Industry events can be wonderful resources for small businesses. They’re full of useful information and networking opportunities, and they’re usually held in fun locations that you may not get to see otherwise. They can also be somewhat stressful since these events can get expensive and involve a lot of travel. If you want to enjoy your time at the next big industry event, here’s how you can prepare as a small business owner.
Decide What You Want To Get Out of the Event
In order to decide whether your trip is successful or not, you first need to decide your own parameters for success. What are you hoping to get out of this event? Knowledge of new business trends? Contacts of prominent people in your industry? Specialized training? If you can offer your services to other businesses, or if the convention is open to the public, do you want to go as a vendor and set up a booth? Will you have someone running it for you so that you can soak up all the convention has to offer? Some of these events can get pretty big, and attending every panel or demonstration will be impossible for one person. Set your expectations early to make a realistic plan.
When planning your goals for the year, consider choosing which events you want to go to as well. This way you can map out which travel tasks need to be completed and when. Are you the only one that will be traveling, or will you bring employees with you? Will you need travel documents like passports to get on a plane? Where will you stay? You can track flight dates to see how prices fluctuate, but waiting too long to book can kill your budget. If you’re going to be a vendor at these events, will you need to order extra products? How will you transport it? How will you transport signage and other display extras? Knowing exactly what you need and how long it’ll take to set up can save you a lot of time later on.
Speak With the Event Organizers
If you have any questions that aren’t answered by a quick search online, you can reach out to whoever is hosting the event for clarification. As a general rule, never assume anything. You don’t want to think your booth space is a certain size when in reality it’s a lot smaller and your setup won’t work. If you’re trying to boost your status as an industry expert, you can see if there are any spaces left on panels or time slots for presentations they’re trying to fill. Even if their schedule is booked, a good impression may mean you get invited to speak next year.
Consult Industry Organizations
If you belong to any industry organizations, check to see if they offer a discount code to share with members. There may even be exclusive events running alongside a convention that you could be missing out on. Sometimes the discount offered more than covers the membership fees!
Triple Check Your Bags
If you forget something vital, chances are it’ll be even more expensive to buy once you arrive at your destination. And if you forget something like toiletries, you may not even be able to fly back with them. Make sure you’ve got a variety of clothing for different events. The clothes you wear during the day may not be what you wear to meet with other professionals for dinner or drinks. When you’ve got a schedule that’s booked from dawn to dusk, little hiccups like forgetting your business cards can really throw a wrench in your schedule.
Industry events provide a wonderful opportunity for you and your team to get out of the office, show off your success, and learn how to push the boundaries of your company even further. With the right preparation, you can return inspired and excited to get back to work.