This will be the fifth year this Examiner is attending Expo West in Anaheim, California and each year is more productive, fun, and exciting than the last. Attending as a media representative for Examiner.com means that public relations firms send information on their client’s new gluten-free products in advance. It tends to make one a little giddy, to say the least, when learning about so many new and innovative gluten-free products.
Expo West is the largest natural products expos in the United States and one of the best places to launch a natural product. Last year it saw 2,568 vendors from 102 countries and more than 65,000 attendees. That represents a lot of square footage to walk, which is how the event can be overwhelming and utterly exciting at the same time.
Here are some great tips compiled over the years to make Expo West an enjoyable experience and a productive event:
- Research – use the tools provided by Expo West to research vendors/products and plan out each day. Download the show app to quickly locate vendors. Also, spend time in the lobby at the New Products Pavilion to check out new products before going to booths.
- Schedule – there is so much going on at this event that it is hard to juggle meetings. It is may be a better use of time to be added to a media list, rather than scheduling a meeting, because something may pop up that needs immediate attention.
- Exercise – about a week before the event, start exercising with weights to get arms/back in shape for carrying around bags full of product samples. It is also a good idea to start walking more frequently.
- Packing – Footwear – remember to be kind to your feet because miles will be walked each day. Bringing two pairs of comfortable running shoes (rubber soul), one for each day, is highly recommended to keep feet from getting too fatigued. Make sure to pack band aids and first aid ointment for blisters.
- Packing – Wardrobe – it tends to be very hot in the exhibit halls, so wear something with short sleeves and bring a light jacket that can easily be stuffed inside a bag. Wear something comfortable that fits and breaths because no one wants to talk to vendors when they are sweaty. Don’t over pack because that room may be needed for product samples.
- Packing – Medicine – bring anything and everything needed, such as: allergy medicine, digestive enzymes, tums, eye drops, nose spray, medicinal teas, pain reliever, etc.
- Packing – Supplies – don’t leave home without: phone and phone charger, laptop and charger, pen, paper, hand sanitizer, and a large supply of business cards. Find a lightweight bag to wear across the body to keep hands free. I like to bring a lanyard that fits show badge, business cards, pen, driver’s license, and cash.
- Hydrate – make sure to stay hydrated because there will be lots of talking and the palate will need to be cleansed between samples. Bringing a refillable water bottle with a clip that attaches to pants or a bag is an excellent idea.
- Sampling – product samples will be everywhere, but there is no need to sample everything. Stay away from samples that aren’t in individual cups because not everyone will use the tongs provided and germs are everywhere. Also, a number of vendors will heat/prepare/cut gluten-free products on the same surface as wheat-based ones, so pay attention and read product labels to check for additional allergens.
- Product Samples – if possible, request samples to be shipped home, so they don’t have to be lugged around all day. Backs and shoulders will be relieved.
- Interact – this is a prime opportunity to introduce you/your brand to vendors, so take full advantage. Ask to speak to a marketing/media person when visiting companies to ensure business cards make it into the right hands.
- Socialize – after a long, long, long day at the show, take the time to post photos to social media accounts. Share what you have been eating, what trends you are spotting, and any photos taken with celebrities/bloggers.
- Packing – Trip Home – bring a lot of zip lock bags of varying sizes and use them to pack up samples for the trip home. The bags will save bars, chips, cookies, candy, etc. from getting broken in luggage
Here’s to Expo West!
Author Information: Jennifer D. Harris, Atlanta, GA
Jennifer D. Harris, http://www.jenniferglutenfreeingeorgia.blogspot.com
Program Chair, Atlanta Metro CeliacsTwitter@jenniferGFinGA