By: Kyra Inglis
CHATTANOOGA – (UTC/THELOOP) Many people do not realize how attending a convention, trade show, or exposition can be to their benefit. What they don’t know is about the wealth of information, not to mention freebies, that are made available .
There is also a chance to meet people who are either semi-famous or knowledgeable in a particular area. Most events are held by theme, so there’s always something of interest for anyone.
Here are six reasons that you should attend one of these events in your area:
Free Stuff: The swag opportunities are incredible. I attended two trade shows in less than a week, and in that time, I racked up four tote bags, a water bottle, a t-shirt, a tire pressure gauge, coupons for products at a local grocer, sunflower seed packets and samples of three different ice creams.
According to Ardyce Mercier, Co-Founder of Cleaning Green, not only do they want your business, but they also want to show you how to clean green. “We come in and clean every surface of your house.” At the Cleaning Green booth, she gave out cleaning recipe cards that showed you how to clean your home in an eco-friendly way.
What is important to remember is that many businesses are going to be present at these events, and they have promotional materials so that you remember their name, and what service they offer. To them, business cards are not enough, and while you can lose or throw away a business card, a free tote bag is always going to be used. And that is free advertisement for them.
Give-Aways : There are countless give aways involved at these events. Each booth usually has an offer for you to sign up with. At the Eco Expo in Chattanooga on April 13th, the main give away was a scooter, that to register for, you had to take your program for the event and have each booth sign that you had visited that booth. Then when you were leaving, you took your program back to the entrance and entered yourself in the giveaway.
Most of these give-aways are not that complicated. Usually, it involves filling out a form with your contact information, your interests in that booth’s products.
Beware though, if it is not something you want to win, don’t enter. Those businesses use that information to do cold calls to sell you their product. They also use any e-mail information to send you information on upcoming product changes. So if you’re not interested in junk e-mail offers, don’t add your e-mail address.
Information: Depending on the theme of the event, there is a wealth of knowledge that is available to the attendants of these events. At the Southern Women’s Expo in Nashville, travel deals and new cooking products were featured. The Eco Expo in Chattanooga had eco-friendly products and services that are available in the Chattanooga area.
One of the most interesting exhibitors at the Eco Expo was EVS, or Engineered Verdant Solutions, that offered Green Roofs, Eco-Paving and LIving Wall Systems. The Living Wall System is something that Chad Norman of EVS, said that local restaurants are really getting into. “With a living wall, people are less likely to spray paint or put their cigarette out on your property.”
Knowing what kind of event you are going to, will give you a sense of what do look for and what kind of questions to ask. It will also give you a chance to find the best possible answer from someone who knows about what you are looking for and has probably worked in that field.
Opportunities: There are several types of opportunities available. The opportunity to support local businesses in your area is one. The opportunity to what services are available to you through companies, such as Earth Fare. Earth Fare offers a pantry makeover program, where you can “trade in your conventional peanut butter, soda, cereal, salad dressing, or jelly and get a free Earth Fare Brand replacement.”
Meeting People: While you can meet people anywhere, it’s a little different at a trade show, expo, and very different at a convention. Depending on what the theme of the event is, there are usually guests that the event holder have arranged to bring in. At the Southern Women’s Expo in Nashville, one of the guests for the weekend was Johnathan Kayne aka Kayne from Project Runway Season Three.
At conventions meet and greets are extremely different. Attendants of Dragon Con in Atlanta and the most recent ConNooga can tell you, the emphasis is on Special Guests. It works a little different at these type of events, however. Generally, you have to pay for an autograph, or a photo opportunity. This can get pricey if there are several people you want to meet.
However, if your fandom has no boundaries, it’s a no brainer. According to Rachel Stewart, she met Terry Gilliam at the 2009 Dragon Con, and got to see a special screening of clips from “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.”
“It was really amazing,” said Stewart, “and because I am a Monty Python fan, I got Gilliam to sign some coconuts from ‘Spam-a-lot’ for me.” Overall Stewart said it was a really great experience, adding that “it was really epic, because he took five to ten minutes with each person.”
Fun! : So this is an obvious one, but it had to be said. The fun factor is the whole reason that you would go to events like these in the first place. Whether it’s the thrill of getting free stuff, actually winning one of those prizes, or just the road trip involved, for some, it’s a mini adventure. Make sure you do your research before you go, however. You don’t want to spend all your time filling out forms for giveaways, when there’s free ice cream to be had. Here are some tips to make your experiences the best :
• Have labels printed out with your contact information. Stick them on the entry forms, for quicker results.
• Hit the booths with the bags first. You will be handed a lot of samples and literature, so it’s best to have a bag to put it in.
• Remember that if you don’t want your contact information used for junk mail, don’t enter the give-aways.
• Do your research in advance. Find out if there is an admission fee at the door. Find out what kind of show it is.