Preparing for the Optical Trade Show

How many times have you been to a Trade Show and not been prepared? No business cards? Hotel room 20 miles away? It happens, but below is some Helpful Hints on preparing for a Trade Show.


  • Pre-register- Registering in advance saves you money. It will also insure you get the classes you want. Many trade shows offer bungled deals.
  • Don’t step over a dime to pick up a penny- if you are attending your local state trade show- book your room in the hotel. The cost of driving and parking to save $20 a night are not worth it. In addition, trade shows are good networking events. If you are drinking, you don’t want to be driving. It is much easier to network at the hotel bar and just have to walk to the elevator. Trade show organizers have reserved rooms at a discount. Take advantage of it early. Many times the hotel will sell out of the reserved rooms.
  • Bring Staff- especially those who are buyers, administrators and office managers. Trade shows are great learning and training venues. Plus it’s a good motivator!
  • DOWNLOAD CE NOTES- most trade shows are going paperless- eliminating all white paper and even eliminating CD’s. If you need or want lecture notes- download them at home, rather than waiting in line at the Cyber Booth and printing.
  • Arrive in plenty of time- nothing is worse than being stressed out by being late. In many CE classes- you will not receive credit if you are more than 10 minutes late.
  • Plan on attending trade events- Many State Shows have events planned in the evening. This can be a fun event and an excellent time to network and learn in casual surrounding. For instance at optowest– there will be an opening reception and fashion show in the exhibit hall. Food, drink, exhibit hall, networking and a fashion show- couldn’t get much better!

Set Goals

  • You probably will be taking CE – but is there any other topic you want to learn about-
  • What do you need to accomplish? What vendors to visit? What products you need to research? What equipment do you need?
  • Know your inventory needs before the show. Efficient purchasing will save you money by being able to take advantage of show specials and special offers, plus keeping you in budget.
  • Set appointments with vendors.

What to Take

  • 50-100 Business Cards- This is not just for vendors, but new contacts you may meet at the show. It shows professionalism.
  • Laptop- Most shows are going paperless now- take your laptop and have your notes saved for later referral.
  • Your Goals and Objectives of Show
  • Appointment book/calendar
  • Cell phone/PDA if applicable
  • Pens, paper for notes( better yet, your laptop)
  • Briefcase/Tote/Reusable bag for your notes, orders and literature.
  • Flashdrive with your artwork and other types of files, you might be needing for custom merchandise

What to Wear

  • Pack comfortable shoes, wear business casual clothing, and remember you are a representative for your business.
  • Depending on the locale and the event planning- Golf bags, tennis rackets and evening clothes might be appropriate.
  • Allow enough room in your suitcase(s) for bringing back more than you take. This includes literature, freebies, and product samples.
  • Some exhibitors provide bags, but come prepared by bringing a comfortable carryall for all that literature.
  • Remember- airlines charge for extra baggage- check your airline before you bring extra luggage.

At the Trade Show

  • Show guides are usually provided when you arrive.
  • Make sure your badge is in plain sight while browsing trade show booths.
  • Take advantage of show specials, discounts and sales where they are truly bargains and needed in your store. Check freight costs and delivery dates.
  • Keep track of orders placed so you’ll stay within your budget.
  • Time is premium at trade shows- eat breakfast and take snacks with you. Depending on the trade show, food may not be provided, and if bought at the Convention Center, could add unnecessary expense.
  • Leave the show a little early to avoid long lines for buses and cabs.


  • Bring plenty of your own business cards.
  • Talk to people, a lot of people- this is a fantastic networking events.
  • Attend seminars and workshops if available. These educational presentations are why you came.


  • Be courteous with all vendors
  • Don’t waste their time if you are not interested in their product.
  • Thank them for attending the show
  • Be honest- if you can’t buy for another 6 months- tell them.


Visit optowest 2009