What would IFT15 be like if you were exhibiting for the first time?
This show houses many wonders such as 3D printed foods, insect proteins, and breakthroughs in the areas of gluten-free foods and probiotics. Needless to say, it can be a little intimidating for someone like me. This was not just my first experience at a food industry trade show; it was also my first time at one of our trade show booths. Yes, admittedly I am fresh meat to the trade show industry, but I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from our sales & marketing team’s years of expertise. I’ve helped to coordinate a few of PacMoore’s recent shows, but nothing can replace actually being there. Perhaps you’ll benefit from seeing the event through the eyes of a rookie trade show coordinator. If not, then I hope you’ll be able to at least laugh at my naivety.
The experience of setting up for IFT15 has proved to me that miracles do happen. How else could a huge empty exhibit hall at McCormick Place in Chicago be transformed into a diverse assortment of the most innovative food technology companies around? My biggest takeaway from setting up: don’t expect all your rentals to be ready for you in your booth until close to the end of the show’s set up days. After all, miracles take time, and the simple furniture will have to come after all the complicated construction projects. In fact, don’t make any assumptions at all about the timeline. When it comes to knowledge, the exhibitor services manual (and the team behind it) will be your best friend.
My First Day: Sensory Overload
I was unable to be there for the first day of exhibition, but I was there on day two, and I’d say the best way to describe it is feeding frenzy! Everyone attending seemed to have a specific mission and purpose. Our team was having interactions with attendees from the moment the show began, and the majority of our quality leads came to us before noon. My biggest takeaway from this day: plan to need more staff in the morning than the afternoon. Secondly, make sure each staff member has the opportunity to write down some information immediately following each interaction. It’s impossible to try and remember every single conversation that took place.
My Last Day: Slowing Down
I quickly learned that things slow down at the end of the show. If you want to keep your booth traffic momentum going, you may want to consider marketing more heavily for something special that will only happen on the last day. Even then, it seemed to me that most attendees had shifted their focus to one thing: food samples.
One very important trade show detail: don’t expect to be able to sit down. Just forget that you ever knew what a chair was, because for the duration of this show chairs don’t exist.
My biggest takeaway at the end: nothing can replace working with a great team. Without the enthusiasm, energy and expertise of my colleagues, it would not have been such a successful trade show for PacMoore!