Monday, January 23, 2017

10 Tips for Preparing for an Expo

The Gallia County Convention and Visitors Bureau will be attending the AAA Great Vacations Travel Expo February 3-5 to represent Gallia County. We will be setting up as an exhibitor, giving away brochures, calendar of events and a few freebies. This will be my first AAA setting up as a vendor, last year I actually worked for AAA Ohio and sold luggage. Now I'm really excited to be able to share my passion of local tourism with central Ohio.

Executive Director Amanda Crouse has been to the AAA expo four times but the GCCVB has attended eight times. Amanda and I have been preparing for the expo for months, creating new promotional pieces, planning the layout of the booth, and everything in between. Here are a few tips I have learned through the process so far!

1. Register Early             It is never too soon to begin preparing for an expo, especially one as large as this one. Be sure to register before the deadline and read all booth instructions from the expo you'll be attending. If you are wanting to get a corner booth it is important to get your registration completed asap.

2. Convention Extras         If the expo your attending is at a large convention center most likely you will have to option to purchase rental tables and other items for your booth. If you don't have the vehicle for tables it will be much less of a hassle to take advantage of the rental option. Tablecloths and more are able to be rented, just be sure to order them asap and bring your order form with you just in case!

3. Promo Items            This is probably my very favorite part of the expo, creating the promotional items. Remember to do this months in advance! So, items depending on the company, may need a little work. We experienced this process with our luggage tags when the design had to be altered several times. However with the extra work we ended up with something we were happy with. Also, shipping promotional items rarely happen overnight.
2017 Promo Items

4. Booth Attraction       You have your booth, tables and promo items, now you must figure out how to design your booth. Create multiple ways to make your booth interactive and fun. For our booth, we have a prize wheel and a raffle basket. We did multiple mock-ups in our office to design our booth to make our space as effective as possible.

Setting up our Mock Booth

5. Literature                Most people come for the freebies, but our goal is to get as much information about Gallia County distributed as possible. We have our official Visitors Guide, Downtown Walking Guide and Calendar of Events for Gallia County. Also, this year we have a goal of attracting groups to visit, so Amanda has created a Group Tour Planner and a Profile Sheet to give to prospective groups. Along with this we have our options visible in stands showing our Heritage Tour and Custom Tour Options.

6. Hotel Rooms            Depending on the location and length of time the expo you are attending is, you may need a place to stay. Be sure to book your rooms once you register for the expo, you may be able to get a special rate if there is a hotel connected to the convention center the expo is being held at.

7. The Necessities          Another overlooked part of preparing for an expo are a few necessities. A Notebook, Pens, Tape, Scissors and a Stapler. A Tide to Go pen may also be a nice back up in case of emergencies.

8. The Packing List         Look at all the last seven tips, bring all that stuff. Create a very detailed, worst case scenario list. Including a flash drive with all of the documents you are using for back up and alteration. Place the list in a spot so that your team can see it and mark off as you pack. I recommend packing a week to a week in a half before you are set to leave. Giving you time to run to the store and pick up anything you may have forgotten

9. Expo Schedule              Most expos have a list of the schedule available for exhibitors and guests to view before the expo. This will really come in handy when you are planning out shifts for the staff to man the booth. If there is a big guest or they are giving away free food, that would be the time to have extra people at the booth.

10. Look the Part               If you are attending an expo as an exhibitor to represent your company or organization you need to look good. The GCCVB has ordered new shirts with our new logo on the back. I once heard that shoes are important because people will be looking down at their phones so they will see your feet before they see your face. And for any event you attend, remember your business cards!!!

The GCCVB has free tickets to the AAA Great Vacations Travel Show for a limited time! Call (740) 446-6882 Email or Stop by 441 Second Ave, Gallipolis, OH

And as always, Thanks for reading!

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