When you are attending an event, have you ever stopped and really looked around to see who and what is there? At a typical Martial Arts event, you have the competition going on, but there are also booths and exhibits set up for food, clothing and equipment.
Why are they there? Where did they come from? What are they trying to accomplish? Most importantly, how do you become one? I recently returned from a Martial Arts competition in Las Vegas. As with most events, the competitors were focused and the spectators were busy checking everything out and enjoying themselves. But what is it like for those working the exhibit area? Let’s take a look at what typical events and competitions are like for the person behind the booth.
Getting to the Event
When these events take place, usually they are not in the same location that most vendors are from. Traveling to an event as a vendor takes a lot more work than just making sure you have your clothes and toothbrush packed.
To get started, you have to make sure that you are completely ready with your travel itinerary and that you have a hotel set up to stay. The next thing you have to do is communicate with the event people and know exactly what they will be providing you with and what you will have to bring yourself. This can include tables, chairs, banners, Wi-Fi capabilities, extension cords, etc.
Once you have these items squared away, you can begin to decide what you will need to bring on your own: table cloths, banners, product samples, business cards, music, catalogues, SWAG material, promotional items, videos/slideshows and maybe even items to sell. Once all of this is handled, you are prepared to go out and represent your company. When you travel to the event, you want to be there early so you can set up your booth early and be ready to go once the event begins. You never want to be “that company” that is still setting up their booth while the event is in full swing!
Make Sure You Everything is Where it Needs to Be
Usually you are bringing a decent amount of items to an event, but you cannot take them with you in your carry-on suitcase. This means you are banking on your items to be shipped to either the event location or the hotel you are staying at. If they are at the event, you are good to go and can pick them up when you arrive. But if they are shipped to your hotel, you will have to pick them up from the front desk.
First, you need to make sure that everything was shipped and received, then haul is all to the event location. You may have to find a taxi that can carry your equipment or rent a vehicle. In the worst-case scenario, you can carry it all and hit the pavement, hoping that it’s not raining!
Getting Set Up
Once you figure out your travel to the event location, setting up your booth is relatively simple. Just make sure that you have prepared all the tools you may need before leaving the office. Those items usually include things that you don’t typically think about (tape, Velcro, scissors, pens, paper, sharpies, sticky notes, etc.). After you have everything set up, the fun begins.
Build it and They Will Come!
Once people begin flowing into the event and the competition starts, you will soon be flooded with people visiting the booth who want to talk to you.
The great thing about being the person behind the booth is that you are not only able to promote the company and products that you are incredibly passionate about, but you also get to build lasting relationships with the people you meet. Of course you are at the event to promote your company, that’s why the boss sent you there at a great expense! But that really is just one side of it.
If you are doing your job the way it should be done, you will also be creating new friendships, renewing old friendships and building relationships with the people who are, or could be, buying your product. You are there to supply them with the absolute best, and that begins with customer service.
Take Advantage of Low Times
Throughout the event, there are busy times and also low-key times. But those low-key times don’t mean you just sit back and do nothing. This is the perfect time to go around and meet people, take pictures, talk to competitors. It is a great time to visit other people behind their booth and ask about their business and their products. You never know, you may find a future partner, customer or employee! Time typically flies while working an event. The days are long, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring some snacks and have plenty of coffee to keep you energized!
After the Event
After the event is officially over, it is time to pack everything up and prepare to ship it back. Take-down usually goes faster than set-up. There is no real proof or reason behind that statement, but it just seems to be that way.
After you cleared everything out and packed/shipped your equipment back, you either have one final night in the area to relax and maybe have dinner with a customer, or you can hit the red-eye and head back home. Either way, once you get back to the office, you start thinking about what went well, what you could have done better and where and when the next event is.
So, the next time you attend an event, whether it’s as a competitor, spectator or attendee, stop by those booths and exhibits. Take time to talk to the person behind the booth. Find out who they are, what their story is and why they are there. He or she just might end up becoming a new friend, a new business associate, a new customer or a new supplier.
Look for Zebra at Your Next Event
If you find yourself at an event, make sure to look for the Zebra logo. We go to as many as we can and love to meet with gym owners and athletes. You are the reason why we sell the MMA and martial arts products that we do. Keep an eye out for us and our MMA Mats. We will look forward to meeting with you and telling you all about our products and services!