Learning, Shopping & Networking at an Exhibition

I love a good exhibition. Since the 1970's when I used to go with my mum, aunty and cousins to the Ideal Home Exhibition in Birmingham, I have been a sucker for pin badges, tasters and those little pompom people often give away from varying stands which I have just found out are called logo bugs.

Exhibition stands:Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

Actually I have a great anecdote about those early trips to the Ideal Home Exhibition. This was the era of IRA bombings and security was often almost as tight as it is nowadays. We had to queue to get into the cavernous exhibition space at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre (NEC) as security guards painstakingly searched bags before allowing admission.

It got to our turn and the guard unzipped my family's cool bag to release an eye watering waft of egginess from the copious amounts of egg mayo sarnies my mum and aunty had prepared for the day. The poor man swiftly re-zipped the bag and ushered us through without searching further - luckily we didn't have any bombs or suchlike secreted below our fragrant lunch.

Since then through work and just for fun I have attended many exhibitions from The Boat Show to Hyper Japan. I love the Christmas themed exhibitions which are more about shopping than learning, and found the New Scientist Live fascinating and came away inspired and educated.

I attended the travel and tourism expo, World Travel Market with a view to networking and made lots of contacts as well as having a really good time. I think my favourite experience there was being allowed. to sit in a First Class pod, recreated from a world famous luxury airline. They shut the door and for a few minutes I got to experience how wonderful flight can be if you have the right money and/or connections. It's a far cry from cattle class on the budget airline I usually use.

Photo by alevision.co on Unsplash

It's amazing how modular exhibition stands can give any expo that professional feel which lends weight to any business trying to succeed, whether it's attracting new customers, making great industry connections or spreading an important message.

I love events where the organisers have given space to small companies and even start-ups. I've met so many amazing people who are so passionate about their products, campaigns and projects.

My top tips for attending exhibitions are as follows:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Often you spend a long time standing and walking and you don't want sore feet and aching legs to distract you. There are not usually many places to sit either.
  • Plan your route. Especially at the bigger expos there can be so much to be distracted by you can end up missing out on exhibitors you really wanted to see. Check the website of the expo before you go and then grab a map of the layout and plan a route.
  • Don't forget to eat. I like food-related exhibitions and at those there are often lots of tasters as well as exhibitors offering lunch deals. It's a great way to try before you buy. At other events however food outlets can be limited and therefore get very busy. My advice would be book a slot in a an site restaurant if possible or plan to eat early or late - say 11am or 3pm.
If you've never been to an exhibition you definitely have to make time to book one. From crafts to construction there's an exhibition to suit everyone.