Author’s Note: Although this article is focused on G2E (the Global Gaming Expo), the thoughts and hints herein are applicable to any conference/trade show in any industry, anywhere and anytime.
First, a few words about G2E. You probably already know it’s the largest gaming conference and trade show in the world. The trade show features more than 700 exhibitors from every part of the globe, and this gaming event will attract some 25,000 people before it ends. You hopefully already know that its site and dates have been changed this year: It is scheduled for Oct. 3–6 in the Las Vegas Sands Convention Center. You might not know that the conference, as differentiated from the trade show, should not be missed. It offers a huge variety of sessions, seminars, panels and roundtables that will expand your horizons and improve your skills.
Much has been written to assist companies in “getting the most” from their trade show participation. However, little, if anything, has been written for individuals like yourself, to maximize your experience and enjoyment. The following ideas and suggestions are based on my personal experiences, both good and bad, at a variety of conferences and trade shows in many industries over a number of years.
Let’s begin by helping you create your own priority plan. Approaching any conference and/or trade show without a plan is just not smart—it will guarantee frustration, fatigue and failure. Your own personal plan will largely depend on your answers to these questions:
1. Why are you going? Is it to participate in a session? Work in a booth? Acquire knowledge and skills? Socialize? A rewarded paid company vacation? Likely, it’s some combination of these reasons.
2. What interests you? Is it the conference sessions? The trade show? The exhibitors? Your competitors? Are your interests personal or professional, or a little of both? What do you want to attend? What do you need to attend?
3. Who do you want to meet? Who do you need to meet? Are they individuals? Are they companies? Are they competitors? Are they colleagues? Are they clients? Are they potential clients? Are they experts in your field of interest?
Before we begin to develop your game plan, let’s talk also about some actions that, if taken in advance, will help to insure an irritation-free show.
The only way to go! Get online and get registered. The earlier the registration, the greater the savings and the less time spent in the registration area at the show.
Get to Las Vegas a day or two in advance. This extra time helps reduce the inevitable foul-ups of travel and hotel reservations. It also allows you to figure the best route from your hotel to the conference. The bonus is that you will have more time to see and enjoy one of the more fascinating cities on the planet.
Go to www.globalgamingexpo.com. Look at the conference program for sessions, speakers, times and dates. Look at the exhibitor list along with show hours and dates. These can help you form an agenda that can be modified to your schedule if you are working at the show.
Conference Travel Deals
Once again, refer to the G2E website for “official travel partners” who will be offering discounts on airlines, hotels and car rentals. A word of caution: Only those companies listed on the website are recognized by G2E to guarantee both discounts and service.
Las Vegas Transportation
The new central location of G2E—in the Sands Convention Center with access through the Venetian Hotel—makes it easy to get there from almost any hotel. Your choices of transportation, apart from walking, include driving, the monorail, a hotel shuttle, a taxi, a strip trolley or a public bus.
Clothes and shoes must be comfortable if you’re going to make it through to the last day. If you’re working at the show, know your company’s dress code. Trade shows are not the place to break in new shoes or to wear high heels—save those for the evenings. Although Las Vegas is a casual city, make sure you’ve packed enough “dressier” clothes to handle any events that may come your way.
These are the legal medical and pharmaceutical supplies that will allow you to function at your very best. Remembering to bring them will save you from wasting time finding and buying them at the show:
• Glasses—particularly sunglasses
• Aspirin (or something stronger)
• Your own prescriptions
• Antacids for the inevitable excessive food and beverage intake
• Lip balm, breath spray and personal protection
These are the supplies and equipment that will help you meet the business goals that brought you to G2E in the first place:
• Cell phone, laptop or PDA that will actually work at the conference despite the huge amount of electrical and wireless interference
• Business cards—twice as many as you think you will need
• Cash and credit/debit cards—it will cost much more than you think it will
Whether you are using company money or your own, whether you are paying cash or swiping plastic, at some point, you are going to need proof of those expenses. A conference is not the time to pretend that you are an accountant unless, of course, you are an accountant. Keep it simple! Get in the habit of asking for receipts. Place those receipts in a separate envelop for each day. This basic sorting will make life much easier when the day of reckoning arrives.
This is a much overused and misunderstood word. My favorite definition is “the developing and using of mutually beneficial contacts to expand and grow business opportunities.” Do some reading. Talk to some colleagues. Here is one tip to get you started—wear your ID badge on your right side, instead of your left, for maximum exposure.
You are ready. G2E awaits. How you actually walk the show will be based, I hope, on your priority list and the amount of available time. If you really think about it, there are only a few logical ways to attack this immense show.
They are, in no particular order:
• Start from the end of the show—this is a favorite of mine, because the newer, smaller and more innovative companies are always there
• Spend all your time and effort with the major companies and suppliers
• Use your priority plan, the website and the program guide to selectively choose and visit your target exhibitors
• Start from the beginning or the middle of the show and keep walking, in any direction, until you collapse from exhaustion
Regardless of how you walk the show, the amount of materials, samples and gifts made available will force you into becoming one of these types of attendees:
• A “Bag Person,” as which you will use your registration bag, your briefcase, exhibitor bags and any other containers you can beg, borrow or steal to collect anything and everything on offer.
• A “Non-Interest Person,” as which you will take nothing because you already know everything.
• An “Electronic Person,” as which you allow exhibitors to scan your badge and send you everything—most of which you did not want anyway—via snail mail.
• A “Ruthless Person,” as which, upon returning to your hotel, you will review and throw away everything you really don’t want, subsequently feeling good about yourself and avoiding luggage weight problems at the airport.
See you at G2E!