As a twenty-year veteran of sales and marketing, I’ve seen more than my share of tradeshows and events. I tried to tally every event I’ve attended, worked, organized or managed and when I got to fifty-six, I stopped counting. My tally for events in Las Vegas alone is twelve. That’s a lot of fake Elvis, slot machines and miles of walking.
Along the way I’ve learned a few things that make any event a heck of a lot more enjoyable. If you’re one of the thousands of martial arts business owners heading to the Martial Arts SuperShow, here are a few things to pack and other ideas for making the most out of the event.
1. Check out the schedule beforehand and mark what sessions you want to attend
When I was a rookie conference attendee, I’d barely glance at the event schedule before I arrived. Once I did get there, I often found that the most intriguing sessions were standing room only. Alternatively, I’d find two sessions that I really wanted to go to were so far away from each other that I’d have to leave one session 15 minutes early in order to get to the next one.Now I check out the schedule before I get to an event and review a map. This way, I can see where everything is and I have a plan for what I’ll need to get to and when I’ll need to be there. I also plan (sometimes more successfully than others) to get to the sessions early so that I’m more likely to get a seat. Check out the MA SuperShow schedule now. (Shameless plug: You might notice that I’m hosting a session on Marketing Your Martial Arts School at 12:00pm on July 8th in the FC Online Marketing Room. Join me!)
2. Pack some snack food
Now it is hard to find somewhere that doesn’t have some kind of food. Coffee shops, convenience stores, food stands and even food trucks are almost everywhere. But, the food lines at a conference, particularly at lunch, are packed. And what most people are waiting for is an overpriced burger or hotdog. Bring some portable snacks along with you so that you’re not eyeing that day-old pretzel, along with the hordes of folks in line with you.
3. Get caffeinated before you get to the conference
The only lines longer than those at lunch are the ones for coffee on the opening day of an event. I like my special latte as much as the next person, but during an event I make the in-room coffee or grab a cup from the lobby. Otherwise I find myself with a killer caffeine headache since I usually need to bail on a very long line in order to get to my company’s booth or a session on-time. Trust me, caffeine deprivation and conferences don’t mix.
4. Set up meetings before you get there
We all have the best of intentions. In days past, I would tell folks I knew would be heading to a conference that I would just “meet them there.” Cue lots of missed connections, confusing text messages and apologetic emails. If you want to meet folks at the event, plan a time and meeting place ahead of time.
5. Bring comfortable shoes….at least 2 pairs
This is probably the most important item to bring along. I recommend 2 pairs as even your best and most comfortable pair of shoes will make your feet hurt after a long day of walking a conference. My trick is to put on the less comfortable pair and then move to my better pair for happy feet. My other trick at the end of the day is to plunge my feet into an ice bath. Yes, it is cold as heck, but it feels fantastic after a long day on your feet. Extra points you bring Band-Aids or Epsom salts.
6. Stock up on sanitizer
Unless you live driving distance from Las Vegas, you’re likely flying there. We’ve all heard the horror stories of what really lurks around our airplane seat so it makes sense to bring sanitizer on-board. The other thing to keep in mind is that you’ll likely shake a LOT of hands over three to four days. Bring sanitizer along and keep everyone healthy.
7. Pace yourself
I know how much fun it is to see old friends and colleagues. And it is super tempting to have a late night hanging out with new and old friends. However, I think few things in the world are more miserable than being on your feet all day with very little sleep. Pace yourself for the long haul and go to bed early, at least the first night.
8. Plan what vendors you’ll visit
Martial arts software, gear for your school, mailer vendors and everything and anything for martial arts schools will be offered at the event. Don’t go into the exhibit hall without knowing exactly where you want to stop and what you want to check out. (Warning – shameless plug coming!) If you’re thinking of adding software specifically designed for martial arts schools, make sure to stop by Zen Planner’s booth #105.
9. Follow the event hashtag to know exactly what’s going on and when (#MASuperShow)
10. Bring your gear
All that conference food may make you a bit lethargic. If you’re looking to get a workout in, bring along some training clothes to workout with some new friends or share techniques. You can also call ahead to local schools or gyms to observe a class and get some new ideas for your school.
As the captain in Hill Street Blues used to say, “Be careful out there.” Let’s all have a great time next week. There has never been a better time to own and manage a martial arts school. I can’t wait to see you all there!
The Martial Arts SuperShow is a great way to network and discover firsthand what other schools around the world are doing to create success for themselves. Can’t wait for the SuperShow? Get your copy of our free Martial Arts Benchmark Report which contains the most detailed financial performance information in the martial arts industry.