Tips for Attending Travel Trade Shows or Travel Events
If you’re in the travel industry — whether you’re the owner, a travel agent, a travel writer or someone who works for any business in travel and/or hospitality, you may find yourself attending travel conferences or trade shows. While they’re fun opportunities to get away, network and learn, they can also be stressful to plan. If you’re new to traveling for business, you may wonder what you’ll need to take to be prepared, so here are some recommendations for both new and seasoned travelers!
Pack light. You’ll need extra space to take home gear you are given or that you purchase during the show. Some businesses give away product and you’ll need a way to get it home without costing you extra baggage fees on your flight home. If you have space, take along a lightweight fold-up tote bag for emergency use. Conferences don’t always supply them and you may want one solely for the event that you can dispose of after. When you pack, keep your outfits on hangers; this makes unpacking a breeze and you won’t have to worry about insufficient hangers in your hotel room closet.
Wear layers. Convention centers usually run on the cold side because of the amount of people so having a spare sweater will help keep you comfortable in the event the air conditioning is on overdrive. A sweater is also a good seat holder in the event you need to get up to use the restroom or get coffee and don’t want to lose your spot in a crowded room.
Almost everyone has run out of cell phone or tablet power at an inopportune moment, so plan ahead by carrying at least one extra charger, if not too. Technology has advanced so much that mobile chargers continue to get smaller and lighter, so you have plenty of options for your budget. Be sure to have the proper connection cords for each device, particularly if you use both PC and Mac or Android and iOS products. Many chargers will do both.
Don’t forget your wall outlet cords! There are never enough plugs at conference locations but sometimes you get lucky in a moment of need. A good option is an extender that only takes one outlet but allows you to plug in numerous items so you don’t have to hog an entire outlet.
Create a social media cheat sheet. If you know who you’ll be listening to, your speaker names or the hashtag for the event, notate them all in one document or text on your phone for easy reference. To give shout-outs to your hotel, rental car agency or venue, add their handles as well. Take it on step further and start following them all prior to your trip and you’ll find it easy to get updates as the event goes along.
Make a pit stop at a store upon arrival to purchase a few snacks for your trip or even your hotel room at night. Not all hotels offer 24/7 room service and if you’re hungry or want to enjoy a nightcap once you’re back for the evening, you’ll save money and time by bringing it with you. A well-placed granola bar can be a lifesaver if you’re running short on time or the meals are scheduled differently than when you’d eat at home.
Mini digital voice recorders can be a great way to record an event — if allowed — so you can listen to it again later if they aren’t providing audio files. It will also free up your phone for taking photos of slides or anything else you may want to do.
Collect business cards along the way and save them with a rubber band for easy organization until you return home. Then you can add them to your social media accounts or email contacts for future use.
It’s all about the shoes. Fashion and business attire matter, but if you can plan outfits around your most comfortable but professionally appropriate footwear, you won’t be wincing from blisters or foot pain halfway through.
Drink a lot of water, and scope out breaks for short walks to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. This will help keep your energy up as well as help you stay awake.
Take an envelope for all your receipts, in the event you need to file an expense report, or if you’re more technologically-based, install an app to scan everything into while you’re on the go.
Scope out the location before you hit the road. Find a site you’d like to see or a place you want to eat and have that be your escape plan at the end of a long day. Business trips keep you so focused, it’s good to get away from it all for even just a little while. Decompressing and not having to chat can help re-energize you and help you relax enough to take in all the important stuff. If you’ll be driving a rental car, inquire about on-site parking prior so there are no surprises, as not all hotels provide valet service and some of it is quite expensive. It’s good to have the route mapped out, too; even the best GPS will not necessarily alert you if the valet is only accessible on one side of the road, so pre-planning will help you route around the building in the proper direction. At the same time, look at the local calendar to be sure your arrival doesn’t coincide with something major that may result in street closures or extra traffic.
As you can see, advanced preparation is the name of the game to help you enjoy any business travel you may need to do. Being ready before arrival will help you enjoy the experience without stress!