Some solid preparation makes AWFS trip pay off

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With the AWFS fair upon us, I thought I’d share some last-minute tips to get the most from your trade show experience.

Have a plan

This year’s show should be bigger than usual. By my count, there will be more than 500 exhibitors in two halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. While it’s possible to cruise through the show in one day, my advice is to take it slow. I like to spend two full days seeing everything there is to see. Then I’ll use the third and fourth days to revisit booths that were particularly interesting or were too busy.

I strongly suggest that you become familiar with the exhibitor list and floor plan. As luck would have it, both are provided in the AWFS Black Book show planner that accompanies this issue. The information is also available at www.awfsfair.org, which has a bunch more show information such as hours, schedules, etc.

I make a daily planner — nothing more than a sheet of letter paper with space for hourly appointments — that has proven valuable. I write down the event, who I’m supposed to meet with and where. Trust me, I’d be lost without it.

I’m also a big believer in setting goals for the show. Mine are to make sure I see everything, collect as much information as possible and gain a thorough understanding of new products, processes and techniques to share with readers. I make lots of notes and review them at day’s end.

Arrive early, stay late

For me, Las Vegas is a cross-country trip, so I fly out the day before the show starts. This gives me plenty of time to unpack at the hotel, have a leisurely dinner and get some proper rest. I try to return on an afternoon flight, which gets me home around midnight. Otherwise it’s an overnight flight that takes me days from which to recover.

Las Vegas is full of distractions and I’ve been guilty of staying out too late and playing endless hands of blackjack. That said, my advice is to remember this is a business trip. Work hard during the show and, by all means, have some fun in the evenings, but don’t overdo it. Trust me, it’s no fun having a hangover at a show filled with running machinery.

Beat the heat

July in Las Vegas is really hot. Someone will try to explain that it’s a dry heat, but it’s still likely to be 100 degrees without a cloud in the sky. When you walk out of an air-conditioned building, it will be like stepping into an oven. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol. And don’t go outside unless it’s absolutely necessary.

The convention center will have plenty of choices for food and beverage. Take as many breaks as necessary, but try to schedule your lunch break during off-peak hours. The lines will be shorter and more seating is often available.

Stop by for a visit

Woodshop News is an exhibitor at booth No. 10133. If we’re not chasing stories, members of our editorial and advertising teams will be on hand. It’s a long show and always nice to have some company.

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue.

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