My first NAMA Expo was in October of 1996 in St. Louis, Mo. It was a great show. My partners and I met so many knowledgeable and professional people. It was well worth the investment of time and dollars to travel from Washington, D.C. to the Gateway City. We learned valuable insight from vending industry leaders, caught up on the latest technology (circa 1996!), and we made lasting business connections with many suppliers and operators.
This year's show, the 2007 NAMA Spring Expo, at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, is just around the corner. The Supervisor Development Program begins Tuesday, April 10, and the trade show floor opens on Thursday, April 12. Both events run through Friday, April 13.
Don't miss out on an opportunity
Are you registered yet? The Expo will prove again to be a great opportunity to learn, network, do business and have some fun. Nearly 5,000 vending business leaders, service providers and suppliers will participate.
The opportunities to meet colleagues, share best practices and discover ways to increase your sales and tap new markets, are limitless.
It's all up to you.
Make the most out of your attendance at the event. It starts with a little pre-Expo preparation.
It doesn't matter if this is your very first Expo, or your 20th. A little planning will go a long way. Here are 12 valuable tips for both veteran and newbie NAMA Expo attendees about how you can maximize your participation in Las Vegas.
1) Identify your current business needs
Take a detailed inventory of your equipment and product needs. Do you need more machines, more Hershey bars or Pepsi-Cola products? Write it down and keep the list handy. The NAMA Expo provides an excellent opportunity to acquire Show Specials and secure the best manufacturer rebates for the year.
Be prepared to negotiate, and you will be able to take advantage of special sale opportunities that are available only during the show.
2) Identify your current business challenges
In addition to equipment and products, identify your top three business challenges today. Be specific. Perhaps it's finding new customers, figuring out how to best position your company in a crowded market, or retaining a quality work force.
Whatever challenges you face, there are hundreds of vending leaders in the same boat, and hundreds of others who are successfully addressing those issues. You can learn from all of them.
Make it a point to discuss these challenges with vending leaders you meet at the show.
Of course, these challenges are always top of mind in your everyday business life, and by having them on the tip of your tongue at the show, you can turn small trade show chatter into an opportunity to glean valuable business advice and insight from fellow vending leaders. Likewise, share your experiences and what works for your company.
3) Register early
Making your arrangements early is smart business sense. Signing up in advance saves you money … not only for the Expo, but also for the hotel and flight. As a member of NAMA, early Expo registration is only $25.
4) Plot Your Course of Action
When you first reach the show floor, pick up an exhibitor booklet and pinpoint which exhibitors you want to visit and the seminars you want to attend. Write down your plan and check off your goals as you achieve them. I counsel all my clients to "Plan the Work … Work the Plan." This goes for marketing plans, business plans and trade show plans. Time goes by fast during these Expos, so time management is crucial.
5) Network in Advance
Before the Expo, speak with your supplier representatives and schedule one-on-one meetings (away from the show floor) with them during the Expo. This is a valuable time to build relationships and an understanding for each other's business. Also, give your operator friends around the country a call to discuss their plans for the Expo. Schedule time to meet for breakfast, lunch or dinner. These are great opportunities to exchange ideas and learn what is working and not working for operators in other markets.