OneShow: How to prep and what you can't miss

All good things come to those who — prepare. And there are a number of things vending, micro market and office coffee service operators can do to get ready for the NAMA OneShow April 24 to 26 at the Venetian Sands Resort in Las Vegas, Nev.

First assess needs

Before attending the trade show, operators should take some time and review requests and data from their organization. For example, what requests have been received from locations or made by employees? What are the slowest sellers in the warehouse that could be swapped for new products? Operators should consider their needs in categories like equipment, products, payment solutions, micro markets, coffee service, water filtration, vehicles and even management services like consulting, financing or brokering. After the list is complete, operators can add details, specifically what they are looking for whether it is just more information or to make a purchase.

“Operators should certainly consider any purchasing they want to take advantage of because there are definitely show specials on the floor,” said LyNae Schleyer, NCE, CMP, senior director of the OneShow and education.

Schleyer also considers it important to bring multiple people from an organization. Employees from different departments will benefit from going to specific trainings and interacting with different exhibitors. “Bring specialists [from the operation] on to the show floor so they can ask their unique questions,” said Schleyer. “Having multiple people is a key strategy.”

Preview schedule, education and exhibitors

Next look ahead at the show program, in print or online. OneShow is offering education all week.

“The week is really Monday through Friday, because there are events starting as early as Monday, like the paid supervisor development program,” said Schleyer. Educational sessions on Tuesday include the on-going supervisor development program, the quality coffee certificate program and the big focus of 2013 — a paid micro market seminar. “Brad Bachtelle of Bachtelle & Associates has gathered research from all the leading suppliers as well as operators,” said Schleyer. “He’ll be putting it together in an overwhelmingly valuable program.” The seminar will include merchandising, key findings, best practices, warehousing, legislative issues and more.

Even if operators don’t plan to attend any of the pre-show education sessions, Tuesday is still the day to arrive because the “super” sessions begin Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. The first two, legislation and technology, are hot topics for 2013. Micro markets, refreshment services (NAMA’s term for coffee, tea and water) as well as sales and strategy training break-out sessions all happen Wednesday, not to mention the state of the industry report from Carla Balakgie, CEO of NAMA, and keynote from Magic Johnson.

It is important for operators to determine which training topics they absolutely don’t want to miss and plan early, but there are also opportunities to learn straight from the show floor through networking and exhibitor visits.

“A good buyer is an educated buyer,” said Schleyer. “How better to educate yourself than to have all those resources right there in front of [you]?” To Schleyer that means operators should feel free to ask questions of exhibitors and find out what’s new or if a technology is right for their location. Research and conversation are part of attending a tradeshow but don’t commit an operator to making a purchase.

Use online tools to pre-plan

NAMA offers an online tool called My OneShow, which can help operators locate exhibitor booths and display them on a map prior to the show.

“By using My OneShow, they can create their own [personalized] list of exhibitors,” said Schleyer about the program housed on the OneShow Website. “And before they go on site, they can print or download the list…to make their visit very productive.”

The My OneShow program, available at namaoneshow.org and accessible via a link in the upper right, allows operators to search by exhibitor name, and click a green circled plus sign to add them to a list called “My Expo Plan.” With the advanced search, users can use categories to search for companies, like micro market or cashless. In My Expo Plan the booths are in numerical order, making planning a logical path on the show floor a guarantee.

Also new this year will be a OneShow app available to download to a smart phone bringing navigation of the show floor right to operators’ finger tips. This show site technology offers product matching so operators can find exhibitors based on their interests and needs plus puts all relevant OneShow schedules and social media links within easy access. The app will be available in mid-April.

OneShow is the largest industry show of the year. It’s the place operators can see technology in action, learn what others are doing and find more product variety. A little preparation lets attendees make the most of this once a year opportunity.

“Also come open minded,” Schleyer added. “You never know what the next upcoming thing is going to be, and it might just be right there as a new exhibitor.”

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