How Four Tools Can Optimize Your Expo Experience

National conventions in every industry are great for members, manufacturers and suppliers alike. Conventions give people an opportunity to show off new products, network and educate one another on industry trends and this year it will be no different for exhibitors and attendees at the 2014 NAMA OneShow April 9 to 11 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. This year, attendees can use the following tools to put together a diverse toolkit to help build business long after the show ends.

 

Tool of technology: the new app

In June 2013, Pew Research Internet Project reported that 56 percent of American adults owned and used smartphones. NAMA has seen those figures and is incorporating a newly updated mobile app available for Android and iOS users. “We are always striving to bring current technologies to the show,” said LyNae Schleyer, vice president of events for NAMA. “We are also looking for easier ways for people to receive information during the show. In addition, we are encouraging people to go paperless.”

Attendees and exhibitors will want to download the modernized 2014 NAMA OneShow mobile app, as it will be one of the most helpful tools both during and after the event.

The new app includes live polling capabilities during educational sessions with the ability to ask questions in real-time to users and allowing them to respond. Not only will this encourage on-the-spot interaction within educational sessions, but it also serves as a way to gauge attendee opinions within each session type and topic.

Available two weeks before the show, the new mobile app will also house the program of events with handouts from each of the sessions. “Even when you return back to the office, you can download all of the information you might have missed at the show,” said Schleyer. “Users can take notes during the show within the app and then download them when they get back to the office.” On-site tech specialists will even be available to answers questions attendees may have about the mobile app.

 

Tool of knowledge: educational sessions

There are no downsides to attending educational sessions. Learning more about trends, better business practices and new legislation among other things, is one of the best tools for your business.

Although the show technically begins on April 9, Tuesday, April 8, offers an advanced prepaid program that will feature Mike Tompkins leading the Quality Coffee Certificate Program on coffee fundamentals such as the history of the coffee bean and its process, sorting, grading, blending and roasting. This is one of two sessions that is required to receive a Quality Coffee Certificate.

For the rest of the week, NAMA has divided its educational sessions into three categories: Deep Dive, Idea and Solution sessions:

Deep Dive sessions are offered for larger audiences, with more than 350 seats available. These 90-minute sessions are aimed at looking at the big picture of the vending, micro market and OCS industry.

The 60-minute Idea sessions are offered immediately following the Deep Dive sessions. These workshops will focus on current and future trends within the industry and how to make key decisions on trending products.

Lastly, the educational portion of the OneShow will feature Solutions sessions, a group of separate workshops aimed at providing the best practices and most applicable business resources. “We want to first give attendees a better understanding of new research and trends,” said Joann DeNardis, director of education/certification at NAMA. “From there we wanted them to be able to go to a session where they will be able to apply what they’ve just learned.”

Several educational sessions will be offered in each category, so plan ahead to determine which sessions will best fit your business needs. Education is an irreplaceable tool at the NAMA OneShow, so be sure to maximize your experience by attending as many sessions as possible.

A list of currently offered sessions can be found on the next page, the NAMA OneShow Website at www.namaoneshow.org and on the 2014 NAMA OneShow mobile app.

 

Tool of advantage: new products showcase

Not everyone in the industry can attend the NAMA OneShow, which is why it is important to take advantage of exhibitors’ new products. Be the first to offer customers something new and diversify your product offerings.

“This year we are going to have a New Products Showcase,” said Schleyer. “This new showcase will allow each exhibitor to feature new products, services or technologies in one central location.” The New Products Showcase, featured near the entrance of the show, allows attendees to review these new products and services before entering. All new items will be on display. No longer will attendees have to circle around the dozens of booths looking for specific products; the New Products Showcase gives operators the chance to identify new products that would work specifically for their needs and allows them to go directly to that particular exhibitor — allowing them to manage time more efficiently on the trade show floor.

The ability to see new products at the NAMA OneShow will give you a leg up on the competition after the show ends. As you’re viewing the New Products Showcase, ask yourself if your business could benefit from integrating any of this year’s new products, technologies or services.

 

Tool of networking: center for community

There can be nothing better for business than having a great working relationship with other members in the industry. Regardless of the popularity of cell phones and email, a great business deal can still come from a firm handshake.

This year, “community” isn’t just a word at the OneShow. It’s a place. The Center for Community will act as a place of relaxation, meetings and networking. If you’re looking for a place to catch up on emails, make phone calls, eat lunch or take a short nap, the Center for Community is open to all.

“It’s going to become an annual feature on the show floor,” said Shleyer. “It’s really going to be a great networking space for people to come together. The name Center for Community says it all.”

 

Bundle to maximize the experience

Bundling these four tools before and after the show allows you to create a toolkit to diversify your business when the show lights turn off and everyone heads home. Utilizing the mobile app, the educational sessions, the New Products Showcase and the Center for Community are sure to optimize your expo experience.

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