Author: Cassie Gasaway
The ATA Trade Show is a busy, hectic time. Whether it’s your first time or your 15th, these tips will help you improve your Show experience. Best of all, they’re from people who know all the ins and outs of the Show: ATA staff. Let’s hear what they have to say.
Becky Lux, ATA’s senior manager of Trade Show
Lux has been hosting and attending the Show for 11 years. As such, she’s become an expert on Trade Show navigation. She knows how to find where she needs to go and then moves to her destination quickly. How? She uses the ATA’s free mobile app. The mobile app has all the Show information you need in one place. You can view the floor plan, the schedule of events, and get details for the education sessions, booth events and free ATA shuttle. The app also has a “Locate Me” feature in the “Floor Plan” section that helps you pinpoint your location so you can pick the quickest route to your next destination.
She said there are two ways to navigate and conquer the Show floor. Option 1 is to divide the floor into sections and tackle each section one at a time. Option 2 is to rank exhibitors on a scale from most important to visit to least important to visit and then work your way through the list. You’ll walk less with the first strategy, but you might not have time to meet all exhibitors, depending on how much time you spend at each booth. The second strategy ensures you hit your favorite exhibitors, but it likely entails more walking. Approach navigating the Show floor in a way that makes the most sense for your business.
Lux also encourages attendees to click the “My Trade Show Login” tab in the app to create an account. You can star and favorite exhibitors and education sessions with an individual login and view your selections in the “My Trade Show Planner” tab. You’ll also see your starred selections in the exhibitor list and education schedule for easy reference. If you need help with the app, find an ATA staff member for assistance.
Sarah Haala, ATA’s Trade Show coordinator
Haala has two years of Trade Show experience under her belt and in her time with the ATA, she noticed it’s best to arrive early each day of the Show. Why? Because you’re more energized in the morning and you beat the crowds because many people sleep in and show up late, especially if they were socializing with friends the night before. To stick to the trend, she also recommends eating early. Most people eat lunch at noon, so you’ll notice long food court lines and fewer empty tables at that time. Eating earlier allows you to get your food, sit down and eat without being away from the Show floor for too long. If you choose to eat out for dinner, try to make reservations. The earlier the better. Otherwise, you might jeopardize your “early bird gets the worm” strategy.
Haala also mentioned attending the free evening and affiliate events. People at these events are often more relaxed and laid back compared to their business-mode facade on the Show floor. Plus, you can enjoy free drinks, snacks or entertainment at events like Outtech Innovations, Connections: An ATA Happy Hour presented by Outdoor Sportsman Group, and the Badlands Film Festival Presented by Garmin.
Allison Jasper, ATA’s senior director of marketing and communications
Jasper has spent 14 years in a marketing role, and she knows the importance of relationships and connections. She encourages attendees to build personal and professional relationships with exhibitors and other retailers. There’s a lot going on at the ATA Show, and it’s easy to forget names, companies, orders or advice from peers. Use your phone’s notepad or take notes in a notebook to help you keep track of conversations, orders and other happenings. You can also add exhibitor notes in the ATA mobile app if you create an account.
Also, be sure to get and hand out business cards. If you discussed something unique or specific during a meeting or conversation, jot that down on their business card and reference it in your follow-up communications to help the person remember you and your interaction. Keeping track of the information you receive, orders you place, and people you must connect with after the Show helps you be more productive post-Show. Your notes and budding relationships will help set the stage for future interactions and more tailored advice, service and assistance.
Josh Gold, ATA’s senior manager of R3 and state relations
Gold works with state agencies, nonprofits and other organizations to develop partnerships that help grow archery and bowhunting. He encourages attendees to visit booths along the nonprofit row, which is on the right along the wall after entering the Show floor near the main registration desk. Talk with each organization to learn how they benefit archery and bowhunting at the grassroots level. Discuss their efforts in your area and how to get involved. Forming partnerships allows you to attract new customers, grow archery and bowhunting in your community, and provide current customers with more opportunities to participate. Some nonprofits include the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, Pope and Young Club, Hunters of Color, Christian Bowhunters of America, Whitetails Unlimited, the National Field Archery Association, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Kurt Smith, ATA’s director of industry relations
Smith oversees education and has been selecting and organizing presenters for the ATA Show for five years. He said attending education sessions is a worthwhile investment of members’ time, but the real benefit comes when members prepare themselves and show up with the right mindset. “I can attest to this through my experience as an education organizer at our Show and as an attendee at other shows like SHOT and iCAST,” Smith said.
He encourages attendees to review the education schedule each morning (or the day before) to deliberately pick sessions to attend. If you wait to make a decision, you might choose to attend a session that’s more enjoyable to attend but less helpful to your business. Push yourself to attend a session with an unfamiliar topic so you can increase your knowledge and strengthen your business. Picking education events in advance also gives you time to think of questions for the presenter. Write them down so you don’t forget. If you’re unable to ask your question due to time constraints, try to exchange contact information and connect with the presenter after the Show. They can likely provide specific advice and recommendations based on your situation or business, so don’t miss your opportunity. Lastly, Smith said to attend each session with a student’s mindset. Take detailed notes about the subject and make a list of actionable steps you can tackle after the Show.
If you need something or have a question, connect with an ATA staff member at Main Registration, in the ATA Store (Booth 701), or at the Information Booth, located in the East Hall near the MyATA Area. Click here to see the ATA staff page, where you’ll find a photo and contact information for each staff member.