Author: Michaelean Pike
The annual ATA Trade Show can deliver big savings to attendees, but it can also be a costly enterprise if you blow big bucks on expensive meals or, worse, poor buying decisions. Plan now to spend wisely at the Show.
The Big Stuff
Your hotel and transportation to and from the Show will likely be your trip’s two biggest expenses. If you’re driving, learn your parking options beforehand. You can save time and money by buying a parking pass for the Kentucky Expo Center in advance.
For Tino Villaverde of All About Archery in Melbourne, Florida, trying to save money through cheap hotels didn’t prove worth it in the past. “I used to find hotels that were, on average, $50 cheaper than the Show hotels, but I found I would end up spending the money on taxis and transportation,” he said. “Now I spend a little more for the hotel so I’m right at the Show.”
Retailers can save money by booking rooms in the ATA hotel block. (The deadline for booking in the ATA hotel block has passed, but keep this option in mind for the 2020 Show.) The ATA negotiates rates with nearby hotels to ensure Show attendees get the best prices possible.
Some places offer discounts for Show attendees. Photo Credit: Louisville Advertising
Eat for Less
Meals can send you wildly over budget if you’re not careful. Fortunately, you have several ways to keep food spending where you want it.
Louisville offers the “Show Us Your Badge” program, in which select businesses offer discounts for Trade Show attendees.
Villavderde saves money by eating cheaply. “I don’t go (to the Show) to party,” he said. “I go there to do business. I do very modest meals while there. I’m just there for three days. I don’t need to go to the high-end restaurants.”
Apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor can help you find nearby restaurants in your price range. TripAdvisor’s map feature shows you how far you are from each restaurant, which helps you narrow your options based on transportation options. Yelp lists options based on your distance from restaurants. Yelp and TripAdvisor also offer reviews, which is important. Even the cheapest meal costs too much if the food is inedible.
Finally, bring snacks like jerky and trail mix from home, and carry them on the Show floor. You’ll still want to eat full meals, but snacking during the day keeps you from getting so hungry that you blow your budget at the closest restaurant that looks good.
Little Stuff Adds Up
Long days on your feet and unusually late nights can be real pains — sometimes literally. If you get a headache or blister at the Show, you could buy aspirin or blister pads at a hotel, but hotel prices for such items add insult to injury.
Pause before leaving home to grab moleskin, band-aids, over-the-counter painkillers and anything else you might need to stay comfortable throughout the Show. You’ll save money and time if you don’t have to track down those items at the Show.
Track Your Spending
Setting a budget is one thing. Sticking to it is another. The best way to honor your budget at the Show is to track your spending in real time.
You can do that the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, or you can use apps like Expensify or Concur Mobile. Both are available in free versions, and include features that make it easy to track your spending on the go. If you spend more than you planned on dinner one night, you’ll see immediately that you must find less expensive options for breakfast and lunch the next day.
Know what your company needs to order before you go to the Show. Photo Credit: ATA
Sticking to a budget on the Show floor is great, but your shop’s survival rests on your ability to wisely budget your inventory and Show purchases. Much like going over budget on meals, you’ll be tempted to spend more on inventory once you see and test the wealth of exciting new products available.
“When retailers are writing orders, they’re ordering all this product and they know they don’t have to pay for it right away,” said Kurt Smith, ATA director of industry relations. “But they might overlook that they’re placing an order for an entire year’s inventory, and all those invoices are due September 1. It comes down to planning. Retailers must look at what they expect to have in revenue. They must also know their sales history, and what their cash flow might look like when those invoices come due.”
Before arriving at the Show, review your sales history, and pay attention to which product categories sell at different times of the year. Identify your shop’s core items; the products your customers expect to see on your shelves. These are the products you need to prioritize for purchasing.”
In addition, make sure you understand the terms of your orders. “It would make sense to discuss payment terms with suppliers at the Show before you place an order,” Smith said. “You’ll always find Show specials, but it doesn’t matter too much that you’re saving 5 percent if it puts you in a bind at some point during the year. If a vendor offers a program that fits better with your budget year-round, you might consider doing more business with them.”
Although special Show pricing can be great, Villaverde warns that it might not make sense to wait until the Show to place some orders.
“Some companies are not able to ship quickly, and if you wait until January to place your orders, you might wait two or three months to get some merchandise in,” Villaverde said. “Being dedicated to certain brands can hurt you.
“Of course, some companies can ship right away,” he continued. “If those companies have any specials, I’ll wait until January to take advantage of them.”
Do you want more ideas for making the most of your Trade Show budget? Check out ATA Connect, an online discussion community, to speak with other ATA members to learn how they work the Show. Visit our Connect page to share ideas with other archery-industry professionals.