With hundreds of exhibitors at the 2011 Religious Conference Management Association World Conference & Exposition, January 25-28, Tampa, Fla., RCMA members have a fantastic opportunity to shop for facilities and services to meet their meeting needs, as well as to find out about new hotels and conventions centers. But are you ready to maximize this opportunity? Here are 10 things not to do:
1. Wander aimlessly up and down the aisles. That might be fun, but don't leave it to serendipity to find out what you need to know and who you need to meet in order to help your organization with its meeting and convention needs. Prioritize the booths you would like to visit. Have a strategy and a goal for your time on the trade show floor.
2. Be unable to quickly articulate the scope/value of your meeting business. Time is of the essence in an exhibit booth, and this is no place to be vague about what your facility and destination needs are. Smart planners have a prepared request for proposal if they have a very specific meeting in mind.
3. Try to “do” the expo in one session. This will guarantee two things: tired feet and information overload. Take advantage of both days of the trade show and give your feet a break after you’ve walked the aisles.
4. Forget to pack comfortable shoes and an adequate number of business cards. Enough said on these items that are easy to overlook when packing.
5. Be a prima donna. You may be responsible for booking thousands of room nights that represent a huge economic impact for a city, but that’s no reason not to be a professional at all times.
6. Be a hermit. If you are shy, this is no time to go into your shell. Introduce yourself to others—planners and suppliers. Networking is critical in meeting planning. Critical!
7. Not wear your name badge where it’s easily visible. The fad may be to wear name badges down by the belly button, where they may or may not be flipped over to the blank side, but why not just wear it where it’s easy for people to see your name?
8. Focus on filling up your bag with giveaways. OK, some giveaways are a lot of fun and maybe useful. But they’re not why you are here, of course.
9. Forget to leave enough room in your suitcase to take home literature and giveaways. If that’s the case, or even if it isn’t, many planners arrange to ship home materials collected on the show floor.
10. Fail to follow up after the conference and exposition. Be proactive. Were your objectives met? Whom should you follow up with and how?