Last week, Kelly and I spent the week in Denver attending the Craft Brewers Conference, our first international trade show. Although we have sent quite a few clients to their own trade shows, we had little experience of our own. We were thrilled as we boarded the flight to Denver, thinking everything would go off without a hitch. Why wouldn’t it?
To our (at times, frustrating) surprise, that was not the case.
So let’s back up a little bit. In the pre-planning stages of the trade show, we were scurrying to get everything organized. A trade show projecting to have over 6,000 people attending had us excited to show off all that we can do. We packed up 14 (yes, 14) boxes of trade show supplies to be shipped to our hotel in Denver.
Upon arriving, we found out that our hotel was not connected to the convention center, but about a half of a mile away. The issue wasn’t getting the materials to the convention center, but from the door of the center to our booth. It may not sound daunting, but it turned out to be a borderline nightmare.
The biggest lesson we learned was this: pay the money and let the convention center do the work. They will ship your materials for you and deliver them right to your booth. When you are done, they will pick them up from your booth and ship them back home.
People came from far and wide, spoke many languages and were engaging and friendly. It was a wonderful experience to see so many passionate people in the same room. Those who caught a glimpse of our booth, and desired to learn more, all had a different story to tell. From prospective brewers wanting to start their own business to successful craft brewers who found this industry early on.
The best part was being able to demonstrate our creativity and passion for branding and design to those attending the trade show. Our materials looked awesome – the Gaslight team rocked it with a new trade show display, hand-drawn coasters, portfolio brochure and a video show reel.
Hundreds of conversations, many samples of beer, and two successful days of exhibiting, we were ready to come home. It was an experience I certainly won’t forget, and if you ever have the opportunity to attend one yourself, I highly suggest it. The connections you establish, the people you meet and the high-energy vibe around you are all fantastic.