With CEDIA EXPO just over one month away, if you have not begun planning your trip, then now is the time.
In a year where time and money is on everyone’s mind, planning is the key to a successful EXPO. So, commit yourself to a few hours of preparation and consider these tips to getting the best return on your CEDIA EXPO investment:
1) Read the registration brochure available at www.cedia.org/expo. This guide will get you up to speed on the event calendar, new features, curriculum, and special events, not to mention a list of exhibitors. There are a lot of changes and new opportunities at EXPO this year. There are free educational courses for members that fill up fast at a first come, first serve basis, returning CEDIA Learning Labs sponsored by ADI, and a CEO summit on Sunday that will provide a way to network with many business owners.
2) Create a needs assessment and a wish list. Ask your employees to submit a wish list of courses they would like to take and compare that to a list you create for each of them. By getting them involved, they will be more enthusiastic about EXPO, and give you a better idea of their interests or areas they feel they need improvement. Your involvement is needed to keep the courses relevant to your business needs.
3) Create a company event calendar/master document. Once you have determined the best educational sessions for your team, a calendar will help provide a better snapshot of the event for your company. It will reveal duplication of courses, travel issues (like time away from the office), hotel room requirements, and total cost per attendee. Use the calendar to tweak the courses, dates, and rooms you need to stay efficient and on budget.
4) Travel smart. Look at the schedule and determine what’s best for your company. Perhaps staggering or overlapping the people you send is the best bet. Book a room for the entire show and rotate employees in and out to best suit your needs. Send project managers for the first two days and technicians for the second two. Take advantage of CEDIA’s travel discounts and hotel bookings available at www.cedia.org/expo.
5) Create a show “Passport.” Planning for the event and setting an expectation with your staff will gain the biggest results. The passport can contain the employees schedule, itinerary, flight info, hotel confirmation, per diem, receipt pocket, and pre assigned tasks or goals. Utilize the Map Your Show tool at www.cedia.org/mapyourshow to plan out exactly how you’d like your employees to spend their time at EXPO. Plan which manufacturers you’d like them to visit, but also assign some self-directed initiatives like: “Find three distributed audio solutions that we currently do not sell or specify that you believe would benefit our company or clients,” or be more specific, with: “Find all manufacturers that are displaying motorized art for flat-panel displays.” Adding a “treasure hunt“ to your passport can be surprisingly fun, so use tasks like “find the silliest product at the show” or “get a picture of you with Sam Runco” to add levity to the situation.
6) Engage at the show. Communicate and create meaningful relationships at EXPO. Manufacturers want more than to simply show products. They are looking for feedback and ideas to improve services and help everyone navigate through these changing times. Building a stronger relationship with your manufacturers will expose new opportunities. Engage with other professionals in the industry. They can provide unique perspectives and diverse experiences on issues that you are facing, and now is the time to create a wide network that will prove beneficial in the long run.
7) Post Show Review. Schedule a meeting for a “post show wrap up” within your company. Set the expectation with all attending employees that they will be asked to present their passport results and discuss the things they learned in educational sessions. Consider offering a prize for the employee that completed the passport and made the most of EXPO.
The most important thing to remember is that CEDIA EXPO is the
event for our industry, and planning will result in a bigger return on your investment. At www.cedia.org/expo we’ve taken the time to provide you with all the information and planning tools you’ll need to have your most successful show ever. Take the time now to plan your trip to CEDIA EXPO 2009 and reap the benefits the show has to offer.
Utz Baldwin ([email protected]) serves as CEDIA CEO out of Houston, Texas.