December 16, 2017

Business Travel Tips for Trade Shows and Conferences

Trade show travel and industry conferences may be your ticket to networking success, but the behind-the-scenes logistics can mean large expenses and tons of travel stress. Here’s how to come out on top.

Planning: Early booking can score savings on everything from airline tickets and ground transportation to hotel accommodation expenses. According to human resources expert Tiffani Murray, creator of the “Stuck on Stupid” series of self-help titles, planning and preparation are crucial for the time you spend on the ground at the actual event. Since it’s common practice for hotels to offer the same discounted room rate for several days before the event, Murray advises arriving a day or two early if possible. It will give you a sense of the event space so you can plan your time accordingly. Carry plenty of business cards and device chargers to make the most of your time between sessions. Don’t assume you will save money by staying somewhere other than the host hotel. If saving a few bucks means you forfeit free morning meals and have to dish out for ground transportation, then you may not be as far ahead financially as you think.

Portability: Even the lightest of show booths will require a fair amount of lugging. Choose gear that will get you where you need to go, minus the logistical nightmares. Pop-up screens that roll up into lightweight carrying tubes make a statement for a song and can be packed in a large suitcase. Padlock-ready footlockers and heavy-duty plastic cases with wheels saved stress at a recent science convention where my husband was both a panelist and telescope operator. Journalist Robert Ellis Smith, publisher of the “Privacy Journal”, favors folding banners that tuck smoothly into luggage pockets as the best way to get more booth bang for your buck.

Time: Veteran conference attendees know how to use their time effectively between meetings and informational sessions. This includes leisure time. It Happened Here, a travel app for mobile phones, provides detailed listings of historical events per location for major cities in the United States. Presidential marriage proposals, celebrity weddings and even famous movie scenes are included for your on-the-fly entertainment. If working in the nearby coffee shop cramps your conference style, a booking service called OpenDesks offers on-demand office space in cities around the country for as little as $35 per day, with frequent opportunities for free two-hour sessions and the option to book for half-day increments where appropriate.

Photo Credit: Think Geo Energy