Last week, I had an awesome opportunity to attend the Natural Products Expo East event at the Baltimore Convention Center. This annual conference and exhibition attracts an astounding 22,000+ attendees and 1,800+ exhibitors from around the globe, and featured the latest natural and healthy products, trends, and solutions. As a relative newcomer to the events industry and to my position as a digital media marketer with a2z, I decided to attend Expo East to gain practical insights on how we can better serve our end-users. Big thanks to Penton, the official show organizer and long-time partner of a2z, for providing badges to several a2z staff to go out and experience the Show!
I had never before been to a trade show as large as Expo East. Heading into the Baltimore Convention Center alone, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I had used the event mobile app and the show website the night before to do a little research and plan ahead. By mid-afternoon, I found myself completely immersed in the expo. The level of detail to every facet of the show, from the stage lighting to the small subterranean city of exhibitors, was truly impressive. I have a long list of notes based on my experiences on the show floor, but I’d like to share three key learnings here:
- Expositions take a lot of work. Like, a lot. Attending Expo East allowed me to reach a deeper understanding of the hard work that goes into creating a truly immersive experience for attendees, exhibitors, and speakers. It made me better appreciate the value my team can provide in facilitating the experience for the event participants.
- Attracting & engaging the audience. I was amazed at some of the innovative techniques exhibitors incorporate to attract and engage attendees in their booths. From fully interactive, lit-up displays to live marching bands, brands incorporate a range of promotions to not only engage their end users, but also get them talking about their products. As I wandered the show floor, I also grasped the value that trade shows provide to companies in showcasing their solutions and making meaningful connections in just a few days.
- Every event is unique. Experiencing this event in person was a good reminder that trade shows differ from each other based on much more than just the theme or the industry, but rather the collective experience of attendees and exhibitors in a live environment. As a marketer, I was reminded of the importance of reaching out to and connecting with our users based on their needs and requirements.
Natural Products Expo East more than met my expectations. I found it to be an extremely enriching experience that helped me understand the “big picture” much more in-depth and provided a new perspective on my role in it. Perhaps a bigger lesson which can be learned from my experiences is the importance for everyone, from the seasoned veteran to trade show rookie, to occasionally step outside their comfort zone and encounter new experiences. You never know where a new perspective or solution may grow from.
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