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Surviving a Trade show

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Publisher’s letter as published in the September issue of Pet Age.

Wow, what an absolutely wonderful, amazing, tiring, exhausting SuperZoo show we had.

SuperZoo, and tradeshows in general, are quite the beast to tackle. It’s something I truly enjoy going to and I really wish it was longer. It’s not often you get to meet face-to-face with people from all over the country that you had previously only interacted with via email or phone calls, and now you can meet them and really build a relationship with them.

At 3 p.m. on Thursday I had a final staff meeting with everyone from Pet Age and I could tell they were absolutely worn out.

After talking to my staff, I decided to write a letter about some tips and tricks I have learned in my 28 years of experience in tradeshows.

First off, you need a schedule. There are two parts to your schedule. The first is during tradeshow hours.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you should have a good idea where you are going and when. But also build time in there to walk around and let yourself be distracted.

After 5 p.m. SuperZoo keeps going unofficially and should be one of your strongest networking opportunities. Retailers, you should be trying to get dinners with manufacturers. Grab a quick drink with them, go to the cocktail hours and meet new people. When running a store, you work countless hours; it’s the same when you’re at SuperZoo.

During your day if you feel stressed out or overwhelmed, go outside, get some fresh air, grab a bite to eat. Sometimes your body just needs a quick getaway and you will feel a million times better when you get back on the show floor.

Get in a day early. With tradeshows a lot of people are crossing different time zones, give your body at least a day to catch up to this adjustment. Get yourself settled in, time to prepare, time to set up, time to make sure you have everything you need. Being prepared will give you one less thing to stress about.

Also, on the final day, a lot of people want to rush back home. I know after the show I just want one night to unwind. I usually go out to a nice relaxing dinner with my staff, and then leave bright and early the next day after I am well rested.

Stay hydrated, eat well, take vitamins.

It seems that after shows, people get sick or extremely worn down. While at a show, you’re not eating the same food you usually would. A lot of people, including myself, are used to a certain diet and we tend to abandon it while out at these shows. Lots of times people are eating quick snacks, or are not getting the same amount of fruits and vegetables that they are use to.

Take your vitamins and drink lots of water, stay healthy so you can be your best the entire time.

Know your limits. As much as I hate to admit it, I am not as young as I use to be and I can’t go out all night having fun, and be expected to be at the top of my game the next day. Keep in mind what you, and your body, are capable of and don’t try to push it.

Rest is important.

- Craig Rexford

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