8 Things We Learned at CONARH 2015 – Useful Lessons for Expos
We hope you enjoyed CONARH 2015 as much as we did! We learned a lot during the show, and had a few frustrating and funny things happen. We wanted to share our story of CONARH and what we learned. (Leia-o aqui em Português).
1. Always double check flight itineraries.The LOI English team at CONARH 2015. Left to right, Paul, Adriana, Daniel, Hugo.
Hugo Pacheco, a member of LOI’s CONARH team, sent me a Whatsapp at 07:28 on Friday, August 14, to let me know that he was in the lounge at Guarulhos airport, and that I could take my time getting to him. There was one problem. I was still 10,435 kilometers away in Whitefish, Montana, USA packing my bags. Hugo’s message scared me. Did I miss my flight? I ran to my computer and checked my itinerary, and confirmed for Hugo that he was 24 hours early.
2. Murphy’s Law – Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
I had a stop in Chicago before heading to Guarulhos. It was an overnight flight, which would give me all day Saturday, August 15 to enjoy São Paulo. As we boarded our plane, it started raining hard outside. Soon there was lightening and thunder. The flight was delayed and then cancelled. Hugo thought I was joking this time. I had to find a hotel in the outskirts of Chicago and catch a flight the next day at noon, which landed me in Guarulhos at 02:00. By the time I got into my apartment and in bed, it was 04:00. It was a good thing I planned on arriving a full day before CONARH.
3. Have a plan…
We planned a long time for our trip to CONARH, and spent a lot of money (for a small company) on a banner, an iPad podium, and two really nice giveaway prizes – an AppleWatch and an iPad. I was 100 percent sure that 1,000s of people would flock to our stand and give us their emails once they learned about our prizes.
4. …then burn the plan.
Despite our plans, which we made having never done a trade show, people did not flock to our stand. In fact, people hardly looked at it. At first we thought it was because none of our banners mentioned the giveaway, so we had an enormous poster printed with the iPad and AppleWatch. It helped a little, but not much. I may be an Apple geek, but the people at CONARH didn’t seem interested. We needed to change tactics completely.
5. Get comfortable outside your comfort zone.
Ultimately, the only way we made contact with customers was by approaching them and talking to them directly about what we offered. The four of us, Adriana Menoli, Daniel Madruga, Hugo and I are used to working behind computers all day, and had never done anything like this. Despite that, we all persevered, and by the end of the show everyone seemed comfortable approaching complete strangers to tell them about our English and Spanish classes. Our notes show that we spoke to more than 700 individuals at CONARH!
6. How to beat Murphy’s Law.
Things went wrong throughout the show. I locked several important things, including a medication that I need to take every night, in my hotel safe and forgot the combination. Daniel and Adriana got really sick (but continued working hard anyways). Parts of our display were damaged and lost during the flight, and could not be used. The very first people I approached at CONARH to talk to about our product looked at me like I was crazy and said “não.” Later we realized they were hearing impaired.
Despite all these things, our team continued to work hard, and everything that went wrong eventually became a funny story we told.
7. Expos are not easy!
Before going to CONARH, I attended a webinar that warned not to let your team party too much the night before shows. This was never even close to a problem for us – usually after dinner we were too tired to have more than 1 beer before bed. It never occurred to me that running a stand at a tradeshow all day would be exhausting work, but it was! At first I thought it was just me, because I was using Portuguese way more than I was accustomed to. But the rest of the LOI team, Hugo, Adriana and Daniel, are native Portuguese speakers, and they were all exhausted too. It takes a lot of focus and energy to spend a day explaining a product to people, and we felt it.
8. The show is the beginning.
When the show was over, we had made a lot of new contacts that we were excited about, but we realized that, just like with our stand, we couldn’t just sit back and wait for good things to happen now. The work of a exposition like CONARH takes place in the weeks and months after the show is over.