The Show Survival Guide
Whether you are a show veteran or decided that this show is going to be your first – you need to prepare yourself. The show is 4 packed days full of miles of walking, exchanging business cards, attending seminars, meeting new people, catching up with old friends and colleagues, eating, drinking and (should you want to…) partying.
It can be very draining, we meet lots of people during the course of the show and have picked up lots of tips during our years providing coverage for the show and want to share a few here to help you get the most of your experience
What is the DEMA Show
The DEMA Show 2014 is being held in the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV (USA) between 19 – 22 November 2014. It brings together a large percentage of the international diving trade with hundreds of exhibits featuring the leading dive equipment manufacturers, travel destinations, water sports apparel, and services, often with most of these exhibitors offer show-exclusive discounts.
There are also a number of areas in the show that can keep you busy:
- DEMA and Exhibitor Sponsored Seminars
- Espresso Education Sessions – energizing keynote sessions on effective business strategies before the show opens
- DEMA Retailer Resource Center (RRC) — an interactive display area and educational program that provides retailers with the latest tools and industry best-practices.
- Image Resource Center (IRC) — an exclusive area of the show floor featuring photo- and video-related exhibitors as well as seminars on how underwater photography and videos can be powerful selling tools for the dive retailer.
- Travel Resource Center (TRC) — designed to help you get started as a Dive Travel Specialist.
- Dive Training Agency and Exhibitor Sponsored Seminar.
- DEMA Awards Party, the industry networking event.
- DiveCaching Travel Resource Center (DCTRC) — another DEMA Show exclusive designed to help you get started as a Dive Travel Specialist and help your business get in on this profit center.
Considering that there are normally over 1000 booths at the show and you’ll be there with up to 11,000 of your fellow dive industry professionals, you need to do some planning to make the most of the show.
The video below is from DEMA themselves and describes the benefits on offer for attending.
Before the show
Make a game plan – this show can be overwhelming. To make the most of it you need to head over to the DEMA Show website and download the Exhibitor List. Review the list and note the booth number of the people you really want to see. Then take a look at the seminar schedule and pick out any key seminars you want to attend. Remember that whilst you are planning your schedule to give yourself room for breaks. If you pack in something for every minute of the day you’ll be broken by day two. Budget in some decent breaks to get away from all the action.
Set your meeting calendar in advance – get your emails out to friends and colleagues and start building into your schedule some meetings. However be realistic. You are going to have very, very busy days so plan your meetings in, although try to avoid trying to get that meeting booked in for late at night in Orlando after your third after-party – neither of you will remember what was said. Catching up over a coffee can be a very effective way of meeting, and remember – others are in the same boat and running around as much as you will be!
Wear comfortable shoes – the ache in your legs from walking miles or standing around for hours can really get to you, so remember to pack comfortable shoes (and clothes).
Leave some suitcase space – you are likely to come home with a big pile of trinkets, brochures, CD’s, pens, mugs, keychains and other diving related accessories than any human being in their lifetime. Make sure you leave room in your suitcase for all this. We’d also suggest bringing along a lightweight shoulder bag – it takes up little room in your suitcase but can be a lifesaver on the show floor.
At the DEMA Show
Pace yourself – We see it every year, people walk into the show and get this look in their eye that says they want to see and do everything. Remember that with so many things under one roof you can’t and you have to prioritize – which if you’ve followed the advice above you should be prepared before arriving at the show.
Watch the budget - internet/wifi and food at the show can be cripplingly expensive. With a little thought you can avoid breaking the bank by bringing your own 3G card for internet usage or using the hotel internet, as well as bringing a bottle of water in that you can refill as well as a sandwich or snacks to keep you going.
Don’t forget your business cards – everyone has a whole stack of business cards, it’s the currency of the show. Make sure when someone says “let me give you my card…” you are able to do the same. You make some of the best contacts in the industry by having cards with you. Also have a pen with you and write some comments on the back of any cards you receive to help you when you get home. Oh, and remember to have a set of cards with you at all time (day or night) you never know when that exciting business proposition will make an appearance.
Download the DEMA Show App – this great little app allows you to ditch the big paper guide and navigate your way round the show using your smartphone or tablet.
Swing by the DeeperBlue.com booth – ok so not necessarily vitally important but if you have a product or service you are promoting – swing by our booth #943, drop us a line on twitter or facebook or you could also leave a message in the press room and we’ll schedule an interview.
Check out the news from DiveNewsWire and DiverWire - there is so much going on that sometime’s you need to get the lowdown from other sources (apart from our coverage of course!). Scott Jones and his DiveNewsWire trade site keeps you informed of the major scuba trade and consumer news at the show. Keep your eye on it!
Ditch the unwanted swag before you leave - before you head to the airport, sort through all the stuff you’ve received and make notes on anything you need to follow up on whilst it’s still fresh. Make sure you throw out any items you don’t need as hauling it back home only to be thrown away isn’t good on the back!
After the DEMA Show
Sort your business cards – you should have a stack of business cards from new contacts. Add them to your contact database (or set one up if you don’t have one) and make sure you don’t lose their details.
Send a follow-up email – sending a short “was great to meet you” email to the people you met is a great way of finishing off the show once you get home. Remember that networking only begins at the show, the real relationships and business deals get done after the show. Take advantage of you being still fresh in their heads.
Make sure you fulfil promises – send the samples, articles or follow-ups you promised whilst at the show. Do it as soon as you get home as normal business tends to mean you’re likely to forget.
Use social media to connect - in this wired world (and hey, you’re reading this on a website after all) you should look to utilise social networking tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook to connect with the network you built up at the show. If you don’t know how to then look out for a couple of seminars during the show that deal with Social Networking and the diving industry.
Hopefully these tips will help you survive at DEMA Show 2014. A lot of this is common sense but a little bit of preparation can go a long way to making this show your most successful yet!