So, you’ve made the cut. Your application was turned in. Your acceptance letter has come back. You set forth all those last minute booth design details. You coordinated the logistics. And it’s official. You’re going to MEDICA. And you’re hoping you’re totally prepared as a first-time exhibitor.
Well, don’t fret. As a newbie to the game myself, I can commiserate with the overwhelming feelings the trade shows as large as MEDICA can present. But I have a few tips and tricks to help ease your mind. And for those who’ve even attended for 20+ years, you might find this refreshing!
1. Ask for Help.
It is true that you are travelling to Düsseldorf, Germany, where the German people speak German. But if you’ve never been abroad before, I can tell you it is far more common than you think for people to speak English – both inside the fairgrounds and out! If you are lost, confused, or just want general directions to the nearest bar that sells Alt Bier, ask a friendly Messe Düsseldorf employee. They should be pretty easy to spot as they tend to wear uniforms with the Messe Düsseldorf orange ties or scarfs. They will also be carrying a nice name badge upon their outfit like this:
2. Dress to Impress.
European trade shows do tend to be more formal than we are often used to in the States. It will not be uncommon for you to see even attendees at the show dressed to the nines. However, on this note I must add that comfortable shoes are a must. You may be very used to standing a lot at other trade shows, but the Messe Düsseldorf Fairgrounds are large enough for you to consider skimping on your workout regimen for a month (that’s including the Thanksgiving season, folks)! Wear professional shoes, but practice breaking them in first.
3. Bring enough Business Cards to Fill your Suitcase
Okay. Checking another entire bag may be a bit drastic. But it isn’t as common yet to see lead retrieval systems in Germany (for many many many cultural and legal reasons). European business still values face-to-face communication and handing over a business card is sort of like your receipt from that interaction. And you will be interacting. A lot.
4. Punctuality is Key.
American culture has trained us to set meetings and arrive “fashionably late,” meaning roughly 5 minutes past the set time. Germans are more culturally attuned to “on time is late.” So make sure you’re prepared. Know where you’re going, and even review a map of the city or map of the trains ahead of time. On that same note, it is best advised that you don’t pack up your booth early. It is more professional and formal to stay until the very last minute.
5. Relax and Enjoy it!
You’re here on business, sure! But the planning that it takes to exhibit at a show is usually harder than being present. I’m not going to advocate the motto of “90% of success is just showing up”, but I will advise you take a deep breath, smile for the attendees, and enjoy yourself abroad. In fact, with one MEDICA show under your belt, you deserve to pat yourself on the back, because now you’ll be über prepared for 2015!
Speaking of which: Make sure to keep those eyes peeled for the open registration announcement for MEDICA 2015 around early December!
If you have any other questions, comments, or concerns – get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re happy to help. I also advise you follow us on Twitter @mdnachicago where we post helpful tips often!