Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Unofficial Guide to Attractions Expo 2007: First-timers

Excited, overwhelmed, energized, and anxious … all emotions that make it sound like I’m preparing for my first high school dance, but I’m really just attending IAAPA Attractions Expo for the first time. After months of hearing about towering inflatables, ride debuts, and exclusive park announcements, I’m more than ready to attend my first show.

I started as IAAPA’s communications coordinator this past August, and quickly grew accustomed to show preparation: constantly changing schedules, truck-loads of supplies heading to Orlando, and mini-celebrations being thrown when we find out more exhibitors are coming. To stay organized in all of the excitement, I’ve concocted a personal tip sheet to prepare for it all; hopefully you can benefit from it, too.

  • Create a “Must-See” schedule: The week will go by so fast that it will be Friday before you know it. Pick up your show program at the beginning of the week and mark the exhibitors and booths you can’t miss. Visit IAAPA’s Virtual Trade Show for an easy exhibitor reference.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: The trade show floor is more than eight miles long, so comfy shoes like these are essential. I’ve heard co-workers rue the day they wore uncomfortable shoes on the show floor, so I’m taking blister precautions.
  • Meet as many people as possible: Networking between attractions proves invaluable when you need an outside opinion on a project. Some of the best places to do this are IAAPA’s roundtable sessions, which focus on open discussions and common challenges among different facilities. And as long as you’re branching out, drop by the Press Office and introduce yourself to me!
  • Mix it up: After seeing the trade show program, I can’t believe how much action will be taking place off the trade show floor. Our education sessions cover everything from FEC marketing to press release writing, and our socials (like the Young Professionals Get-Together) make it easy to meet other industry workers in your position. Make the most of your time; this only happens once a year!
  • Enjoy Orlando! Check out our recent press release to see what Orlando has to offer and plan festive nights and weekends when the show closes down. I want to experience the Blue Man Group show at Universal and visit Mickey in my off time.

For more pointers, check out this great tip sheet Ana Elisa, our V.P. of marketing and membership, created for first-time attendees.

If you’re going to the trade show, look for me in the press room. I want to match names with faces. And finally, if you’ve been to IAAPA Attractions Expo in the past, drop me a comment below and fill me in on tips I’ve missed.

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