Home Shows: 10 Things to Know Before You Go
We recently shared a Facebook post about the upcoming New England Home Show (February 24th – 26th at the Seaport World Trade Center). In response, a reader wrote Maison Mass saying that she has always wanted to go to a home show but feels overwhelmed by all the options. This reader is definitely not alone in her home show angst! The sheer size of these expos and the number of exhibitors can give even the battle-hardened show-goer pause.
But fear no more, Maison Mass has 10 recommendations of things to do before you go to make the most of your visit:
Spend some time with the vendor list and show floor plan
Most trade shows will put out a finalized list of exhibitors and floor plan a few days prior to the opening of the show. Download the list and go through it noting vendors you are interested in. Then go through the list again and put a star next to those that are top priority. For example, if I were doing a kitchen remodel I might absolutely want to check out three kitchen cabinet shops, two granite and tile suppliers and at least one contractor. Highlight your priority exhibitors on the floor plan and map out your route ahead of time.
Review the show features for presentations and demonstrations
Home shows often have presentations and demonstrations that happen in designated areas on the show floor throughout the weekend. Be sure to check the home show’s website for these listings and build time into your schedule to attend those of interest. Some are panel discussions of pros talking about home improvement topics from a homeowner’s perspective and can be very informative. Others are fun cooking or product demos that can provide an entertaining interlude to walking the floor.
Be realistic about time
It’s easy for time to get away from you at a home show. Be sure to allocate enough time at your must-visit booths (suggestion: 10 – 15 minutes if you plan to chat about your project), time for travel between booths, as well as lunch and bathroom breaks. You should also build in some buffer time for unscheduled stops because, invariably, something unexpected and fabulous is going to catch your eye. One of the best things about trade shows is that they are great showcases for new products and services that have come on the market – so you don’t want to get in a situation where you feel like you can’t explore a little because your schedule is too tight.
Write your questions down ahead of time
For the exhibitors you want to visit, jot down any questions you have ahead of time. Once at a booth, you want to make the most of your time with the representatives and the easiest way to get all of your questions answered is to have them at hand.
Bring something to take notes on
Home shows provide a wealth of knowledge and you’ll want to be able to remember what you’ve learned. Have something – whether it’s your smart phone or a good old fashioned notebook – to jot down contact information, notes or ideas. Once you get home, it will be much easier to decide what you want to act on and to remember whom you were speaking with if its documented.
Bring pictures and measurements of your space
If you are coming to the show with a concrete project in mind, it is often helpful to have some details of your project to discuss with potential contractors, designers, etc. Don’t be afraid to bring pictures, sketches, measurements or plans for your project. The more specific you can be with your questions, the better the information you will receive.
Take pictures of products you like
As you walk around, break out your smartphone and take pictures of any displays or products that catch your eye. You can also use your camera to capture contact information by photographing business cards instead of collecting them.
Ask about show specials
A lot of exhibitors will offer show specials for attendees. If you are coming to the show ready to buy, you should ask the exhibitors if they have any deals you can take advantage of.
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing
Chances are you are planning on spending the better part of the day at the home show, which means a lot of walking. You’ll want to make sure you are comfortable by wearing sensible shoes and clothes. Consider leaving your heavy winter coat in the car so you aren’t lugging it around all day. Temperatures can vary depending on crowd size and venue, so it’s best to wear layers so you don’t feel too hot or too cold.
Bring a bag for swag, water and snack
As you walk around, you’ll no doubt collect literature, business cards and SWAG from exhibitors and will need a place to stash it that is comfortable to carry. It’s also a good idea to carry a bottle of water and snack for the day. Consider a hands-free option like a backpack or cross-body.
Tickets for the New England Home Show are available before the show for $9.00/adult/day. Kids 17 and under are FREE. Purchase advance tickets here. Tickets will also be available at the door for $12/adult/day. Have a great visit!
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