The following tips are provided by Urban Expositions, which invites ABA members to attend its gift shows in various parts of the country free of charge and to take advantage of show specials, parking discounts, and more.
If you think you have to go to the large trade shows in large cities to make the most of your travel dollars and time, think again. Constantly expanding their product resources and buyer services, the country’s regional gift shows offer virtually everything you’ll see at the national shows — at a fraction of the cost.
Many regional shows are strongly supported by the top sales agencies that service a given show’s trading area. These reps often represent many of the premier lines in the industry, so you can be assured of seeing all the classic best-selling lines. What’s more, regional shows offer a treasure trove of up-and-coming resources, innovative newcomers, artists, and entrepreneurs who offer designs that are often custom-tailored to the area’s consumer audience.
In addition, trade show management companies also work to reinforce the regional shows’ product selection with a full roster of money-saving and business-building buyer services. Among the highlights are top-notch educational programs led by trade publication editors and industry experts, as well as goody bag giveaways where retailers receive complimentary samples from exhibiting companies. Many exhibitors also participate in programs that offer free freight, show specials, and other money-saving offers.
Regional shows are incredibly economical, too. Hotel rates are usually substantially less than those in major cities. As an added bonus, trade show management companies like Urban Expositions will buy down the rates even further to offer rooms starting, in some cases, as low as $39 a night. When you combine other features such as free parking and reasonable convention center food prices, you’ll see that regional shows offer great savings.
Buying Trip Quick Tips
As you start planning your buying trip, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time and travel dollars:
Book Hotel Through the Trade Show Website – As mentioned, many trade show management companies are able to negotiate some terrific deals with their host hotels, so be sure to check those rates first.
Pre-Register – Be sure to pre-register for the show. Not only will you receive your admission badges in advance, you’ll also start receiving important show updates and news about special events, programs, and more.
Plan Ahead – Study the pre-show guide that you’ll get with your badges in advance of the show to find the companies that will be must-sees for you while at the show. Most important, know your OTB (open to buy /financial budget) and stick to it! When possible, try to book market appointments ahead of time with the reps and lines you’re already working with, so you’ll also have plenty of time to explore new resources on the show floor.
Things to Pack – Make sure to bring your business credentials, like business cards, credit references, and business checks. A notepad is also a great idea for jotting down any key points about items you see on the show floor. Most important – don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes!
California Gift Show
July 18–21 at the LA Convention Center
Product categories include Gifts, LA Design, Handcrafted, Personal Style, Outdoor Living, Boardwalk, World Style, Vintage, Jewelry, and Cash & Carry.
The show will offer ABA members a parking coupon.
Learn more and register at californiagiftshow.com.
Philadelphia Gift Show
July 20–23 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center
Product types include Gifts, Vintage Finds, Gourmet/Candy/Confection, Child’s Play, Made in the USA, Handcrafted, and Home Accents.
The show will offer ABA members free parking, breakfast on Sunday and Monday, and a free lunch on Wednesday.
Learn more and register at philadelphiagiftshow.com.
Windy City Gift Show
July 26–29 at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL
Product categories include Gifts, Handcrafted, and Live in Style.
The show will offer ABA members a parking voucher.
Learn more and register at windycitygiftshow.com.
San Francisco Gift Show
August 2–5 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco
Product categories include Gifts, Design, World-Style Handcrafted, American Made Handcrafted, Home & Garden, Museum, Personal Style, Treasures to Go, Tabletop/Gourmet/Housewares, Village Arts, and Vintage Collection.
The show will offer ABA members a parking rebate of $10.
Learn more and register at .sanfranciscogiftshow.com.
Seattle Gift Show
August 16–19 at the Washington State Convention Center
Product categories include Gifts & Collectibles, Handcrafted, Home & Garden, Food Focus, Personal Style, Northwest Directions, and more.
The show will offer ABA members free parking. (Use the code ABA2014 when registering and bring your badge and receipt to the show office to be reimbursed.)
Learn more and register at seattlegiftshow.com/Content/327.htm.
Boston Gift Show
March 28–31, 2015, at the Boston Convention Center
Product categories include Gifts, Souvenir Source, Handcrafted, Made in New England, and Treasures to Go.
The show will offer ABA members a parking rebate of $15.
Learn more and register at bostongiftshow.com.
Additionally, on every show there are order-writing incentives: For every $100 order written and shown, the buyer will be entered into daily drawings to win $50 cash or a $50 merchandise credit.
The full calendar of shows can be found on the Urban Expositions website. ABA members will be offered free admission to any Urban Gift or Souvenir Event.