How to Maximize Your Conference & Trade Show Experience

Conferences and trade shows play an important role in bringing the construction industry together and showcasing the latest construction products and technologies. However, in the past couple of years, most events have either been canceled, reimagined as virtual or hybrid events, or rescheduled. This year, normalcy begins to return as we’ve seen many of the big shows move back to holding in-person events. As the industry gets back into the swing of event season, here are some quick tips for more productive and enjoyable experiences at upcoming shows.

Check Health & Safety Guidelines

Events will still look a little different than they did pre-pandemic. As expected, health concerns are still top of mind for many. It is important to stay up to date on the latest show protocols and local health guidelines. Referencing current guidance can help attendees know what to expect at the show, address concerns they may have, and help them pack appropriately (e.g., extra face masks).

Set Goals

It is important for attendees to go into an event knowing what they hope to get out of it. For example, is your business in need of a specific piece of equipment, tools, or technology solutions? Are you interested in education, learning, and earning CPE credit? Or is networking the main purpose for attending?

Once your top goals for attending have been established, consider making a list of the types of sessions and exhibitors that are a top priority to help achieve those goals. Visit the event website for the schedule and exhibitor list and make note of any that would be a good fit or are of interest. The website is also a great resource for important details and information about other special events that might be of interest.

Plan Ahead

Conferences and events can be overwhelming with so much going on throughout large convention spaces. So, once your “must see” list has been created, create a plan of attack. Prioritizing the list will help ensure that top sessions and exhibitors are included in your personal schedule. Additionally, many events have apps that provide access to schedules and exhibitor locations on site.

Come prepared with a list of questions for exhibitors. When evaluating new technology solutions, it’s essential to address topics such as integration with existing (and future) products, security, uptime, cost, and support options. Some vendors may offer incentives for purchasing solutions at the show so it’s important to discuss with key decision-makers ahead of time. If an on-site purchase is not an option, then discuss a follow-up plan with the vendor.

Be Flexible

As the past few years have made clear, be prepared for changes that can occur at any time. Keep this in mind when booking flights and travel accommodations and understand the policies for canceling or rescheduling. If your plans change causing your attendance to be virtual, treat it as if it were an in-person event — block off your calendar and try not to multitask (too much).

Many are looking forward to connecting in person again as the value of face-to-face interactions simply cannot be replaced. A little planning can help ensure a safe and valuable event experience.

About the Author

Dustin Stephens

Dustin Stephens is Vice President of Sage Construction and Real Estate (

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