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12 Tips for Maximising Your Professional Trade Show Experience as a Visitor

Professional trade shows are essential events on any company’s annual calendar, regardless of the industry. The food sector is no exception. Agrifood trade shows, held every year in countries all over the world (these are particularly noteworthy), provide an excellent opportunity to network, discover emerging trends, explore innovative products and stay abreast of industry advancements—whether attending as an exhibitor or a visitor.

While having your own booth at a trade show requires thorough preparation and adherence to an exhibitor checklist to maximise your presence, even without one you can still extract significant value from these events. In either case, thorough preparation and a clear strategy are crucial.

In this article, we offer top tips to help you prepare and make the most of your time as a professional trade show visitor in the food sector (and beyond).


Before the Trade Show: Tips for Maximising Your Professional Trade Show Experience as a Visitor


♦ Conduct Prior Research.

Before attending a trade show, invest some time in research. This will help you make the most of your visit, spot opportunities and facilitate meaningful connections.

Specifically, take a look at the exhibitors to pinpoint those that align with your interests and check out the seminars and events to decide which ones are worth attending. Start by visiting the official website of the trade show for detailed information about participants and programmes.


♦ Set Clear Objectives.

When attending a trade show as a visitor, you should clarify your purpose for going. Put simply, know why you’re attending. Are you scouting for new suppliers? Eager to catch up on the latest food trends? Analysing the competition? Or simply looking to network with industry professionals?

Whatever your goal, clarifying it beforehand will help you use your time wisely and avoid wasting energy. In other words, it will streamline your experience.

Keep your objectives realistic and achievable based on the trade show and your resources. Don’t try to visit every single booth in one day. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and demotivation. And don’t forget to prioritise your objectives. If you have multiple objectives, prioritise them based on their importance and relevance to your business or professional career. This way, you’ll focus your time and energy on the most crucial ones.


♦ Organise and Plan Your Schedule.

Use the information gathered during your research to structure your agenda for the duration of the trade show. Trade shows can be vast and time can slip away quickly as you navigate through the crowds, so careful planning is crucial to ensure you can cover everything you wish to see.

Therefore, plan your visits to exhibitor booths that align with your interests and objectives, giving priority to those that are most relevant. Additionally, consider arranging pre-scheduled meetings with key exhibitors or even fellow attendees. However, be sure to finalise these arrangements in advance and confirm all details.

Keep some flexibility in your schedule to accommodate impromptu meetings that may arise during the event. Also, allocate time for networking. Genuine networking involves actively engaging with others, so take the initiative to start conversations and forge meaningful connections.

While it’s important to have a plan ahead, don’t let your schedule become too rigid. Stay open to unexpected opportunities that may present themselves, allowing room for flexibility to capitalise on valuable prospects. Don’t hesitate to tweak your schedule as needed to make the most of your time.


♦ Equip Yourself with the Right Tools.

If you think only exhibitors need to bring materials, you’re mistaken. Exhibitors must prepare a plethora of corporate materials alongside their booth design and carefully select which products to showcase at a food fair.

As a visitor, you can leave behind all this preparation work, but make sure to bring along all the necessary tools. These include business cards (in paper and digital format), pens for taking notes, a notebook and any electronic devices you may need (phone, tablet, laptop, camera) fully charged.


During the Trade Show: Tips for Maximising Your Professional Trade Show Experience as a Visitor


♦ Stay Open-minded.

As a visitor at a trade show, maintain an open attitude and be receptive to new ideas and opportunities. Remember, you’re in the perfect place to discover innovations and emerging trends in the food industry. So, don’t let preconceived notions hold you back; keep your mind open, embrace learning and explore with curiosity.


♦ Expand Your Network.

If there’s one place where you can make the most contacts in the shortest span of time, it’s the exhibition hall at a professional trade show. However, don’t limit yourself to the exhibitor booths; your potential contacts and clients can be found throughout the venue. Engage with other visitors and participants during networking events, exchange business cards and stay in touch with those who can help grow your professional network or client base.


♦ Take Part in Seminars and Conferences.

Attend seminars and conferences held during the trade show, but don’t feel obligated to take part in every single one. Simply choose those you deem most relevant to you and your objectives. These sessions offer valuable insights into industry-specific matters, market trends and best practices.

However, don’t just attend for the sake of it. Be an active participant by asking questions and contributing during audience interactions. This is an excellent way to make the most of the experience and to stand out from the crowd.


♦ Sample Products.

Seize the chance to try the showcased products and food samples. Pay special attention to new releases, especially if they’re from your competitors or potential suppliers, and feel free to ask any questions you have. However, remember it’s a two-way street, so offer feedback on your experiences and opinions as well.


♦ Analyse Business Opportunities.

Pay attention to any business opportunities that may arise during the trade show. Whether it’s forging new connections, exploring potential collaborations or uncovering untapped markets, opportunities abound. Sometimes, opportunities aren’t scarce—it’s the ability to recognise them that’s lacking. Don’t let them slip away.


After the Trade Show: Tips for Maximising Your Professional Trade Show Experience as a Visitor


♦ Reflect on Your Experience.

Take some time to contemplate your experience at the trade show. Evaluate the aspects that were most beneficial for you and consider areas for improvement. Additionally, ponder the option of participating as an exhibitor.


Stay in Touch.

Returning from a trade show with a list of new contacts is only the beginning; it’s essential to cultivate those connections. Simply collecting phone numbers or email addresses isn’t enough; you must initiate contact. Not sure how to do it? Start by sending them an email to thank them for their time and to exchange opinions about the trade show. By maintaining regular communication, you can build strong professional relationships in the long run.


Implement What You’ve Learned.

The insights, new approaches and emerging trends you’ve encountered at the trade show shouldn’t end when the event does. Share this knowledge with your team and consider implementing changes to stay ahead of the curve.



Professional trade shows offer abundant opportunities for visitors, but proper preparation is key to ensuring a successful and fulfilling experience. Remember, success isn’t just about the quantity of information gathered; it’s also about the quality of relationships formed and the effective application of what you’ve learned in your day-to-day work. Now, all that’s left is to enjoy your next trade show and put these 12 tips into action to make the most of your visit.

And don’t forget to share your experience with us! Did these tips prove helpful? What recommendations would you offer based on your own experience?




    Posted at 19:49h, 02 April Reply

    You have a real talent for this topic.

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