Tuesday, February 24, 2015

SHOT Show Survival Guide

I was able to attend the 2015 Shooting, Hunting Outdoor Trade Show also known as SHOT Show.  This is a show for those in the industries involved to see the latest offerings and to make purchases with dealers.  Officially, nothing is actually bought from the booths themselves.  Dealers will place orders with suppliers, but physical goods mostly don't change hands on the spot.  Others are there to cover the show in a media capacity.  The show this year had a reported 70,000 attendees and 15 miles of booths to see!

Clearly, this is a huge event.  I found my first time to be an incredible experience not only from an industry and new release point of view, but also as an opportunity to meet others that I normally would not get to see, including my TBOC brothers.

I wanted to share my "survival tips" with you in case you have the opportunity to go to SHOT show and it is your first time.  My hope is that it will make your first visit headache free and smooth out your experience.

Preparation:

  • Download the app - There is an app for android and iOS that allows you to mark the booths that you would like to visit.  It also pushes out notices during the week of SHOT show to keep you in the loop.  There's a few other features, but those were the ones I used the most.
  • Plan your route in advance - It can be a little hard to visualize the most efficient route unless you've been to the convention center that SHOT is held in.  My advice is to divide your route by floors and within each floor by room.  It's a little easier said than done once you get there, but take your time and get your bearings and you should be able to hit your route.  Whether you have enough time is another story.
  • Pack snacks and water - I survived on Cliff Bars and a 40 oz Klean Canteen full of water.
  • Carry a book bag for handouts and info - There definitely was not a shortage of stickers, patches, and other promotional items for the taking.  There's also catalogs of the new year's line up available.  And having a pack to carry it all in is essential.  Just be mindful of swinging it around and try not to take out any displays or passerbys.
  • Comfortable shoes and socks - I am a fairly fit and active guy.  I wore cushy Smartwool socks and my Merrells.  My knees and legs still hurt after the first day.  I can't imagine having sub par footwear compounding that.

Once there:
  • Pace yourself over the days - I highly recommend that if you want to take in as much as possible to pace yourself.  The show is enormous and only by careful navigation and planning and staying true to that will you have a chance at seeing most of it.  I would estimate that the entire time is probably what would be needed to have a realistic chance of seeing most of it.
  • Take the opportunity to sit if possible - Absolutely take the chance to sit if you can.  Your feet and legs will thank you.
  • Don't waste the booth personnel's time if you're not planning on buying - Keep in mind that this is a trade show.  If you are fortunate enough to attend (like I was), but will not be buying, then try not to take up the booth personnel's time.  They are there to make deals with distributors.  Just step back and observe.  Take it all in.
  • Do ask to take samples if it is questionable that are free - I did not see this happen, but I have heard of it and so thought it worth mentioning.  Sometimes, there are displays that may look like freebies or "freebies" that are only intended to be given to certain customers.  Therefore, be sure to ask before taking unless it's very obvious that they are there for the general trade show participants.
  • Do ask if you can take pictures - Officially, only Media pass folks are suppose to be able to take pictures inside the show.  However, I saw a lot of pictures being taken all over the place. I think that a good rule of thumb is to ask before taking.

If you're lucky enough to be invited to one of the after parties on any given night during the week of SHOT, then be armed with cash.  It generally is easier than trying to run your card in a busy club, bar, restaurant, etc.

Well, that's it.  If you've been to SHOT show and think I left anything out, then please comment below and share your tips.  Till next time!

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