Follow these tips to get the most out of your trip to the NAMA One Show!

The NAMA One Show provides a great opportunity for vending industry professionals to find new products, make new partnerships, make deals, meet new and old friends and have a great time! Since 1999, I have been attending NAMA shows and have experienced it at all phases of my career. The diagram below summarizes the roles I’ve held while attending NAMA events.
NAMA One Show
The budgets for my trips to NAMA shows range from scrambling for the money to make the trip to riding in limos and attending the grandest events and shows on the strip and budgets in between.

I am writing this with a couple of weeks remaining before the show because NOW is the time for you to plan your trip. Set some goals for what you want to achieve from the show and start scheduling your time in Vegas! This isn’t an advertisement for the NAMA One Show. Most of you already know the value of the show and committed to attending. This is just some advice from my own experiences that you can use to get the most out of your trip regardless of whether you are attending the show as a small business, enterprise or hustling to make a sale. I encourage you to post your own experiences and tips in the comments of this post.

Travel Smart

  • Get in earlier. Stay longer.
    You won’t believe how fast the time goes by at the show. So many years, they are turning the lights off at the end and I am among many people who say “Shit, I didn’t even get the chance the walk the whole show floor!” It makes sense to get in early in the week and stay through at least Friday. Since most of your business can be handled on your smartphone or tablet. It makes sense to be where the opportunities are get the most out of your trip.
  • Pick a hotel close to the NAMA One Show.
    You can always get a better deal than what is offered at the Venetian to save a couple hundred bucks through the week on hotels that you will only use to crash and send some e-mails. What you need to realize is that the properties on the strip are massive beyond belief. If you are staying ¼ mile away from the hotel, you will need to budget more than 30 minutes for any time you need to run back to your room to grab something or change and expect to spend the couple hundred you saved on the room in taxi fares. This year, I am staying at Treasure Island. It’s close enough to walk to the show and the bar in the lobby tends to be a destination for after hours events. What I like the most about the Venetian other than the elegance of the facility is that it has normal places to grab a bite to eat. They have Subway, Chipotle, etc. that you can grab something to eat during your trip when you are not engaged in a meeting or gathering. After a while, you become tired of $30 buffets for breakfast and every meal being 2000 calories. Of course you can do laps around the Pierre booth until you eat a complete breakfast sandwich as well.

Plan your days at the NAMA One Show.

  • Read the exhibitor list and floor plan and look at the web sites of the companies you are not familiar with. Highlight booths that you want to visit and send messages to those companies now to pencil in a time to meet.
  • Review the education sessions and add them to your calendar (make sure to use Pacific Time in Outlook). A couple jumped off the page at me.
    • There is a full day sales education session on Tuesday. If you have people on your team who are sales people or if you sell and have not taken a sales training course, you should definitely consider attending. Although I have not taken this course, sales training is a key item that is under utilized in the vending industry and your sales people or you will definitely sell $245 worth more to cover the expense. For a sneak preview, check out Jeb Blount’s YouTube channel.
    • There is a session on Drive a Culture of Service Quality. This has the potential to be a great session. Throughout the country, companies struggle to find good route drivers and hold them accountable to representing your brand. They also compete so heavily on pricing and commission that they cannot afford to invest the resources necessary for training, HR, and even have managers running routes so that do not effectively manage quality. I wasn’t talking about you 😉. If you learn more about the survey results, maybe can see that you have the right people representing your brand or maybe you can learn what you need to look for in new hires.
    • The Technology Roadmap Session is full of some of the brightest managers in vending, such as Mark Houseknecht from Crickler Vending who use data and technology to the fullest.
    • Take advantage of any opportunity you have to speak with Eric Dell (@ericdell), NAMA’s SVP of Government Affairs. Eric has a fantastic insight into how politics is affecting your business and what you need to pay attention to regarding pending legislation.
  • Make a list of goals aligned with your company goals. Its easy when you think about it. Some of the goals I’ve had while at the NAMA One Show include:
    • Research a new technology, vending machine, business concept we are interested in from full systems to gadgets.
    • Meet with the executive from XYZ company to negotiate a rebate deal.
    • Meet with the decision maker from XYZ company to get an answer on:
      • “where is my rebate check?”
      • “when will this issue be solved?”
      • “when will this new feature be available?”
      • “when will this product be available?”
    • Meet with the executive from XYZ company to invest in a project.
    • Research a new line of business and attend an event to speak with someone in the line of business.
    • Meet with the executive from XYZ to set up a follow up meeting to sell them my product.
    • Meet with XYZ company to ask them to partner or integrate with my company/product.
    • Learn more about nutrition and tax regulations.
    • Meet someone I’d like to recruit to work in my company.
  • Schedule meetings with people who align with your goals and start contacting them now.
    • The 3 days goes FAST. If you told someone you will see them at the show without setting a time and place, plan on spending a lot of time playing phone tag with people walking the floor.
    • The NAMA One Show is a great opportunity to meet the executive of the company you have an opportunity with. Ask your representative to set up the meeting now.
    • You will get tied up in a different booth or conversation with someone about an opportunity. Its ok to reach out and ask for a 15 minute delay.

Be Mobile Ready

  • Download the app for the show unless you plan on carrying around the show magazine everywhere you go. There are many times you need to check the room location for an education session or meeting or look for a booth on the floor.
  • Use your phone to take notes and take photos of items of interest to avoid having to lug around a bag or a notebook that you will absolutely leave in one of the booths. I also keep a small notebook that I can fit in my jacket pocket.
  • Connect on LinkedIn to everyone you meet at the show right away! Connect to me now!
  • Invest in a compact backup battery charger! This is a must! Your phone stays on while in your pocket all day but when you are leaving the venue and need to request an uber, call home or have a minute to respond to some emails, your phone is always dead or very close! Rather than having to hunt for an outlet everywhere you go, invest in a compact portable charger. The larger the mAh (milliamp hours), the longer the life of the battery. This one on Amazon for under $30 claims to deliver the faster, most efficient charge and will fit inside your jacket pocket with your charging cable.

Your TEAM is NAMA!

Although you are the face of your company, it’s your TEAM that is NAMA. Your key team members must attend the NAMA One Show. Its common for medium to large sized companies to bring key team members to a NAMA One Show. Its also common for business partners to attend. If you are going by yourself or with your partner, and leaving home key managers, you will certainly be heading home short many of the opportunities that are presented at the One Show. If you’re thinking about whether or not to bring someone, bring them.

  • There’s plenty of time for you both to pay attention to the business at home while at the show. If not, you need to consider procedures and standardization in your business.
  • Divide and conquer the goals and objectives and meet together to collaborate on key points of the trip.
  • Managers go home with dozens of ideas and a TON of energy to make positive change in your business.
  • They will meet like minded industry professionals they can network with on LinkedIn and get future ideas and advice from.
  • Sharpening the saw is key to success as stated in the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. Education and information sessions and the exposure to the businesses of the industry provide the premier platform for your team to sharpen their saws.

Walk the Show Floor and Engage Exhibitors

At times, decision makers schedule so many events around the show that their time on the show floor is very limited. There are a lot of efforts and a lot of investments made to put the show together and YOU are the person they are putting all of this effort in to seeing.

  • There will be a pain in the ass trying to show you his gourmet potato chip that is “perfect for micro markets” (a term that buyers hear a little too often in recent years). He probably invested his life savings to start that business, rent the floor space, set up the trade show booth, and fly in to Vegas. He goes back to his room at night to run the business while everyone parties. I’m not saying you owe him a half hour conversation or a PO for a warehouse full of chips. What I am saying is to be mindful of the efforts these people take to get in front of you, regardless of what they are selling. If you have no plan to use their product, let them know. Don’t tell them to send a few hundred dollars’ worth of samples that will never make it out of your break room.
  • If you are heading to someone’s booth to ask them to resolve an issue you have with their product or service, that’s fine, however let them know ahead of time that you will be visiting them and schedule a time to review the issue.

Have fun in Vegas.

Plan your after hours as well. After show parties in Vegas are typically scattered at different venues up and down the strip and many are invitation only. Its not difficult to get yourself invited to these events, however last minute requests become more difficult to fill for hosts. If you don’t plan your night, you could find yourself looking for some friends who made their way to a club or venue on the other side of town. If you do find yourself alone, you will probably bump into friends at the casino in the Venetian or at Gilley’s in Treasure Island. Send an e-mail to some friends now and ask them where they plan on going.

Regardless of your budget, position in your company or product you sell, you are an integral part of the NAMA One Show Experience for everyone who you interact with during your trip. Have a great show and be sure to stop by Booth 344 so the Tech 2 Success Team can introduce you to OptConnect plug and play cellular connectivity for micro markets and kiosks.