10 Ways You Can Make the Most of Trade Show Season

10 Ways You Can Make the Most of Trade Show Season

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Trade show season is upon you and with it comes a wave of excitement as you gear up to “hit the floor.”  You’re refreshed and ready to network with colleagues and vendors, learn about new technologies and, most importantly, discover ways to better manage and upgrade your course… Or are you?

Is it often easy to find yourself (not to mention, your Board), wondering if the expense of attending a trade show is really worth it?  Have you been able to show how you are maximizing the return on your course’s investment in your professional growth?  Sure, you had some good face time with folks you’ve been meaning to connect with for months.  You also returned home with a handful of swag, new business cards, pamphlets and case studies to dive into.  And, its highly likely you enjoyed being wined, dined and entertained by a vendor or two.  The real test, though, is how you apply all that new information you gathered back into your course.

To learn how to do just that, we sat down with seasoned pro, Ted Horton, CGCS and Senior Consulting Superintendent at BrightView Golf, who shared a wealth of helpful insights when it comes to preparing for, attending and closing the loop after a trade show.  As you prepare itineraries for your upcoming trips, we highly suggest you check out his list of the 10 Ways to Make the Most of Trade Show Season:


1. Identify the Specific Challenges Faced by Your Course

What specific upgrades, issues or hot buttons were highlighted in your course’s annual review?  Perhaps it’s as simple as updating your signage or as meaty as dealing with a subpar water management program.  Having a clear picture of the challenges facing your course will help you prioritize how and where you would like to focus your energies during the conference and trade show.

2. Tailor Your Conference Agenda to Meet the Needs of Your Course

Before you register, be sure to review the conference agenda to identify which sessions will help you find specific solutions for your course.  It’s also important to identify the speakers you’d like to listen in on that might help inspire your personal career growth.  Don’t forget to register early as popular courses and workshops will max out.

3. Divide and Conquer

More than one person from your course headed to the show?  There is strength in numbers.  Divvy up responsibilities so you can collectively maximize your time and free up space to dig deeper into specific areas of concentration.

4. Schedule Meetings Both On (and Off) the Trade Show Floor

When nearly every thought leader and expert from the industry is in one room, there is arguably no better opportunity for face time.  While mixing and mingling is a great way to casually touch base with industry peers, vendors and suppliers, its important to pre-arrange more formal meetings during the show or after hours (i.e. entertainment and dinner functions) to guarantee quality one-on-one time.  This way, you’ve blocked out a date, time and location in your calendar and can set a clear agenda of the topic at hand.

Having trouble figuring out who you’d like to meet?  Ask yourself these questions:

  • What suppliers haven’t I seen in a while?
  • What new vendors do I have the opportunity to meet?
  • What best practices can I learn from my peers around the country to apply back at my course?
  • What speaker or other influential person do I want to see for input on a specific challenge or need?

Want to meet with BrightView Golf at an upcoming conference or show? Email us directly at so we can set up a one-on-one meeting at Golf Industry Show or the CMAA World Conference both in San Diego.


5. Learn from Peers Around the Country

We can become so stagnant in our problem solving, innovations and solutions when we think inside the tee box of our own course or region. Make absolutely sure that you get yourself into the situations and meetings where you’ll meet people from other areas. Rather than traveling in numbers with your colleagues, attend sessions on your own and introduce yourself to new faces, even if it’s simply the person you’re sitting next to. You never know what you’ll learn.

6. Touch Base with Relevant Experts

Remember those challenges you had to I.D. before you registered for the show? Now’s the time to find solutions. Keep in touch with industry vets you know have a surefire way to help you accomplish your goals. Visit major suppliers to learn about new technologies. What’s the latest in turfgrass? What about irrigation and water management? Are there new grooming and brushing materials you need to learn more about? What accessories need upgrading on your course? Bring photos of the challenges you and your course face, touch base with relevant experts and head home with tangible solutions.

7. Learn from Rookies and Students

Spend some time with students and new suppliers. Not only can you identify the best future talent, but you can pick their brains. What are they studying? Where is the golf industry headed? Spending time with the rookies is fun, refreshing and eye opening.

8. Visit the Association Bookstore

Whether you simply flip through a book or two or buy ten to take home, there is a wealth of knowledge at the bookstore. Definitely schedule time to peruse the aisles.


9. Share Your New Knowledge

When you return home from the show, it’s time to share the knowledge you’ve gained with everyone. Summarize the information you gathered from seminars, discussions, books, pamphlets, and case studies, then report back to your course’s stakeholders.

10. Follow Up, Set a Plan and Make Solutions Happen

What to do with all those business cards you gathered? Update your contacts database. Follow up with a thank you, especially to a specific speaker or supplier that helped you find a solution to a challenge your course was in need of resolving. Then, set a plan to make those solutions happen. Schedule a demo, order a new product or request a proposal from a new vendor or supplier.

The Last Word

Making the most of your investment and the trade show experience is simple. Plan ahead and do your research. Get active, involved and social when you’re there. Follow up and follow through when you return home. Oh, and don’t forget to always bring something special home to the family. Whether its swag from a vendor’s booth or a souvenir from the city you visited, it’ll likely be just the thing your loved ones will appreciate after a week away on business.

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