Get The Most of World Tea Expo
I have just returned from my second trip to the World Tea Expo and this time with a slightly different focus than the last. As you know I am a blogger and that is actually how I started out and had become known to others in the tea word. Last year when I attended the Expo my primary focus was blogging. I was looking to gather information on new and interesting products then of course report back to you, my readers. I quickly became overwhelmed. Let’s be honest I was like a “kid in a candy store.” World Tea Expo is like Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and all your Birthday’s wrapped up into one.
This year my focus had evolved. I am still a blogger and now I am a retailor too. Many find these two to be independent of each other but for me they have always been like “brother and sister.” They love each other but sometimes there is that inevitable friction between the two.
So after these two visits I quickly realized that I couldn’t be the only one caught in the bright lights and the razzle-dazzle of the showroom floor so I thought I would put together a few tips to help you “Get The Most of World Tea Expo” based on my experiences and challenges.
Lets face it travel is expensive and time is money so before booking the event ask yourself “why” you want to attend. It is an easy question to answer if you are a vendor with a booth or a speaker for an educational seminar. This question is not for those directly involved with the Expo but rather for those going as attendees.
Question to ask prior to registration:
Are you looking for new product?
Purchasing new stock at a discounted “show” price?
Networking with other retailors and/or bloggers?
Are you new to the tea business and want to decide if this is the right path for you?
Once you have determined your reason to attend, ask yourself if it is necessary to attend the Expo or if you can find the necessary information on your own through research?
1. Planning – Pre-Expo
Assuming you have determined that your best course of action is to physically attend the World Tea Expo my biggest tip is… “BE PREPARED!” I want you to plan, plan, and plan some more. You can get easily swept away going from booth to booth sampling tea, talking with friends, meeting new/old business partners, and more. It is without a doubt a challenge to remain focused. To make the most of your visit I highly recommend a “game plan.”
Step 1: Map Out The Showroom Floor
Before hitting the showroom floor be sure to plan out your day. Look through the booklet/guidebook that is distributed at the event and circle/write down a list of vendors you want to be sure to see. You can even find this information at the World Tea Expo website prior to attending. Each vendor has a booth number associated with it making it very simple to find on the showroom floor. Try not to get diverted or you may miss your opportunity to visit that vendor you wanted to see most.
Step 2: Prepare Questions for Vendors Prior To Visiting Their Booth
I can’t tell you how many times I forgot the questions I wanted to ask so I highly recommend you write them down prior to your visit so you are prepared and get all your questions answered.
*Carry a notebook with pen/pencil. iPad’s and other gadgets are great but I believe you will find the old fashioned method simplest while making your showroom rounds.
2. Put Your Plan Into Action – Day 1
Step 1: Collect/Review Notes
Try to make all of your rounds to the vendors you were most interested in on the first day. At the end of the day review your notes. For me this means I can decide which products and companies I would like to feature in my blog. It also will help me determine which vendor I’d like to do business with.
Step 2: Doing Business (Entire Visit)
If you are there to do business keep a keen eye out for deals. In most cases I would suggest waiting for the last day of the show to finalize orders. You may even be able to purchase items a la carte for a steal on the spot. However, if you spot an amazing deal and already know what you want place your order, do it as soon as possible. The perfect example is Tea Source. Both this year and last they had outstanding show deals. If you already know what you would like to order do it right away because I can assure you the last day of the show you will be waiting a very long time to place an order.
Step 2 ½: For Bloggers
If you are in fact a blogger like me I recommend you try to write a post or two here and there while at the Expo. Your readers are most likely following your adventures through various Social Media outlets like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. Your readers are most likely eagerly awaiting what you have to say with more than 140 characters at a time. The other benefit of writing more frequently is to keep the information fresh and relevant while you are writing it. Say you just experienced tasting a wonderful new delicious product called “TeaPops” from DeeBee’s while on the showroom floor you will most likely be able to describe your experiences much better as it happens closer to the event than later when it becomes just a pleasant faded memory. At the same time don’t write too many posts that your readers feel inundated which then results in you missing important product demonstrations, conferences, classes, and more by not being on the showroom floor.
*During the entire event I highly suggest using the Expo as the prefect platform to network. This tip applies to all attendees and businesses. I find the Expo is a wonderful place to nurture and foster new relationships especially with a cup of tea by your side
Step 1: Complete Priority Tasks from Day 1 If You Haven’t Already
Assuming you have visited all the vendors you did not want to miss and collected the notes you wanted to collect use today as a recap day and a moment to allow yourself to wander and discover new products and meet new people. The second day is also a great day to revisit those vendors you would like to further investigate and perhaps “seal the deal” with.
Step 2: Visit With Potential Secondary Targets
Don’t forget to keep your show guidebook close. In there you will find times for tea tastings, demonstrations you may be interested in, and so on. Again this goes with the planning phase. If you have completed all major tasks you set out to do you can move into phase two and execute product orders and other secondary goals you may have set out or yourself.
*When mapping out the Expo prior to attending the Expo it is wise to make a list according to priority. Once you completed your most pertinent tasks you can start to check off your vendor/class wish list. Remember all this information is available online at www.WorldTeaExpo.com
4. Tie-Up Loose Ends – Day 3
Step 1: Place Orders
If you haven’t already be sure to get your orders placed. Also if you have been inquiring about product throughout the show you will mostly likely hear vendors say that towards the end of the final day they will start to sell product they have on stock at a considerably reduced price. Be sure that you have a kept a record of those you were most interested in and close the deal on the final day.
Step 2: Say Your Goodbyes
To keep with the networking and relationship building be sure to stop by your favorite vendors and say your goodbyes. I have been able to build and maintain many wonderful relationships with vendors, bloggers, and others by just making an extra effort. You will see that each year more and more people will recognize you and later make the extra effort to “meet and greet” you. These small gestures can go a long way in business and networking.
5. Post World Tea Expo
Step 1: For Bloggers
I know it is easy to slip back into routine when we get back into our familiar setting but please be sure to blog about your experiences at least a few times a week until you have covered any information you intended to cover. Again, believe it or not you have created a following and if you want them to continue to follow you, you must remain consistent with your content.
Step 2: For Buyers
As for those who conducted business it is a good idea to review invoices and check your statements. If you run into any issues you can then address them quickly. Also, it is a good way to keep a record of what you can expect to receive and then appropriately create a product launch timeline for your retail brick and mortar and/or online shop.
In a future post I will cover some details about core conferences, workshops, and other demonstrations available at the show. Since there are so many options I felt it best to cover this portion in a separate blog post.
I hope this blog post helps better prepare you for future World Tea Expo’s. Please feel free to comment with your best practices and if you have any questions.
Edited By: Ralph H. Carter II