In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending my fifth #ExpoWest (Natural Products Expo). I’m on a mission to find products for this blog as well as my business. I’ve learned a few things when it comes to weaving through the maze that is the expo floor – or floors, rather. Expo West is held at the Anaheim Convention Center and by the time you end your day, you’ll likely have walked at least 15,000 steps… or double that!
I’ve compiled some tips that have been tried and true to me. Trust.
Tips to Surviving the Natural Products Expo
1. Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes. I have worn running shoes, Clarks Cloudsteppers, Tory Burch flats – changing it up every day I’ve attended. You’ll be on your feet almost the entire time you’re there, not to mention the walk to the parking shuttles. Don’t wear heels when you have to canvas a 1.6MM+ square feet convention hall. Closed-toe because people don’t care and will step on your feet as they run to grab a free sample of [insert free food item].
1b. Business casual or clean casual. It goes without saying – you’re representing your brand/publication. Bring a light sweater or light jacket because layers. It tends to be chilly in the early morning and evening when you walk to the parking shuttles. I wear dark jeans because I need my pockets, and fashion designers hate women and refuse to add functional pockets in women’s pants. I’m always reaching for my phone, pens and business cards in my pockets.
2. Bring a charger. There are outlets everywhere but not much seating. You’ll see people sitting on the floor, hovering over outlets. There is likely more space in the Press Room and upper floors of the Convention Center. If you’re on a time crunch, bring a portable charger. Bonus: bring a mini surge protector if you can afford the extra weight and be a hero to your fellow attendees!
3. Bring your business cards. You will be meeting the brands’ senior staff, PR agency staff managing the brands, and fellow press and attendees like buyers and store owners. I do very well with my Moo cards. This “motto” has gotten me chuckles and they always remember me.
3b. Know your pitch/do your research. The staff at each booth meet hundreds (thousands?) of people each day. You may only get a minute or you may get 10 minutes with them. They’ll pitch you – so pitch back. Is this a brand you’ll want to follow-up with regarding a product review, interview or giveaway?
4. Establish a game plan for each day you’re there. There are thousands of exhibitors. I’ve got a mission this year to find coffee products (as usual), baby products, products sweetened without stevia, and so on. I’m also covering for a second publication so I’m looking for portable foods for travel.
5. Don’t stuff 10 samples in your bag just because they’re free. Don’t weigh yourself down with stuff you’re never going to use. Do not grab for the bag of eco-friendly kitty litter when you don’t have a cat.
6. Don’t bring big bags – plural. I’m bringing my backpack with me and that’s it. You will be able to find and pick up a reusable bag from exhibitors. Plus you’ll be parking at Angels Stadium and shuttled to the Convention Center – it is not a walkable distance with 20-lb bags of swag. (However, you can get back on the shuttle to your car and back to drop off your bag(s) and shuttle back.) Note – every attendee is carrying at least one bag of samples, so beware of shuffling through aisles!
7. Bring a pen that works on glossy paper. I like my Sharpie pens a lot. Some exhibitors will give you a glossy flyer with price lists and product info, and ballpoints or gels won’t work. Sharpies, y’all, Sharpies.
Optional – these work for me:
8. Bring a small notebook. I never remember everything I see or everyone I meet, so I bring a small Moleskin and write down my notes. Tip: You could also bring a sticky notepad to attach to each business card you receive – write your notes there, stick, boom.
10. Eat a real breakfast with protein. Nothing beats a real meal before you tackle a bajillion-square foot convention space. It is possible to eat your way through the expo but why start the day hangry? Eat breakfast.
OT: There are many vendors offering food samples as well as food trucks outside the building.
If you’ve attended the Expo before, what are your tried and true tips? Which brands and products are you interested in seeing at the Expo?
Have a super time at ExpoWest! I’ll see you there!
Here’s a throwback of all my past posts on Expo West!
Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links.