We’re fast approaching BETA International, THE equestrian trade event where the good and great of the equestrian world gather to see what’s going on in the trade…and what we can look forward to over the coming months. It takes place at the NEC in January and although there’s often snow (or if not actual snow, the threat of it), it’s a fun, warm, busy event that always leaves me a mixture of exhausted and excited. So, how can you make BETA International even better for you?
Exhibitor, retailer or member of the trade?
Whether you’re going as an exhibitor, a retailer or a member of the trade, you will come away with something, whether it’s an idea, excitement about a new innovation, a new contact, or a list of products that you want to stock. Many retailers use BETA International as the place to place their orders for the coming season as manufacturers use the show to showcase what’s coming up. Many stands also have some cracking show offers to save money. Actually, attending the show is likely to save you a few pounds as instead of travelling all over the country to see suppliers, they’re all under one roof…a few feet away from each other.
I’d call myself a seasoned BETA International attendee. I go each year to support my clients who exhibit, to catch up with magazines, to see what’s coming up in the trade, to network, to catch up with friends and to be inspired. For those who are new to BETA International, whether it’s the first time they’ve attended as a visitor or the first time they’ve taken a stand, I have a few top tips…obviously some of these apply more to stands than visitors and visa versa…
Tips to make BETA International even better
* Footwear – yes, footwear is important. Even if you’re on a stand all day and not marching around the halls, your feet will ache. Actually, everything will ache. Wear comfortable footwear. Honestly. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
* Hydrate – I don’t know what it is about the NEC, but I always end up with a dry throat and feeling a bit ‘urgh’ towards the end of the day. I blame the air con. And the near constant chatting. So make sure you’re armed with a bottle or water at all times. Yes, it’s not terribly ‘PR’ to be drinking water rather than champagne but a) the Ab-Fab champagne swilling persona isn’t true…and if you find a PR that’s partially drunk a 12noon on a Sunday, they probably aren’t the kind of person you want to work with b) water doesn’t make you feel odd (as per alcohol and caffeinated drinks..well, after the sixth one) – it helps enormously and is very easy to come by c) BETA International can be a bit of a marathon as there’s always so much to see and you’ll be walking miles in the day…water is the way forward. Honest.
* Lip salve – lip balm, lip butter, whatever it’s called, take some with you. Again, I think the air con’s to blame, but my lips always dry out…and a bit of lip balm/salve fixes it.
* Plan – get your ticket before BETA International. It’s a trade only show, so consumers can’t attend, but if you fit into one of the categories, you should be OK. You need to register here.
* Take in the fashion show – there really is nothing like it. If you enjoy people dancing around with whips, it’ll be right up your street.
* Take a notepad and somewhere to keep business cards safe – you will be given various business cards from people, and losing them is SOOO annoying. You can get little business card holders, or just take a notepad and staple the business card of the person you’ve been dealing with to the top of your page.
* Bags – there’s no doubt that you’ll collect leaflets and promotional material as you go around…so take a comfortable, easy to carry bag…and be careful about what you take. One year I was given a HUGE paper bag from a company. I ambled off, very pleased about it and what could be inside it and you know what…it was empty. Completely empty. I quickly binned it. It might also pay to sit and sift through your gathered leaflets and brochures a few times during the day to give you the chance to get rid of the stuff you don’t need and reduce everything into one bag. You’ll thank me for this tip when your fingers are not sore and red and you STILL have to walk back to the car. Honest.
* Phone – your phone is a useful asset…although not always in the way you think. Yes, you can make calls on your phone, but, in my opinion, that’s secondary to this. Take a picture of where you’ve parked your car and the car park you’re in. After losing the car for the best part of an hour in the pouring rain a few years ago, I always take a picture of it and the car park sign that’s the closest.
* Have a plan – use the BETA International website (www.beta-int.com) to plan who you want to see before you get there. All the exhibitors are listed, so you can see who you HAVE to see and then make another list of who you’d like to see. I’m 99% sure that there’s a floorplan in ETN’s February issue, which is a HUGE help. Or you can pick up a copy of ETN/BETA International guide when you get there.
* Do you need to make an appointment? Some companies are obsessed with appointments, especially if you want to see a particular person at a company. Drop them an email/call them before BETA International to see how they’re working this year. If you need to book appointments, make sure you don’t book them too close together, give yourself some breathing room in between. This means that if you get stuck into something, you don’t have to run half way through and, if you have time to spare, you can take in some more of the show/refill at the cafe before your next appointment.
* Tell your customers – if you have a stand at BETA International make sure EVERYONE knows. Put it on your website. Put it on your social media platforms. Send out a newsletter about it. Paint a herd of cows to show you’re going (OK, do NOT do the latter if they’re a) not your cows and b) the paint is not suitable for cows). MAKE SURE PEOPLE KNOW.
* Offer an incentive – if you’re at BETA International, offer an incentive for people to come and see you on your stand. It could be a corking show offer, it could be entry into a competition in exchange for a business card, it could be something completely off the wall and interesting, it could be sweets. Whatever you do, do something. Saying ‘we’re here’, isn’t good enough. If you’re launching a new product, tell people.
* Speak to the press – if you’re at BETA International and you have something new and exciting to show the world, why not invite the press to your stand to see it? You could have an open invite or organise a little launch and invite whoever you want.
* Have fun – yes, it might be work, but BETA International can be great fun too. They have a fab demonstration area where you can see real horses showing off new kit. One year, War Horse was walking around the place…and one year there was a man modelling sand into a horse scultpure in one of the aisles (it was amazing actually!). See the BETA International website (www.beta-int.com) to find out what’s going on.
My must-see places…
* The fashion show – you HAVE to go to the fashion show…even if you can’t stay for the full event, go and see some of it.
* The New Products Gallery – full or interesting new products from established brands and new kids on the block.
So there are some top tips on how to make your BETA International even better – enjoy!