This year was our first large expo experience for me. Two members of my team attended as well, and the other two had fun elsewhere, like at the children’s museum and library.
The first step through the Exhibit Hall was breathtaking. It was so big and all the big names were right there before our eyes. This expanse remained breathtaking even on the last day. It offered me hope for the future—they started somewhere; we are starting with a single table.
We got to talk to potential customers, media and fellow developers on our released game Stinky Snake and our new game in the early stages of development.
What did we learn?
1) Eye catching effects are important—something that is above head level, so when the crowd gathers there is still a marker for your spot.
2) You have to engage and talk to people that come to your table—some may not want to talk and that is okay too.
3) Have multiple people on shift so that there can be breaks because standing and talking for 8+ hours straight is no fun.
4) Be prepared to talk about your project and have a sharpened pitch.
5) Get a good night’s sleep before each day at the expo.
6) Wear comfortable shoes—despite any desire for fashion.
7) Dress in layers—some days may be warm or even cold at times. Have your lowest layer be a t-shirt.
8) Pack food and water—these things cost way too much inside the expo; plus, you can avoid the long ass lines that happen with the large crowds.
9) Pack an extra t-shirt in your freshen up bag just in case there’s an extra sweaty day. Also, I would say pack a first aid kit. Never know when an unexpected cut might happen.
10) Check that all your cables and device chargers are packed.
11) Pack a roll or two of black duct tape. This can be used to secure the cables running through the booth where many folks are moving around.
12) Business cards and other marketing materials—I think this is crucial. A retractable banner with a carrying case is a good addition.
13) Review the expo rules ahead of time of event to be prepared for any issues that may arise. In our case, what ages can have certain types of badges.
14) Be sure to note where the bathrooms are to make things easier in huge crowds.
15) Know the security rules/protocols ahead of time, which includes what tools you are allowed to bring into the expo. You may need to leave your Swiss Army knife at home, even if you need it for setting up.
16) Get familiar with the parking options around the expo location if you don’t have a ride.
17) Know about the traffic patterns in the area of the expo. We drove in from NH and we planned to be ahead of rush hour traffic—arriving ahead of the heavy traffic and heavy expo lines. If you are early, plan accordingly and have stuff to keep you busy. The quiet of the expo in the early morning was a peaceful time to read a book or talk to other developers.
18) Always have a backup plan for backup equipment, just in case something goes wrong.
19) Take tons of pictures—have someone on hand to take pictures for the event.
20) Spend some time recovering when it is all over.
21) Follow up with the contacts you made during the show.
Just some things that we learned on our first large expo experience.