Fresh eyes on tradeshow experience: Five things I learned during LightFair

June 24, 2022
Spoiler: This is not your typical from-the-floor 'reporter's notebook' style show musing...but rather one on the overall show experience.

As many attendees in the Las Vegas Convention Center heard me say, this week marked my first LightFair experience. I enjoyed getting perspectives from experienced attendees and exhibitors on how the 2022 show floor and activitycompared to years past. In my opinion, it was extensive but manageable. Beyond the square footage and booth sizes, contacts wholeheartedly agreed that gathering in person was immeasurably valuable for staying connected and establishing new relationships.

Like any typical journalist with my handy spiral notebook, I jotted down product details, application notes, and compelling quotes and ideas to circle back to later. But this isn't a compilation of those notes. Instead, I've decided to share my impressions of the in-person tradeshow experience and acknowledge the personal insights I gained this week as someone relatively new to exhibitions.

1. Scheduled appointments are necessary — but leave room for unplanned "wandering."

I met with some enthusiastic company representatives across the supply chain of components and finished lighting products as a result of prescheduled booth visits. And it gave me a great starting point for managing two short, packed days in addition to handing out our 2022 BrightStar Awards. But I could have blocked out more time each day to stop in where I hadn't previously communicated with an exhibitor (in person or not).

Bonus observation: A unique accessory is a conversation starter. I lost count of how many chats were initiated over associate publisher Veronica Foster's fantastic Western boots.

2. Still, reach out if you are finding your schedule going off course.

I admit to getting caught up with a few visits longer than I anticipated, and I didn't reach out to a couple of contacts in a timely manner. Mom said to call if you're going to be late. Why is she always right?! My wholehearted apologies (which I've already extended to those involved) and I vow to improve my time awareness and point-of-contact outreach in the future. Plus put more "hope to bump into you" contacts into my phone for faster accessibility.

3. It's fun to talk to C-level representatives who are just as excited about their company's tech as their developers are.

We are all "geeks" in some way and it's fantastic. I enjoyed speaking with product managers and developers, sales managers, marketing directors, and executives alike. Conversations in which the C-suite folks or founder displayed sincere enthusiasm for pushing technology forward in collaboration with dedicated and talented teams were just down-to-earth enjoyable.

4. Reveal your quirkiness; it might put someone else at ease.

Most of us are self conscious at some point. I am the FIRST to make light of my own awkward moments. Honestly, I made a joke about "carpet monsters" because I nearly face-planted over a booth-floor transition, and absolutely garbled a speaker's name on camera. A few contacts admitted to feeling a little looser when I showed my imperfection. Laugh, shake it off, and know that you are not the only one who wants to make a good impression. Be human.

5. Thank those who work behind the scenes.

Perhaps obvious. But I mean to include not only our own team members (thank you to our esteemed colleague Julia Campbell, for all your help with video materials and awards management duties) but also to people like the LightFair media center staff, especially Chelsea Peabody Bohannon (it was a pleasure speaking with you and thank you to everyone for their hospitality in the media center).

Sure, to many folks these observations will seem elementary. My experience with larger tradeshows and exhibitions is still in the "adolescent" stage (see, goofy self awareness). Overall, I had a great learning experience at LightFair and I look forward to the next event.

CARRIE MEADOWS is managing editor of LEDs Magazine, with 20 years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

For up-to-the-minute LED and SSL updates, follow us on Twitter. You’ll find curated content and commentary, as well as information on industry events, webcasts, and surveys on our LinkedIn page and our Facebook page.

About the Author

Carrie Meadows | Editor-in-Chief, LEDs Magazine

Carrie Meadows has more than 20 years of experience in the publishing and media industry. She worked with the PennWell Technology Group for more than 17 years, having been part of the editorial staff at Solid State Technology, Microlithography World, Lightwave, Portable Design, CleanRooms, Laser Focus World, and Vision Systems Design before the group was acquired by current parent company Endeavor Business Media.

Meadows has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards, and has volunteered as a judge on several B2B editorial awards committees. She received a BA in English literature from Saint Anselm College, and earned thesis honors in the college's Geisel Library. Without the patience to sit down and write a book of her own, she has gladly undertaken the role of editor for the writings of friends and family.

Meadows enjoys living in the beautiful but sometimes unpredictable four seasons of the New England region, volunteering with an animal shelter, reading (of course), and walking with friends and extended "dog family" in her spare time.