September is trade show season. Italy, and particularly Milan, will be buzzing with professionals, buyers from several industries, media, bloggers and entrepreneurs, all eager to get the best out of the few days they get to spend flitting in and out of their trade show of choice. This is the time to launch products, road-test them with targeted audiences, rebrand or create awareness, generate leads and try to talk to as many movers and shakers as possible. We all know that the most important part of the job, when attending a trade show, is preparation. If you are planning to attend any of next season’s trade shows in Italy, we have a few tips you might find useful.
How to get ready for your next trade show in Italy
1. Book accommodation and event venues in advance. Ideally now
The trade show you are attending might be the pivot our your existence and the highlight of your year, but it’s probably not the only one in town during that particular week. Especially if by “town” you mean Milan. Even if you are hoping to attend a relatively niche event, with no more than a few hundred attendees, you should be aware of the big-league international ones around you. Finding accommodation and hiring venues in which to host your own corporate events, product launches, client meetings and showcases is going to become harder and more expensive by the day. Start planning as early as you can. In fact, book your venue now: it could be gone tomorrow.
2. Use local expertise to plan your corporate presence at the next tradeshow in Italy
Relying on local professionals, with accurate knowledge of both the market and the territory, is the best way to get your message across effectively. Having your marketing materials produced locally, for instance, is much more cost effective than having them produced at home and then shipped to Italy. The same goes for materials that you will need in order to assemble your stand. Research local suppliers in advance and work the time needed to pick up the materials into your timeline. Alternatively, you could set up a temporary office in town and have everything shipped and stored there before your arrival. It is also a good idea to have your corporate communication and sales pitch professionally translated into Italian, so that nothing gets lost in translation. While your potential clients will definitely appreciate it if you mastered the basics of conversation in Italian, it is also essential that the most important information is relayed accurately with no room for misunderstanding and in the appropriate form.
3. Know the rules
Before you travel to Italy for a tradeshow, brush up on the hosting city’s rules and regulations. Where is the main venue? Are you allowed to drive there? Most Italian cities have traffic restrictions in the centre. If you are not supposed to drive to the venue, you should look into alternative transportation, such as shuttle services and public transport. If you plan to host your own event, showcase or product launch outdoors in a public place, make sure you ask for a permit from the local city police in advance, as obtaining it can be a slow, long and complicated process. If you decide to hire a venue, make sure it complies with the legal requirements regarding the selling of food and/or drinks and the public performance or airing of copyrighted music.
4. Don’t forget to party!
There’s no point going to a trade show if you are missing the parties. No, seriously, there is no point: thousands of deals are closed every year over drinks at an after-party. Letting your hair down after a hard day’s spinning your product is not just a matter of relaxing and releasing the tension. There’s a personal level of trust, which is still extremely important in Italy, and which is easier to achieve in an informal environment than a formal one. Again, local expertise (or at least local gossip) is essential in order to know which parties you should be aiming for, based on the kind of people you are hoping to meet. On the downside, this means that the concept of “letting your hair down” needs to be reassessed: if you party too hard, you might lose sight of your goals.