Trade Show Survival Guide: Mortgage Brokers Edition

Illustration of people at the AmeriSave tradeshow booth

Think of it like a trip to Disneyland, without the long lines for rides.

Trade shows pack a lot of action into a short period of time. From the morning buffet breakfast to the hotel bar networking scene at night, it’s a roller coaster of a ride. You’ll walk miles of carpeted ballroom floors and shake hundreds of hands (don’t forget the sanitizer).

And just like the happiest place on earth, you’ll leave exhausted, with a bag full of goodies and a handful of memories. What makes trade shoes different is that you return to the office on Monday with a renewed love for your industry, new connections and a head full of ideas for how to be a better broker.

Whether it’s your first show, or you’ve memorized the locations of the restrooms at every Hilton in America, veteran trade show pro Kris-Ann Carduff has created a checklist, just for you.

Trade Show Survival Guide Checklist

  • Study the handy little map on the trade show’s website to plan out your vendor visits.
  • Pack flip flops that are easy to put in your handbag or briefcase. Use them for the walk to and from the conference center. Slip on the stylish shoes just before you round the corner to the show. Your feet will thank you!
  • Bring a backpack or rolling work bag. I see so many people dragging around heavy tradeshow bags weighted down with brochures and specialty items. Roll them instead of slinging them over your shoulder. Bring an extra bag tag and check those items for the flight home.
  • Expect that you are not making the trek back to your room for at least 8 hours – so bring gum, toothbrush, and mouthwash in your bag. Lip balm, headache medicine, eye drops and b12 supplements are also a great way to keep you feeling vibrant.
  • Create a shipping label with your home address on it before you leave the office. If you don’t use it, you are not charged. If you need it, send all those goodies home cargo style.
Hand plugging in electrical plugs to a surge protector

What to Pack

  • Flip flops to wear for the mile-long walk from your room to the event
  • Shoulder bag/backpack to carry cute shoes and all that SWAG
  • Bring a flat box in your suitcase that you can put all the extra swag and stuff in and ship it back to yourself
  • An extra lightweight bag, like an expandable one from Ikea
  • Scarf or summer sweater–notoriously cold in conference centers, hotels and casinos
  • More than one pair of shoes. Just like you, your feet like to change it up. Wearing the same pair for multiple days will cause your feet to fatigue faster
  • Hydration packs are easy to carry in powder form and just add water
  • Bring saline or eye drops for dry eyes
  • Portable charging bank
  • Lotion—the HVAC systems in these places can be brutal
  • Throat lozenges
  • Power strip – you will love avoiding that annoying plug hunt required in hotel rooms. “Can I have light or charge my phone?” Have both! And both right next to you. I carry all my cords and the strip in one easy storage bag.

Staying Hydrated: Water Bottles

Not just any bottle will do. THIS water bottle! Contigo Autoseal Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle. And no, this is not a paid endorsement.

I bet I have tried 50+ water bottles and finally found one that does it all. Here are the must haves:

  • It can’t be so big that my arm is worn out from dragging it around.
  • The lid must screw off and have a wide opening for many different styles of ice cube.
  • Although a screw on top is good for filling, I don’t have the luxury of twisting on and off a lid every time I want a sip of water.  Contigo bottle has a push button release when you want to sip.
  • There is an easy loop for carrying it with my fingers or attaching a carabiner and clipping it to a bag.
  • Stainless steel so there is no plastic taste and the beverages stay cold for 24 hours. (Mmm nothing like ice cold water and 3am.) Whether you’re just going to bed with two capsules of hangover prevention, or waking up dehydrated because all that hotel oxygen and lack of seeing the outdoors.

I like to have the cab stop on the way to the hotel, or I check in and then walk to a convenience store to buy a gallon of drinking water.  There is no reason to buy a bottle of water at $10 a pop. This way it is always there in your room.

Or, in a pinch, I immediately fill my ice bucket to the brim with ice. By the time I get back to my hotel room in the evening, it has melted into a lovely, sanitary bag of filtered water. (This method works best if you also pack a collapsible, travel funnel to pour it into your water bottle.)

Man walking outside with tablet computer

Avoiding Hunger

I like to bring protein shake mix with me so I am full and less tempted to eat and drink everything put in front of me.

I always have a funnel in my purse with a shake ready to be added to a bottle of water. (Not my cold, all day water. But one I can put in powder, shake it like I am trying to roll anything but a 7 or 11 and then discard when done.)