By Greg Hannoosh and Mark Malloy, Next Step Communications, Inc.
After a six-year absence, North America’s biggest plastics show is back. Here are tips for attendees on how to get the most out of their visit to the show.
North America’s biggest and best plastics event is back and NPE2024 is coming to Orlando from May 6-10. 2024. The folks at the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) have been working hard to make sure the first NPE since 2018, will be the best yet. If you are one of the over 55,000 people projected to attend the show, congratulations – you’re in for a treat. NPE will provide you with countless opportunities to see and meet with industry suppliers, who can help your company improve its operations.
Attending NPE is a big investment. It’s an investment in terms of what it’s going to cost you for airfare, hotel, entertainment, etc.; but it’s also an investment in you and your company. If you do it right, you’ll come out of this show better informed about the latest products, technologies and trends in the plastics industry, with the contacts and information you need to help you and your company take its next steps forward.
When you’re attending NPE, it is important – really important – that you do all you can to make the most out of your time at the show! Read on for some tried-and-true tips for getting the most out of attending NPE.
First things first: Do you need your company’s approval to travel to and attend NPE? If you need to make your case to your company’s management team to attend NPE, the team at PLASTICS has come up with a cool “justification letter” template that you can use. To access the letter, visit https://npe.org/first-time-attendees/.
If you’re going to NPE, congratulations! Let’s get started on some things you should do to get ready for the show.
- Book your travel and housing ASAP.
- Plan and set goals for your time at the show.
- Schedule meetings with suppliers and customers.
Booking your flight and hotel. Doing this early is important. You’ll have a better chance of finding the right housing for your needs (price, location) and planning your travel dates by booking early. Start by visiting the NPE website and checking out the “Travel & Hotels” section under the “Attend” tab.
Planning your time at the show. There’s no better place than NPE to learn about new technology, machinery, equipment, etc. In North America, NPE is the biggest and best plastics industry event, and suppliers pull out all the stops; most of them plan their new product introductions around the show.
The show is huge, and you have limited time to see what you want to see – so it is essential to plan and set goals. What are you coming to see? Primary machinery, like injection molding machines and extruders? Robotics and automation? Auxiliary equipment? Materials?
For your company – not everyone can make the trip to Orlando, so ask what you can cover for them while you’re at the show. Consider calling a meeting with co-workers to outline what you’re planning and ask if there’s anything important that they want you to see.
For your customers – when talking with them, tell them you’re going to NPE, and if they aren’t attending the show, ask them what suppliers, technology, etc. you can be looking for to help them. They’ll appreciate the offer.
Schedule meetings with suppliers and customers ahead of time. It’s a given that you’ll be visiting numerous booths at NPE and seeing a lot of people. But, if you’re hoping to actually meet with suppliers and customers at the show, whether it’s at the show or after hours, you need to reach out to them well in advance to schedule your meetings.
Attending the Show
- Dress comfortably, bring business cards, charge your phone, etc.
- Plan your day(s), see who you need to see and network, network, network.
- Have fun!
Dress comfortably, bring business cards, charge your phone, etc. All of this goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway because these are things that truly can make or break your time at the show!
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of walking, and this is not the time or the place to be breaking into those new shoes. Bring business cards as you’ll be doing a lot of interaction with suppliers and customers, and you want to be sure to get their contact information and give them yours. Have your phone on you and charged – you’ll need it.
Plan your day(s), see who you need to see and network, network, network. Considering that NPE has over 2,000 exhibitors and 1.1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space, you need to plan your time at the show wisely. Start by making a list of the companies and/or types of suppliers you need to see. While most of the machinery suppliers are in the west hall, and most of the material suppliers are in the south hall, there is a lot of crossover as well.
Once it is available, you’ll want to download and use the official “Map Your Show” app – this is a useful tool for tagging the booths you want to visit. This app has a lot of helpful information and allows you to quickly find exhibitors, sort them by type of supplier, etc.
When visiting booths at the show, you’re likely to meet the top management of some of the exhibiting companies. Once again, make sure you have your business cards and be sure to swap cards with these people. Going forward, should you choose to do business with these companies, it is a good thing to have the contact information for the top people.
As for network, network, network make sure to connect with colleagues during the show and after hours. There are a lot of vendor events, both at exhibitor booths and offsite so find the ones that interest you and try to attend. You are sure to meet a lot of interesting people, and the opportunity to see this many plastics-industry colleagues in one location doesn’t happen often.
Have fun! That’s right, have fun – this is a great event, and you should enjoy it as much as you can.
- Document what you saw and what you learned.
- Follow up by tackling your to-do list.
- Watch the post-show industry news.
Document what you saw and what you learned. You can start doing this while at the show, but once you’re back from attending NPE, make sure to put together a post-show summary of what you learned. You can review this with your company’s team and with your customers. By putting it down in writing, it will be easier to remember some of the valuable information you gained by attending the show.
Follow up by tackling your to-do list. You will meet and talk with a lot of people at the show. Be sure to follow up with all of them if you promise to do so. Again, it was a big investment for you to attend NPE so make sure to get the most out of it by following up on leads and interaction you had from the show.
Watch the post-show industry news. With NPE, you simply cannot see it all. You’ll see a lot while you’re there, but the fact of the matter is, it’s impossible to get all of the news and developments coming out of the show. For this reason, make sure to subscribe to the various industry trade publications. They all do a great job covering the new technology from NPE. The coverage usually is by process (extrusion, injection, etc.) so it’s easier to find the specific technology news you’re looking for.
At the beginning of this article, we said that “if” you’re attending NPE it is important that you do all you can to make the most out of your time at the show. We hope we’ve provided you with some helpful tips for doing just that!
Greg Hannoosh and Mark Malloy are partners in Next Step Communications, Inc., a marketing firm specializing in serving clients in the plastics industry. Hannoosh has supported clients at every NPE show since 1988, and Malloy since 1994. As president of Next Step, Hannoosh manages day-to-day operations and client relationships and guides marketing program strategy to ensure all deliverables exceed expectations. Malloy has spent his entire career in the plastics industry and joined Next Step as a partner and equity stake holder in April 2021.
More information: www.npe.org and www.next-step.com