InfoComm is less than a week away but the educational opportunities and related show events begin Saturday. Many of you are likely already in countdown mode, packing to travel in as few as 72 hours from now! WOW!
To make sure you don’t forget anything, here is my list of 15 essential items to pack for InfoComm 2016.
- Sun Protection – We’re going to be in Vegas, kids. That’s the desert – hot and sunny more often than not. Make sure you bring some sort of sun protection if you don’t want to look like a lobster! Sunscreen lotion or spray, UV protectant clothing, UV blocking sunglasses, a big ole floppy hat, what you bring is up to you but make sure you have something or you’ll be hurting all week long! Aloe or cooling spray are also great to have as backups, in case you forget your sun protection or it wears off.
- ChapStick – Along those lines, don’t forget your ChapStick or favorite brand lip balm. It is so dry in Vegas some people’s lips crack as soon as they get off the plane! We’re going to be talking, networking, generally flapping our lips the whole time we’re out there, so lip balm is key for comfort. (Of course, if you forget yours, you can usually find some as swag from exhibitors. A little birdie told me that you can pick up official AVNation lip balm at booth N2821! Just saying…)
- Mints/Gum and 12. Hand Sanitizer – I mentioned we’re going to be doing a lot of talking and shaking hands as we network our way through this giant show. That’s what makes #13 and #12 so important. Breath mints and/or gum are vital! They prevent dry mouth from talking too much in the desert AND prevent potential embarrassment from bad breath. The hand sanitizer helps keep germs away even after shaking hands day in and day out.
- Notetaking – This is one of the most important essentials for a work event, especially a major trade show like InfoComm. It doesn’t matter if you are old school (note pad and pens/pencils) or new school (tablet device and notetaking app of choice), the key is to have a way to jot down notes throughout your week. Meet someone interesting that you want to follow up with after the show? Make a note! Hear a great insight from the keynote speaker, or a classmate in an education session, or that guy next to you at lunch? Make a note! See a killer new product that you MUST show a coworker? Make a note! Personally, I carry a small notebook and pen with me everywhere at the show AND use Evernote on my phone/tablet. I jot down key ideas on whichever is quickest and compile it all after the show for follow up and action.
- Business Cards – Yeah, I know. This shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, but you’d be surprised how often people forget to pack their cards. At InfoComm, you need your cards for formal business meetings with vendors or clients, for informal networking at parties and lunch, and you need your cards to drop in the bucket or fishbowl for fabulous prizes on the show floor! Basically, you need your cards, so put them in your suitcase right now. Do it. Go! I’ll wait.
- Snacks – Trade shows are grueling, especially one as large as InfoComm! Yes, there is food available in the convention center, but sometimes you just don’t have time to stop, stand in line, and then eat a proper meal. Still, you need to fuel your body to keep up the pace, so bringing a few snacks in your bag can be a lifesaver and keep your blood sugar up until you can finally take a break. I pop a few Kind bars or almonds in my bag, but your snack preference will vary. And if you forget and are desperate, many booths have candy or other munchies. Not guaranteeing the healthiest fare as a freebie giveaway, but it’ll keep you going.
- “Oops!” Kit – We’re humans. We have accidents, messes and “Oops!” occasions. So pop an “Oops!” kit in your show bag. What’s an “Oops!” kit? A mini sewing kit or supply of safety pins, a small Tide To Go instant stain remover pen, a spare button, a hair tie, a travel pack of makeup remover wipes or baby wipes or hand sanitizer wipes, whatever you find most useful in an “Oops!” situation. Pop it all in a quart size zip-loc baggie and into your show bag. Hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do, you’re prepared!
- Fitness Tracker – If you have a fitness tracker, like a Fitbit, don’t forget to charge it, bring it and wear it. You’ll be AMAZED at how much you do during your week at InfoComm. Last year in Orlando, I walked 147,822 steps – 61.5 miles! – according to my Fitbit. That’s just the days of the show and show-related events! Bring your tracker to InfoComm and see how far you go! (Plus, it helps you feel less guilty indulging in all the great parties, dinners and beer garden visits during the week. You’re burning it back off!)
- Comfy Shoes – If you are going to be walking the equivalent of nearly 2.5 MARATHONS during the week, you’re going to want comfortable shoes! Buy some good insoles. Bring your best fitting, broken-in favorites. Carry an extra set of flats or flip-flops if you are wearing heels. Whatever you do, just make sure you take care of your feet. It’s hard to stay happy and enthusiastic (or even neutral and professional) when you can barely stand or walk.
- First Aid Kit – Now, I don’t mean a full-on, professionally stocked first-aid kit here. You can if you want to, but you have to schlep it around all day! No, I mean another small baggie like your “Oops!” kit. This time, it should contain over-the-counter meds (Motrin/Tylenol/Excedrin, Tums or Prevacid, etc) and Band-Aids. We swear by Band-Aid brand’s blister bandages and bring a couple of boxes of those suckers – see previous entry about why blister bandages might be important – but a few regular bandages are good too. If you want to go wild, throw in a tiny travel-size neosporin too. With this quick first-aid kit, you can handle most of the issues you’ll encounter. If the problem is too big for this little kit, it’s time to find a medic or doctor.
- A Good Bag – As you can tell, you’re going to be bringing several things with you before you even get to the show and pick up your free swag bags. So, make sure you have a great bag that is easy and comfortable to carry all day. Some folks love backpacks. Others love messenger style bags. Some give up entirely and use a small wheelie bag. Whatever you choose, make sure it has room for the items on this list, as well as some of the swag and marketing materials you’ll pick up at the show. (You will, likely, still need those free swag bags!)
Now, we’re up to the three most important things you need to bring to InfoComm. Even if you ignore every other item on this list, take heed of these:
- Power – Let’s face it. In 2016, people are addicted to their devices – phones, tablets, laptops, etc. We’re in the tech industry, meaning we’re probably a little geekier (in a great way!) and device-dependent than your average bear. We’re going to be answering emails, taking calls, checking our calendars/planners, taking virtual notes, snapping pics, tweeting and all the other social things, and using the InfoComm app. All day, every day. We’re going need power, people! In addition to getting a full charge each night, make sure you bring a power brick (or two, or eight!) and cord with you in your bag. Bring a regular wall charger (for your device and/or your power bricks) in your bag for lunch or class time, or any time you’ll be in one spot for more than a few minutes. If you want to be a SUPERHERO to all those around you at lunch/class/where ever, bring a power strip and share the wealth when you manage to locate and commandeer a wall outlet. Basically, be prepared to power up and stay powered for the duration.
- Water – It’s important to stay hydrated on a normal day, but put yourself in an amazingly dry environment like the desert, add heat, and then walk 10 or more miles in that day, and hydration isn’t just recommended, it is non-negotiable. Dehydration can make you cranky, sluggish, confused, or dizzy. Make sure you drink lots of water through the week. Carry a refillable water bottle, like the Bobble filtering-water bottle, and refill it at convention center water fountains. Or bring an insulated water bottle holder with a strap or carabiner on it (I have a great one from Thirty-One that I use) and keep purchased bottles cold and refreshing all day. Or go all out and wear a Camelbak. However you manage it, water is essential to a successful show.
- A Great Attitude – One of the organizations I belonged to as a kid always told us, “Remember, you only get out of it what you put into it.” This is very true of big shows like InfoComm. If you come to the show stressed out, harried, and harassed, you will find the show to be just as stressful and have a miserable time. But if you come to the show with a great attitude and an optimistic outlook, you will find great new technology, meet awesome new people and reconnect with awesome people you’ve met before. You will learn a lot and party a lot, and you will generally have a fantastic time. Plus, happy people are more successful! A 2012 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin shows that happier people put greater effort into their work and are more confident, both factors that lead to greater success! So, make sure you pack your great attitude and enthusiasm. See you at the show!