This our Global Pet Expo Survival Guide and is not officially connected with the event.
FTC disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and any tweets or social media shares via Cat Wisdom 101 at Global Pet Expo will not be sponsored. All content and opinions about any brand at Global Pet Expo is 100% our own. There are other bloggers and media doing sponsored social media but I decided to experience the show from a neutral and unbiased position.
I’m attending the Global Pet Expo, the world’s biggest pet industry trade show for the first time. This is my game plan gleaned from years of attending a variety of conference and conventions. These tips are geared for women but men can benefit as well. I promise they will result in a more successful event. GPE takes place at the mammoth 332,000 sq. ft. Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. To avoid being overwhelmed…
Search ‘Global Pet Expo’ in the App Store and on Google Play and download it for free today! The app displays an interactive map of the floor plan and exhibitor booths. I like to play it safe and suggest printing hard copies of the floor plan just in case. Have all your contacts info. appointment schedule in a planner. Again, digital and hardcopy notebook.
Packing: Luggage and bags.
Conferences and conventions are usually 2 to 4 days which means you won’t need a ton of clothes. The event space is air-conditioned but still check the weather ahead. If at all possible, do carry-on. Not checking luggage saves time and money. Most airlines have an extra fee for even for one checked bag.
- Be sure to check with your airline for their carry-on sizes, policies and limitations.
- On the off chance that your checked luggage gets lost, pack your must-have essentials: digital devices, favorite cosmetics, meds and toiletries in travel-size (up to 2 oz. for liquids.) in your carry-on bag.
- Airlines allow one handbag/tote/computer bag. Choose a bag big enough to use during the conference to lug digital devices, notebooks and incidentals.
- I like to be as hands-free as possible and prefer either a tote bag with shoulder straps or a knapsack style bag.
The suggested attire for Global is business casual. Casual does not mean sloppy. Appearances do count and you want to comfortable, casual but professional. My brand is all about cats, so I would never wear a t-shirt with a dog or other animal. It doesn’t mean you have to buy a new wardrobe but pick through your closet carefully.
- Try on everything you’re thinking of packing, at least a few days in advance. Check if it’s clean, in good repair: no snags, stains, rips or moth holes and most importantly, fits. A long mirror in a brightly lit room is your best friend.
- There are wrinkle-resistant fabrics but I do two things as soon as I check into a hotel. I immediately unpack and anything wrinkled is either ironed or hung on hangers and placed on the curtain rod and steamed to release wrinkles. Close the bathroom door and run a steamy, hot shower. Hang clothing hangers outside the shower curtain. Hop in yourself. It feels good to have a hot shower after traveling. Leave the clothing to hang in the steamy room for an hour or longer. Then hang in the closet.
- I prefer hanging all ironed garments in the closet instead folded in drawers and usually request extra hangers when checking-in.
- Air-conditioned spaces can get chilly. Airplanes can get chilly too and I always bring a pashmina to double as a wrap/scarf/blankie. They can be rolled up and squished into corner of a bag without wrinkling. Layering a scarf, cardigan over a top or long sleeved top under a t-shirt all work. Choose colors that mix and match easily. All neutrals can be mixed but don’t be afraid of a pop of color, if that’s your style.
- You’ll be sitting, standing and doing a lot walking in a jam-packed schedule; this is not the time to break in a new pair of shoes or to find out a dress is too tight because you gained weight and forgot to try it on before packing (I’ve been there, done that creating unnecessary stress). My preference is for loose tops, pants or leggings with flats as comfy as slippers. I like red driving shoes with a non-skid sole. Red is my power color and gives me a little extra oomph. I leave all my heels at home but do bring flip flops for the pool.
If you worry about forgetting to pack something, remember most items can be found at your hotel or obtained nearby. Ask the concierge or front desk. I prefer to be prepared. Call it detail-oriented or OCD, it will make your experience easier and more rewarding.
- I keep a standard 8.5 x 11 (hard copy) list of toiletries and misc. items from earplugs, sunglasses to umbrellas and check if off as I’m packing with a colored marker. makes changes and scribble in the margins.
- Edit your final choices while packing. Note what outfit is worn on each day with a choice of shoes and accessories. It saves time when getting dressed and in a rush. Use colored markers to highlight categories. Check off every item packed. Repeat at the hotel before check-out so you don’t forget anything at the hotel. But also do an idiot check in drawers, behind furniture and doors anyway.
- Shoes. Wear comfortable easy to slip off shoes (for airport security) for travel. One other pair of shoes and optional flip flops. Closed toe shoes are safer. There are too many things to bump into. Check for scuffs, dirt and condition before packing. If you don’t have shoe bags, use tissue or plastic bags to avoid dirt or shoe polish staining clothes.
- One handbag other than a carry-on or tote bag in a neutral color that goes with everything.
- For three days, pack three outfits. I travel to and from the event in the same outfit except maybe a clean t-shirt.
- A comfortable bra. A sports bra, 3 pairs of natural fiber undies (cotton or silk breathe), shapewear if needed.
- If you’re planning to workout in a gym or go for a swim, bring trainers, workout gear, headband or hair bands, bobby pins, flip flops, a swimsuit and cover-up or sarong.
- Socks, tights or pantyhose as needed and a plastic bag to stuff a wet swimsuit or used lingerie before returning home. If wearing sandals or heels on a plane, I like to give my feet a rest and pack a pair of cozy socks on board.
- Nightie or t-shirt for sleeping in if you don’t sleep nude.
- If you’re bringing pricey jewelry (I don’t recommend it) remember to lock it in the safe when not wearing it. Less is more. Wear a key signature piece or a scarf.
- Glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses and their cases.
- A travel sewing kit and mini first aid kit is handy but at least, band-aids for blisters.
- Lint brush. There are mini-travel versions but in a pinch pack a strip of masking or painters tape.
- Travel size toiletries. I like to pack sample sizes of perfume, moisturizer, and a mask. Airplanes and event spaces are drying and stressful for the skin.
- Shower cap, mouthwash, cotton swabs, tweezers, eyedrops, nail file, nail polish,and remover. Most hotels have a good selection of amenities but not always.
- Digital devices: cell phone, tablet and or laptop, camera, batteries, chargers.
- Conferences are hyper-stimulating and exhausting. If you are prone to nervousness or insomnia, pack over-the counter calming aids i.e.homeopathic Rescue Remedy or prescription meds and remedies for headaches, upset stomach, constipation in travel-size packs. plus 3 days of vitamins, supplements in a small container. Chocolate, candy, and mints are handy but a protein bar, nuts, dried fruit are healthier. My secret weapon: a tiny bottle of peppermint essential oil. On drop on a tissue and inhaled for a few minutes will knock out a headache, ward off the sniffles, stimulate like a coffee and a few drops added to a body lotion will ease achy feet from standing and walking all day.
- Remember to bring small bills to tip drivers, door men and housekeeping.
Water, Water, Water
Nothing is more exhausting, dehydrating, constipating and aging than not drinking enough water. Pick up bottles frequently and carry one with you at all times. I like packing a small empty 4 oz bottle to fill as needed and stick in my bag. When distracted by mega stimuli, it’s easy to place a bottle down and forget it.
BUSINESS CARDS and other means of contact
- Before attending any conference or convention, you’ll want to make sure your business cards have up to date contact info. Make them as visually pleasing and professional as possible. You’ll be handing out lots to exhibitors, brand reps, PR peeps, media, other attendees and perhaps strangers on a plane. Be prepared. It’s better to have too many than not enough. You don’t want to be the person who says, ‘I don’t have any cards left”.
- I keep my cards in a small box and transfer a dozen to a small card holder in an easy to access location in a bag. I also keep a few handy in a pocket ( I choose conference clothing with pockets if possible) at all times because you just never know when you might meet someone, like in an elevator. You don’t want to be fumbling deep in a handbag when opportunity strikes. I learned my lesson the hard way. Many years ago, I was assisting a film shoot on the tarmac of the Westchester County Airport. A world renowned designer stepped off his private jet and walked over to me, asked what we were doing and asked if I had a card. I rifled through my bag and wallet to no avail feeling like an idiot. Needless to say, I never did that again.
- You’ll be collecting plenty of business cards. Place them into their own card holder or even an envelope or ziploc baggie will do. After meeting dozens if not hundreds of people, it’s hard to remember who was who. I like to jot down a note on the card after saying good-bye to the person to jog my memory of the connection. It may remind me to call them, Google their website, connect them to another person, a small detail about them like the name of their pet. Cards come in all kinds of finishes. Glossy ones are hard to write on so I carry pencils, pens, markers and highlighters for writing on.
- Have all your website/contact/social media accounts info up to date including any press or awards, latest accolades or key marketing points.
Everyone prepping for travel and a show is stressed with last minute details. Women are notorious for placing themselves at the bottom of the self-care list. Schedule in advance to have built-in (NO excuses) stress-busting beauty treatments like a facial or massage and a blowout, mani/pedi the day before or day of depending on your flight time. Airport kiosks offer convenient massage and mani-pedi at reasonable rates. You’ll look better, feel better and cope better when glitches pop up as they always do. LAUGH, find the funny in every situation. No drama or crisis will matter ten years from now.
Pace yourself. Say No! Breathe
Being at an event for three, very long days with thousands of people all wanting something is taxing. The lights, noise and visual stimuli bombarding your body is crazy stressful with and your eyeballs may feel like the inside of a pinball machine. You can’t do everything, be everywhere so don’t add to the pressure. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Drink or eat if you need to. Take a break if your have to. Escape into a toilet stall and breathe, stretch, do neck rolls. The world will not end if you say no. Say, no if you can’t deliver a promise, say no to the other party, the third cocktail and get a decent night’s sleep.
A trade show is a place of commerce but being authentic is more important than lying about how you feel. Who would you rather do business with?
- Make sure you know what your goals and intentions are before you get there. First thing in the morning, before you check email, focus on your intention for the day. What do you want to achieve and why? How do want to feel?
- Keep Your Eyes, Ears and Heart Open to opportunities. They flow to you when aligned with your intention and escape when frazzled and stressed. Stay grounded by focusing on your breath rising and falling in your belly.
- Prepare in advance for the #1 question: What do you do or who are you with?
- Plan your schedule but be open to Plan B. I always sneak away for a swim or quiet drink with a friend away from the madding crowd. My most fortuitous connections usually happen spontaneously and sometimes in unexpected places. Stay open to your intuition. Walk down this aisle or that?
TAKE NOTES AND THEN — — — USE THEM
- Take notes during every session, meeting or event you attend. The act of taking notes will help you to stay more engaged with the material the speaker is offering. This is very important by the time you reach the last session of the day and you have already learned so many things your brain might explode from TMI.
- Even if you take notes digitally, have a back-up. I like taking notes old school style: pen/pencil in a notebook or a legal pad. I like doodling and often get ideas while listening to a speaker that has nothing to do with what they’re speaking about. Bring extra pens. They always seem to disappear. If they have your brand logo all the better.
- I usually sort through cards and make notes before bedtime and during the flight home. Once when you get home, open up a blank document on your computer, and start organizing your notes into categories. This will help you decide what things you are going to do right away, and what ideas will take a little more planning or preparation.
- Follow-up with thank-you’s, queries, calls and emails within a few days.
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See you in Orlando!
Layla Morgan Wilde