Tuesday morning was a ‘normal’ starting time day, an 8:00am departure from the hotel to the Trade Show venue. We had completed most of the double booth setup the previous afternoon and we expected to find everything in order on our arrival today. All was well, but we were still experiencing some sporadic temperature fluctuations with one of our sample refrigerators. Not a good thing considering we needed it for the duration of the Show to hold our cheese at an acceptable temperature.
The Show opened on schedule at 9:00am and visitors began to arrive. Our two booth assistants were their instructions regarding how to serve the samples of ice cream we had brought to the Show. The samples of cheese in our second cooler were rearranged in order that they would be more accessible and we were ready to go.
A typical day manning a booth at an International Trade Show mostly revolves the importance of comfortable shoes. For the most you are standing around at the booth, speaking with your colleagues and with trade show visitors to the booth. Samples have to be watched to be sure that they are easily reached by booth visitors and that plenty of samples are always available. In the case of the Food & Hotel Asia Show, it is spread across about 10-12 enormous exhibition halls, each measuring tens of thousands of square feet, with many dozens of exhibitors, demonstrating with samples of a huge variety of food and beverage products. In order to see and visit as much of the trade show halls as possible requires literally miles and miles of walking on thinly carpeted concrete floors. At the booth, one is standing around or sitting on marginally comfortable stool-like chairs with no back. The exhibition halls are serviced with air conditioning, but you often must be standing or sitting in exactly the right spot in order to receive any benefit from the A/C. With the show floors open from 9:00am – 6:00pm it makes for a very long day.
On the other hand, it can be a fascinating experience. The best description I can offer is that it is like walking through a giant, multi-chambered cornucopia filled with every type of food and beverage imaginable from all over the world in booth after booth after booth. In many, if not most cases, samples of the products are offered for tasting, making walking the show floor something like a continuous human grazing experience, without account of eating any particular food in any particular order based on time of day or typical meal time for any specific food. Dessert items can be tried before anything like a protein or main course vegetable or accompaniment. Snack items can be tasted at any time at all: cookies, cakes, ice cream, candies, popcorn, chips, and confections of all sorts. Conversations with exhibitors occur very often and greatly add to the phantasmagorical nature of the experience. Stopping for any particular meal makes no sense at all because you’re actually never really hungry as a result of the continuous grazing aisle after aisle after aisle.
It’s a crazy, wonderful, exhausting, physically demanding, stomach filling (and churning) experience. Our day at the show ended about half and hour early to allow us to travel to an event sponsored by the US Dairy Export Council and various Dairy organizations, including our own Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. The 40-minute drive got us to the venue a bit early and the event at 6:30pm. It consisted of several speeches and more cheese and food tasting, plus wine and beer and water and juice and descriptions of the many varieties of American produced cheeses (there are more than 600 of these). There was networking with other exhibitors and with friends and colleagues met at other trade shows at other times and often held in other countries. After once again filling up with one more unneeded food grazing opportunity, we returned to our hotel just after 8:00pm, ending a more than 13-hour day.
The ever-present email monster and other miscellaneous office and personal messages awaited, together with this, now concluded edition of the 2018 Singapore Trade Show blog.
Barry Horowitz, former-Chair of the Export Council of Oregon, has taught and written on International Supply Chain Management, Logistics, Transportation and Trade topics for more than 30 years. He is currently working with the Port of Portland and other Oregon traded sector agencies to develop international trade strategies and programs.
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