Sorry it took me so long to get to writing Day 3’s blog. It was a long night on Saturday (the last day of the show). PRI representatives forewarn all exhibitors that it could take as many as four hours after the 5 p.m. close of the show to return all crates in order for exhibitors to pack up their displays. Well, we at Honda Racing/HPD received our crates at 8:30 p.m. EST, a mere 3½ hours after the close of the show. I guess we shouldn’t complain; it could have taken another 30 minutes!
We passed the time by tearing down the display and prepping everything as much as we could, prior to packing it all up. We ordered pizza, ate and waited. While waiting, I decided to check out some what-I-thought-were abandoned booths (Many people leave the convention center for a few hours to go eat until their crates are returned). As I approached a neighboring booth and was about to enter its meeting room to compare it to ours, I found a handful of shoeless men sleeping on the floor. Luckily, I discovered these exhausted exhibitors prior to actually entering their area, but boy, would I have been a surprise to them! I hope they got some rest, because they were still packing up when we left the convention center at 9:30 p.m.
The last day of the PRI show brought us much the same as the two prior days, just less of it. There were fewer people, fewer giveaways and less energy. By the end of these trade shows, the majority of the exhibitors look like they’ve been beaten with sticks and left on the curb. Toward the end of the show, other exhibitors stop by and comment that we look as tired as they feel. If I weren’t so tired and they weren’t so correct in their assumptions, I might think they were telling me my appearance was not so stellar. However, seeing how tired I truly was, I decided to let it slide this time.
We managed to hand out every last spark-plug keychain and Honda Racing/HPD National Speedway Directory that we brought to the show. The keychains ran out a couple hours into the last day and left people asking us for more throughout the remaining hours. Meanwhile, there were four directories left as the last hour of the show began. It became a sport for me to see if I could hand them out. On the surface, this seemed like an easily reachable goal, based on the love of trade-show attendees for all that is free. However, by the show’s final hour, the only people walking by are other exhibitors getting ready to pack up. The odds of giving away the last four books were looking pretty long. I only needed to get rid of one book every 15 minutes, but I wasn’t so sure that was going to happen. Suddenly, I saw a group of four men walking by and I shouted out, “Would you like a book listing all the racetracks in the US and Canada?” Unfortunately, I was rejected and they kept on walking. Fifteen or so minutes passed, and we still had all 4 books. There went my average. Five minutes later, two twenty-something men came by, and each was thrilled to take a copy. Two down, two more to go…
Within minutes, another gentleman approached our booth, and another book disappeared. Now, there was one last lonesome book on the podium, and there was no way just one book was getting shipped back to HPD. Approximately 30 seconds later another gentleman approached and began talking to us. I was determined not to allow him to walk away without his very own copy of the Honda Performance/HPD National Speedway Directory. As he finished talking and began to back away from the podium in anticipation of leaving, I reached out and offered the prestigious last copy. His eyes lit up (as did mine, to tell you the truth) and he happily accepted. Success! We did it! All 484 directories given away and on their way to homes across the world. (Yes, the world. There was definitely an international presence at PRI.) I told you these giveaways are a sport; or, more accurately, a marathon! (Hey, it is the closest I will ever get to participating in one.)
So, as the last crate was closed and we gathered up our belongings to march our sweaty, tired bodies back to the hotel (they turn off the air conditioning to the convention center once the show is over), we reflected on our first year of trade-show presence. Most of us were green to the whole trade-show experience at the beginning, but by the end of PRI, we had learned some very valuable lessons. Wear comfortable shoes; take part in preventative maintenance (i.e. wear band-aids and extra-thick socks); come prepared with anti-bacterial hand sanitizer; enjoy every “good ole days” story any racer had to offer; and take in all of the visual stimulation trade-shows are famous for, because it will be a few months before the next race season kicks off and hey, you need something to hold you over.
I have had a great time getting my feet wet in what is certainly a world of its own … the trade show. I never would have thought that automotive/motorsport trade-shows were in my future, but somehow, it was meant to be. Thus far, I have been to two shows in two months and run into two people from high school that I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years. The trade show stars must be aligned and perhaps there is more in store for me in the future. As for now, all I know for sure is that HPD and the Honda Racing/HPD group have barely reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of public appearances. We have a lot planned for 2010, but you have to stay tuned to find out all the details. Until next time… Jenn, OUT!