One of my friends here in Tokyo asked me about attending the upcoming International Robot Exhibition 2012 (IREX2012). He wanted to know which would be the best day for him to take in the show, see the robots, and talk to the exhibitors.
In general, Japanese trade shows and exhibitions are very similar to those held in the US, Europe, and other parts of the world. They follow the same pattern, with some unique local differences. It’s particularly important to understand, especially if you can only attend for one day or even one afternoon.
Here’s my advice…
These comments specifically reference IREX2012, but the same general advice applies to any industry trade show here. IREX2012 is a four day show and runs from Wednesday through Saturday. The ‘best day’ depends on your purpose in attending.
Of course, the press will concentrate on the first day to try and grab the hottest stories and news releases. They will have mapped out the best targets and have often prearranged interview slots. Exhibitors will focus on the big industry media players and won’t have time, or interest, on the first morning to talk to you unless you confirmed an appointment in advance. You should be prepared to get bumped out of the way if someone from one of the big traffic websites or magazines shows up. It’s not that the exhibitors don’t love you. They do, but they also know which side their bread is buttered on.
Thursday and Friday are about equal in priority and present a good opportunity to get 1:1 time with some of the exhibitors, if that’s your thing. If you want to stage photos/videos/interviews and don’t care about being the first out with the news, then either Thursday or Friday would work well.
Early mornings work better than late afternoons. A lot of the show visitors arrive around 1 or 2 pm – salarymen who don’t want to come earlier in the day because they would have to go back to the office after the show. By arriving mid-afternoon they can see the show then go out drinking afterwards without worrying about their boss complaining.
Saturday is usually the big ‘public’ day with bigger crowds. Any special events, like robot competitions, are typically staged on Saturday to draw people.
On the other hand, by mid-afternoon on Saturday most of the exhibitors are totally exhausted and ready to bail. Engaging them in conversation or interviews can be a real challenge when they would much rather be packed up and headed either home or to the local izakaya.