Reduce the variables in your convention experience with the ISSA / INTERCLEAN Attendee Planning Formula. If you do it right, you can optimize the value of education, trade show “shopping” and industry networking.

Take a word of advice from your peers who are frequent attendees to ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America when they say: It’s bigger than you expect and you need more time and more people than you realize to get the most out of this event.

That’s why ISSA has created this handy Attendee Planning Formula to help you estimate the right amount of time and people needed to maximize your event ROI.

The Formula
Time or People Needed to Reach Your Event Goals = [(Event Participation Time) + (Set Meetings Time) + (Mobility Time) + (Unplanned Meetings Time)] / Total Available Event Time 

Step 1: Event Participation Time
There are two basic event types at the show: seminars and networking. To calculate event participation time, simply add the number of hours the scheduled events encompass (e.g., one-hour seminar, one-hour networking lunch, and 45-minute seminar = 2.75 hours). Luckily, if your goal is education and exhibitor visits, the first day of the event provides solid seminar times that don’t overlap the exhibit hours.

Step 2: Set Meetings Time
Based on industry studies, the average visit to an exhibitor’s booth is seven minutes  and the average ISSA/INTERCLEAN attendee bookmarks about 33 exhibitors to visit during the show in the online directory. Of these booth visits, some require more involved discussions, which may last 15-20 minutes, and others are more detailed meetings that can range from 30 minutes to an hour.

To calculate your planned meeting time, add up the number of exhibitors you plan to stop by quickly at seven minutes each, those with questions you specifically want answered at 20 minutes, and then add in any scheduled meetings for their specific times. For example, let’s say there are 25 exhibitors you want to see for seven minutes; five you want to visit for 20 minutes; and you have three, 30-minute meetings scheduled. This means you will need six hours to see these 33 exhibitors (out of more than 650 exhibitors).

Step 3: Mobility Time
Just when you thought maybe you could hit all the companies you need in one exhibit day, you need to remember to calculate your mobility time. This is the time between meetings, which includes traveling between booths, asking for directions, hitting the restroom, picking up your badge at registration, and grabbing a bite to eat. The average time it takes to travel between exhibitors or to a specific destination in a 250,000-square-foot ISSA/INTERCLEAN show is about five minutes. So if you plan to visit 33 exhibitors at five minutes travel time each, plus one hour for lunch, in just the first two days of the exhibition, plus registration/restroom/direction stops (which we’ll conservatively estimate at one hour total), suddenly you fill another 5.75 hours of your show time.

Step 4: Unscheduled Meetings
But you still aren’t done until you factor in the last-minute stops you make at an event, which include visiting an unexpected—but irresistible—exhibitor; running into a friend, customer, or supplier; or coming across a show-floor demonstration or seminar that catches your eye. These are usually the “missed opportunities”—that you don’t want to miss.

If your day is so packed that you can’t see something of interest, it’s a wasted opportunity. The same is true for the company you planned to talk to—but never saw—because someone you met along the way ate into your time. To calculate this number, consider that if you make just eight unplanned seven-minute stops and then you run into only five people you know (again for seven minutes), that’s 1.5 hours right there. 

People who prefer to walk every aisle of an event to quickly see what’s new before honing in on specific exhibitors also need to factor in the time it takes to do so. Consider that the average adult walks at a pace of about five feet per second when they are moving in a straight and unobstructed line.  Even at that brisk pace on the busy ISSA/INTERCLEAN show floor, it would take one person well over 1.5 hours to walk every aisle within the 250,000 square feet of exhibitors without stopping.

Step 5: Total Available Event Time
Once you realize how quickly time adds up at ISSA/INTERCLEAN, you realize why there is the final day to wrap up your appointments. That’s why you need to determine how long it will take to accomplish what you’ve set as your goals before you arrive and consider bringing someone along to get more out of the week.
The total of the example above is 2.75 hours for events (Step 1), six hours for meeting time (Step 2), 5.75 hours of mobility time (Step 3), and 1.5 hours for unplanned meetings (Step 4) for a total of 16 hours.

ISSA/INTERCLEAN provides 20 hours of exhibition time  (eight on the first day, eight on the second, and four on the final day). Therefore, most people’s combination of meeting and mobility time can’t fall into a single exhibit day, especially given the unplanned meetings factor.

In our example above, an average attendee would need 13.25 hours just to visit 5 percent of ISSA/INTERCLEAN’s 650 exhibitors, which would require the attendee to start as soon as the doors open the first and second day of ISSA/INTERCLEAN and not leave the hall before it closes both days. And the almost three additional hours of events the attendee chose to attend could not overlap with these trade show hours.

ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America is a once-a-year opportunity to learn, experience new products, and meet with customers and suppliers. Plan your time to make the most of it!

Dianna Steinbach is the Director of Industry Outreach for ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association. She has conducted seminars and webinars for ISSA in the U.S., Africa and Europe.

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