Flights and sleepless nights

Flights and sleepless nights – a week in the life of a trade fair attendee

Monday – 03:30 AM

It is early morning on a Monday and you struggle to open your eyes as your alarm on your phone goes off. You are tired and grumpy… and you think to yourself when was the last time you woke up this early? It must have been when your son was just 2 years old. No one should wake up at this awful hour. Yet you do… because you have a flight waiting for you at 6 AM to take you across the globe for yet another trade fair.

You take your bag and hop in a taxi, as you debate whether to have breakfast on the plane or at the airport. The airport wins. It is a much safer choice, you think to yourself. You reach the airport, finish your eggs benedict, that somehow feels less satisfying than it has in the past, and board the plane.

The flight is as tedious as ever, but you are determined to get some work done so you open your laptop. You see that you have forgotten to set up your out of office reply and more work has come your way. You quickly jot down the automated message, so your customers know that you will not be able to reply to them this week.

You arrive at your location, it is evening already. The time difference & flights are killing your productivity and energy. You decide to have an early night… past experience has taught you that the first day of the trade fair is key.

Tuesday – 06:00 AM

You wake up to your alarm in your hotel bed. Your internal clock is very off but today is the day!

You pour down a double espresso enhanced cappuccino as you have breakfast in the hotel. By 07:30 AM you are ready to leave. You know the commute takes 30 minutes and you need a bit of time to ensure your booth is set up before the show starts at 09:00.

You look over your booth and everything seems in order. You take a stroll through the trade fair hall and glance over other exhibitors’ booths. You know you are going to war!

You have learned that trade fairs are a zero-sum game and you are competing with every one of these exhibitors for the attendees’ attention. You think through some of your opening lines that you have rehearsed for the last 2 weeks and realize… you are ready!

The day passes in a haze of new faces but same conversations. You are very pleased as you have secured quite a few warm leads. You make a note in your diary to follow up in the evening, after drinks.

You attend the evening festivities to get to know the people here. This is the key, you tell yourself, to get to know as many people as possible.

A few hours pass… and a few drinks and you catch yourself thinking that instead of following up with the warm leads today, you will do it tomorrow. You call your family instead and briefly talk about your day.

After the call, the drinking resumes. Evening turns into night that later turns into your hotel bed. You are dead tired.

Wednesday – 07:00 AM

You wake up with a headache… you know this specific headache. It is the day 2 of trade fair headache. Or perhaps it’s day 3? Afterall you started your journey already on Monday.

After breakfast you go directly to the trade fair to complete the follow up emails of yesterday. You look around and see that the majority of the people are struggling with a similar headache to you. They are all also typing furiously on their laptops.

Another day passes in a haze of new faces but same conversations. It is a recurring pattern here. Your evening festivities go exactly as they went last night, leaving you dead tired as you fall into your hotel bed.

Thursday – 07:00 AM

The headache is worse today than yesterday. I must be getting ill you think to yourself. But like the days prior, you make your way to the trade fair hall. There, you send your yesterday’s follow up emails like you promised.

You know that today the war ends! Just one more day of effort and then you are off. You also remember that the trade fair hosts have a fun evening planned for all of the exhibitors.

Today goes just like the previous two days and you end up in your hotel bed at a very late hour. You think to yourself that you are not meant for this. There must be a better way! With that thought… you fall asleep.

Friday – 09:00 AM

You wake up relieved with a familiar feeling in the head. But you are happy. You get to go home! Back to your loved ones.

The flight leaves already at noon. During your flight you look back at your trade fair week. 4 days, 4 sleepless nights, thousands of kilometres travelled for 100 warm leads. You are happy about the leads.

You know that the leads still require 3 calls to close. Without the trade fair, they require 4 or maybe even 5. Thus, the majority of the work is still to be done, but you have spent a week doing this.

You look over your incoming e-mail and you see that your existing clients have been looking for you. Next week is going to be a big one to make up for this lost one.

As a takeaway, you agree with yourself that taking part of this trade fair every year is definitely worth it. But you tell yourself that if you didn’t have to be physically here after that would be amazing.

You could be fresh, with your family and keep easily on top of the leads found in the evening. You imagine the additional business you could generate. The plane lands and you hop in a taxi to go home.

As you are about to put your keys to your front door you catch yourself wondering. Perhaps one day, the digital world will disrupt trade fairs too, so I can take part and benefit nearly as much from them while not leaving my office.

What a day it will be!

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