MODEX: A Visitor’s Guide
This article aims to help those visiting the MODEX trade show, which takes place March 28-31 at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center. It is written by Richard Howes, our VP marketing and communications, who remembers attending the inaugural staging of the event in February 2012.
Many members of our community will be heading to Atlanta to walk the miles of aisles at MODEX, organized by trade association, MHI. Some of them will likely circle back to our store once they have sampled the wares of many of our vendors on the show floor. The store itself has a booth (B2532) where we look forward to catching up with friends old and new.
MODEX will feature 850 exhibits, four keynotes, and 170 educational sessions covering all segments of the material handling, logistics, and transportation industry, from traditional, manual equipment to the latest digital, automated systems, and smart, connected supply chain technologies.
Marketing literature says you can discover the best the industry has to offer—all under one roof during the most important week for supply chain solutions this year. And that’s true, but it won’t all happen for you automatically. Your destiny is in your hands, as we’ll explore.
The extent to which Covid anxieties will impact the event, or not, remains to be seen. What is undoubted is that visitors will be under pressure to make every second count and report back to their companies with information and ideas that can fuel good decision making, enhance productivity, and boost safety. Everyone is too busy right now to go to trade shows just for a good time. Long gone are those days, even if we’ll all find ways to enjoy MODEX 2022 along the way.
Have a plan
Regardless of how long you’re there—some people will visit for half a day and others will be in the aisles and conferences all week—it’s important to plan ahead. Register now. Even a simple thing like when the show operates is important. You don’t want to be having breakfast in the hotel wondering when the doors open.
Make a note:
- Monday March 28—10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Tuesday March 29—10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Wednesday March 30—10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Thursday March 31—10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Have a good look at the event program within these times. Are there seminars, break-out sessions, networking events, etc. that you want to attend? Have a look at the on-floor talks and highlight the ones that might add value. It’s not a competition to see who can spend the longest in the hall or sit in the most presentations. It’s about making the time productive and useful. Someone who will only be at MODEX on Monday morning could achieve more than someone there for four full days if they plan accordingly.
In advance of traveling to Atlanta, look at the exhibitor list and make a note of who you want to see. There might be 10 exhibitors, that are all known to you, or 50 that aren’t. They might all be neatly lined up in one aisle, or more likely spread across the building. Make a little map that efficiently takes you from one exhibitor to the next. Take the face of a clock, for example. You would want to visit the 12 exhibitors clockwise or anticlockwise. Visiting 1, then 7, then 2, then 8, then 3, would result in wasted walking time. A heat map of a visitor’s footfall shouldn’t look like a spider’s web.
Did you know that MODEX is divided into five solution groups?:
- Manufacturing and assembly
- Information technology
- Fulfillment and delivery
- Transportation and logistics
- Emerging technologies
Having rigid meetings might create more problems than it solves but if there are a few people you must see, it’s a good idea to reach out in advance and ask them when they will be available. Like visitors, many exhibitor representatives will only be onsite for a day or two. It’s frustrating to call on a booth only to find that your contact left the night before.
Having a strategy avoids wasting time and enduring lots of meaningful conversations. It’s one thing to be civil and receptive, but quite another to spend a morning exchanging pleasantries with a vendor that you’re never going to buy anything from. MHI, like other trade show organizers, tries to bunch certain things together on the floor but it doesn’t always mean an exhibitor and their immediate neighbor will both be of interest or relevance.
Harness the hashtag: #MODEX2022
Social media and event hashtags aren’t reserved for exhibitors. Too few visitors use Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other platforms to raise their profile. This year, #MODEX2022 is the hashtag to use to network before, during, and after the event. It’s not too early to tell people you’re attending and start to engage with organizers, exhibitors, and speakers. It might be that you can have a conversation online now that’ll tell you if it’s worth making an in-person follow-up or not. Content has been building up at #MODEX2022 online for weeks—months, even—and there is some good, free information out there to digest.
Don't pack a suitcase
Rightly, MHI frowns upon suitcasing, which is the practice of selling from the aisles. There’s nothing wrong with exploring mutual opportunities but pitching up and trying to sell your wares or services to someone that has paid a serious amount of money to exhibit is morally wrong. Sadly, it is very common for people to attend trade shows to promote their own company or sell products and supposed solutions.
Trust me, it is infuriating when a company has spent valuable marketing budget on a trade show booth, staff, graphics, hotels, flights, and more, only for a visitor that has paid nothing, to expect their staff’s time to sell a service. I remember when I represented a start-up company at a show (albeit smaller than MODEX) that had spent what little cash available on some postcards and a couple of pop-up banners. We were thrilled when a smartly dressed man asked about our services, only to dump his bag on our table and proceed with a sales pitch about why we should be giving his company a referral fee to make introductions on our behalf. Nothing against his business model but there is a time and place. That wasn’t it.
There are certain hallmarks of good events—abundance of great exhibitors, world-class content, etc.—and MODEX has most of them. But it’ll only work for you if you strategize and then execute your plan. It really is a case of getting out what you put in.
And wear comfortable shoes!
Perhaps I’ll see you at Booth B2532.