Concision goes to Oktoberfest: Six tips on exhibiting at a trade show

Peter HoltScience and technology, SMEs

What do you think of when you hear Oktoberfest? Beer, hearty street food, great company, speaking German? How about business networking with engineering and manufacturing companies? Durham Oktoberfest had all these – and it was practically on our doorstep.

This was the tenth Oktoberfest, and the biggest yet. We were delighted to join 112 other exhibitors and 1,000 attendees in the packed Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe. We were kept busy with a constant stream of people popping into our stall for a friendly chat. (We did still find the time to meet other interesting companies and check out their products!)

As we’ve reflected on our Oktoberfest experience, here are a few thoughts on how to make the most of an event like this:

Have a clear aim. Decide what you want to get out of it. Look at the list of attendees if you are given one. Whom do you want to meet? What would you like to talk to them about?

Have a clear message. Practise explaining what your company does in as few words as possible. Keep it short. Being able to explain what you offer simply and directly (without being pushy) will be invaluable when meeting new contacts and potential customers.

Three’s a breeze. Having three of us at the event worked really well. There was always someone available on our stand, and we could visit other stands and catch up on other work if necessary.

Be friendly. This should speak for itself. You want to remembered for the right reasons – and being helpful and friendly costs nothing.

Don’t forget follow-up. Events like Oktoberfest are great for meeting people, but the follow-up afterwards is just as important. Why not make a quick note after each chat as a reminder of what was discussed?

Bring something to give away. Having something useful to give away is a good icebreaker. It gives someone a reason to approach your stand, and is an enduring reminder of your company. The humble pen is a good solid staple, but something creative that fits with what your offer is even better.

It might not be as glamorous as its namesake in Munich, but it’s still lots of fun – and definitely more business oriented. If you didn’t manage to catch us at the Durham Oktoberfest, don’t wait until next October. We’d love to chat.

About the Author
Peter Holt

Peter Holt


Peter previously studied and worked as an earth scientist. Like any good scientist, he appreciates brevity and simplicity. He enjoys making tricky concepts easy to understand, a skill he learnt while teaching first year geology. (Apparently, instruction in geology is not always appreciated - as Peter discovered on honeymoon!) Growing up in Nepal gave him a love for communicating across cultures. Peter enjoys travelling, is an avid cyclist, and relishes a geeky board game.