First-time exhibitor here! We'll be in the Entrepreneur Avenue at booth 2858 (Broken Dice).
What are things that we, as first-timers, should be aware of? Like, how many business cards should we bring (500, 1000, etc.)? Any advice is appreciated!
I can't speak for exhibitors, but some 60,000 people will wander the hall at some point in the 4 days. If 1 in 50 people stop by your booth, that's over 1,000 cards. If I was exhibiting (a possibility for next year), I'd plan for more. Business cards can be expensive to print; maybe just one-sheet flyers might be a better option. If you are going to attend other Cons, you can leave any reference to Gen Con off them so you can reuse.
BTW, your Nuadan Chronicles games looks interesting. Was planning to stop by and take a look if I get a chance. Good luck with the booth!
Bring Water! Talking to 1000s of people can really 'tap' you out!
Most exhibitors use bed sheets to cover their tables. They are easy to apply and save on set up from day to day. Be sure to tuck in your booth at night!
Good luck Adelphos, we are almost neighbors! We will be at 2348, stop by for a drink!
_AJ_ Universal Horizons
You'll probably only need a couple hundred, but in my experience printing 1000 is only 20-25% more than printing 500.
In addition to water, we bring snacks because sometimes your booth is busy for a while.
Don't forget to order electrical if you need it, but you can get it at the con. They are pretty quick to activate it.
You should be able to use your phone to run credit cards. On verizon, we've never had issues.
If you get to the marshalling yard after 2-3pm on Wednesday to set up, you may have to wait before you are allowed to the loading docks. This is the issue I hate most as I like to make sure I have enough time. My first year we skipped the marshalling yard and just brought everything in on 2 trips with a dolly. It can be hot on setup day in the hall (AC isn't on), so plan on taking a shower as soon as you're done.
Unless you've got a big crew, plan on using the extra hour before open each day to scope out the exhibit hall for yourself. Near opening, most people will take purchases so you can run back to the booths that have something interesting in the 10-15 minutes before opening. Otherwise run to the booths you need to during the day.
Padded flooring will help your feet. Of course, sit as much as you reasonably can while still being inviting.
If you're a new company, probably having a freebie is a good idea. The coupon book and Cheese Weasel can drive this, but if it is too late for both of those (I know it is for the coupon, I think Cheese Weasel too) just having something like "Would you like a free map of a game world?" or "would you like a free 1-page game system summary" or something might help. (Just stay in your booth and probably wait to see if people are checking it out a bit first. Many people are flying by and don't want to be bothered, but some are looking at each booth to see what catches their eye and are open to hearing a pitch.)
My .02. Feel free to ask for more.
If you are doing demos, keep them short or teach your demonstrators to include non-players when explaining the game! Nothing is worse than being interested in a game and having to wait for an hour before you can demo it and not knowing what's going on.
I have worked a booth a few times with first timers (about 3 years ago was the most recent).
I recommend the floor padding if you can get it. It helps.
Try not to crowd your booth with too much stuff if you are planning on having an "open" floor plan for people to move around in. The 3 years ago I worked I felt that was an issue (being able to move people in, out, and around).
If you are doing game demos and it gets busy, do start doing "quick games" or short demos so as to keep people coming in. If people have to come back for a demo hours later because each one is long, they might not come back at all.
Some kind of freebie is a good way to get people to look at your booth (a pin, some dice, sticker, candy, whatever).
Something to catch the eye is good (a cool sculpture from your game, a picture, something that makes people say "wow that looks awesome, I want to see what that is about).
Plan rotations and bathroom times if possible. It can get busy and you do not want to leave one person to handle a huge crowd or leave your booth unattended.
And definitely water, food, snacks, small trash can, maybe paper for people to write things down.
I'm not an exhibitor but I do have this to share from watching a new exhibitor a few years back. It also applies to many booths that I have seen.
Don't be discouraged. There is a lot for us to take in as we wander that massive hall and it is true that those in the back can get significantly less attention by the time we work our way back there. Our ability to focus on any one booth drops from over-stimulation the moment we start through the doors. Cheese Weasel and the Coupon Book may be also what we are concentrating on to guide us in the early rushes. We may be also skimming the booths we pass, deciding on sight if there is something of our gaming interest there. Ex. I'm not that much into RPGs or fez's or zombies so my eye slides over booths that mainly promote such. I'm just not the customer for you right now until I go looking for my friends' interests.
Still, many of us want to see everything and realize we have a few days to do it in. As others have said, finding something to pull our attention but not consume our time is welcome, and it is true for me that I respond better to such greased wheels of a booth between relatively 'plain' ones. What was the booth next to the one with the wheel to spin? Not sure, eyes were elsewhere, I'll look more slowly next time through.
Anyway, as I said, there will be traffic, hopefully you can encourage us in, but we might just pass by at first for any number of reasons of the moment.
Welcome to the marketplace.
Thanks for all the advice! Can't wait to see everyone! We're about to head over to set up right now actually :)
Final question: Is there like a "must-attend" networking event or place to meet other game developers, designers and writers?