Tips, Tricks and Tools to Do the Job
By Rebecca Reid, managing editor
With 2,000 companies exhibiting on more than one million square feet of space, getting what you need out of the 2006 National Plastics Exhibition (NPE 2006) without a coherent plan has about as much c...
With 2,000 companies exhibiting on more than one million square feet of space, getting what you need out of the 2006 National Plastics Exhibition (NPE 2006) without a coherent plan has about as much chance for success as Wile E. Coyote had of catching the Road Runner.
As such, Canadians attending the show should adopt Boy Scouts of America motto: “Be prepared.” Carefully organizing transportation and hotels, plus determining where to go and what to see, and preparing for problems — no matter how unlikely — is the only way to get to NPE 2006, get what you need and get home.
NPE 2006 is projected to be the most diverse ever since the show’s inception in 1946. Twenty-seven per cent of exhibitors are newcomers to NPE, according to Walt Bishop, The Society of the Plastics Industry’s (SPI’s) vice-president in charge of trade shows. This year’s show also includes new focuses on bioplastics and emerging technologies, drastically increasing the information you need to absorb.
LIGHTEN UP AND TAKE A BREAK
But don’t jam your schedule with too many formal events; make time for networking and for the long hikes between McCormick Place’s different buildings.
So wear comfortable shoes and use a comfortable bag that won’t strain your back. Unless you’re conducting a formal business meeting, leave the briefcase at the hotel and opt for a backpack. Or store it in a Public Locker — located on level 2 (West Corridor) of the Lakeside Center and level 1 of the South Building.
And after a day of strenuous meetings and fighting the crowds, drop by the Massage Break Lounge on level 2.5 of the Grand Concourse. It offers massage and upper bodywork right on-site; sessions run between 10 and 30 minutes.
While some hotels are close to McCormick place, others provide easy access to Chicago’s downtown core, and its famous shopping district, the Magnificent Mile — ideal for occupying attendees wives (and husbands) while you’re visiting the show.
Hotels can be searched on the site by price, by amenities (such as a health club or spa), or by location. Plus, cancellations and changes can also be conducted online
Web-savvy folks will be heartened to learn that the majority of planning for NPE 2006 can be accomplished over the Internet.
Registering for the event online takes only minutes, and registration is free for visitors from outside the U.S. up until June 19. If you forget, expect to shell out US$90 at the door.
And it should also be easier than ever for attendees to organize their time at NPE 2006 by using a free Web-based event planning service dubbed myNPE.
“MyNPE lets any registrant…take advantage of the vast treasury of information that has been fed into the system by tens of thousands of NPE 2006 participants,” SPI’s Bishop said. “The myNPE software searches this enormous database and sends each registrant contact information that enables him or her…to ‘pre-meet’ with the suppliers, customers, and professional peers who will participate in NPE 2006.”
Registrants for NPE are provided with a username and password enabling them to access their MyNPE account. When first visiting NPE 2006, users can fill out a survey about the types of equipment, materials, workshops, people, and events they are interested in.
This can save them from the onerous task of scouring the NPE 2006 Web site and program guides for information as the My Event Plan feature uses this information to aggregate a list of events and seminars related to your interests. Show-goers can then devise a list of seminars, companies and people relevant to their firms to maximize their time at the show. The list is updated with new events and details each week.
And because it’s Web-based, myNPE can be accessed from any computer in any location through an Internet browser, meaning it’s easy to access your schedule when in Chicago.
At NPE 2006 Product Locator kiosks will be peppered throughout all the exhibit halls and attendees can use these to view and print their event plans with floor maps detailing the best route to their next meeting.
McCormick place also has a business centre located in each building; the main business centre is location on level 2.5 of the Grand Concourse in the retail area and offers Wi-Fi access in the Food Court and Starbucks on level 2.5, and the fourth and fifth floor common areas.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Companies sending multiple employees can better ensure they get better coverage by taking a tactical approach to the show.
Form a buying group, which essentially means allocating each employee specific tasks or technologies to pursue at the show.
Attendees also have the option of joining the Canadian trade delegation to NPE 2006, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program. This program is comprised of a network over 70 organizations worldwide offering services specifically for professionals in the plastics and rubber industries.
GETTING AN EDUCATION
While at NPE 2006, attendees can sit in on numerous free educational seminars.
The session for Monday June 19 explores the future of plastics, while Tuesday June 20 is focused around global and domestic competition. On Wednesday June 21, attendees can attend seminars about new technology and innovation, and then explore workforce development on Thursday June 22. Finally, Friday June 23 offers seminars appealing to visiting students.
The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) will offer its own educational program, however the deadline for advanced registration is May 19. Be aware, though, that the SPE seminars can cost up to almost US$700 for SPE members and over US$1,000 for non-members, and that the SPE will only issue refunds up to May 19.
KEEPING CREDIT CARD INFORMATION SAFE ONLINE
Although credit card transactions over the NPE 2006 Web site are protected using Secure Socket Layer encryption and Private Communication Technology, the technology is not foolproof. To decrease chances of your information being stolen make sure:
1. Your antivirus software is up-to-date as well as the detection files.
3. The most recent security updates for your operating system and Web browser have been downloaded.
4. Your computer has been scanned for spyware. Free tools such as Microsoft’s Anti-Spyware program, Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy are all available from www.download.com.
Services at McCormick Place
* Restaurants/Food Service Facilities — Full service bars, cafes and restaurants are located throughout the entire complex.
* ATM Machines — cash machines are located in each building — on level 2.5 of the Grand Concourse retail area; in the lobby on level 2 of the North Building; and in the lobby on level 2 of the Lakeside Center.
* Information — Building information is available from our Information desks which are conveniently located in each building.
* First Aid Station — McCormick Place provides wheelchair-accessible first aid stations in each building.
* Parking — Events in Lakeside Center and Arie Crown Theater designate Lot C as the primary parking location, while events in the North and South Buildings designate Lot A garage as the primary parking location. Lot C is an underground garage with 1,900 parking spaces and is located on Ft. Dearborn Dr., adjacent to the Lakeside Center. Lot A is a six level garage with an adjacent surface lot and is located directly across from the Grand Concourse/Gate 4. Covered walkways from Lot A lead directly into McCormick Place and the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel.
Clearing U.S. customs is becoming increasingly difficult,
and although Canadians still aren’t formally required to carry a passport until Dec. 31, 2006 to enter the U.S., showing a valid passport goes a long way to soothe the suspicious nature of a U.S. customs officer.
Plus, keep in mind that short term business travelers to the U.S. – even Canadians – should carry detailed information about the details of their visit. Keep documents like a show pamphlet, and proof of registration handy in case customs officials ask for more information.
Most importantly stay calm and be nice. If you don’t have a valid passport and are traveling using other documents like birth certificates, Canadian Citizenship cards and driver’s licenses, be prepared for more questions.
GETTING AROUND CHICAGO
Getting to your hotel from the airport is easily accomplished through public transit as well as taxis.
Chicago’s transit system offers flat-rate passes for visitors from one to five days. One day visitor passes cost US$5, two-day passes cost US$9, three-day passes cost US$12 and five-day passes cost US$18.
Taxi fares from Chicago O’Hare cost about US$30 to US$35, for one passenger. Each additional passenger adds US$1 to the overall cost and be prepared to pay any tolls. Fares from Midway Airport should run about US$20 to US$25 to downtown.
Chicago O’Hare Airport: www.ohare.com; 800-832-6352.
Chicago Transit Authority: www.transitchicago.com; 888-YOUR-CTA
McCormick Place (Chicago, Ill.); www.mccormickplace.com; 312-791-7000
National Plastics Exhibition 2006 (NPE 2006): www.npe.org;
– Canadian Trade Delegation to NPE 2006: Madellon C. Lopes; (Toronto, Ont.); www.npe.org/delegationsmadellon.lopes @mail.doc.gov; 416-595-5412, ext. 227
– Hotel Reservations: Expovision (Falls Church, Va.); 703.205.2975; firstname.lastname@example.org
– Registration: ExpoExchange (Frederick, Md.); 866.229.2386; email@example.com
Passport Canada (locations across Canada); www.ppt.gc.ca; 800 567-6868
The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. (Washington, DC); 800.SPI.0015; www.plasticsindustry.org
U.S. Customs and Border Protection: www.cbp.gov; (202) 354-1000