Having recently returned from IMATS New York, I wanted to give a few quick takeaways for those of you thinking of attending the upcoming IMATS LA or The Makeup Show in NYC, both in May. Also, to clarify, IMATS stands for International Makeup-Artist Trade Show. Despite the name, this show is open to the public. The benefit of a trade show is direct exposure to makeup brands at a discount (running around 25% on average for the public and higher for professionals). I believe IMATS will have separate hours for professionals in LA, which I think is a good idea.
1.) Research the brands that will be featured ahead of time. IMATS directly linked each brand's webpage, so it was easy to go on to the page ahead of time. The benefit of this is you can figure out what items you want and what would be beneficial to have in bulk. Just because of the crowd, it was hard at the IMATS NY event to spend any time at the booths looking at the items and getting familiar with them. Create a wishlist on your phone and have it ready.
2.) Go early: IMATS opened at 10 a.m., and in hindsight, I should've been at the door at 9:58. By going early, the odds are much better you'll get first dibs on items and beat the crowd. I was going upstairs to the showroom at noon and saw many people coming down with full bags. They were smiling for a reason. The other benefit is many of the featured speakers go on in the afternoon, which means you can spend your afternoon attending the events.
3.) Plan your day: Rather than seeing a trade show as a random series of tables and events, map out your day a little. IMATS also gives information on featured speakers and events. It really stunk to know after-the-fact that some of the cast of Saturday Night Live had been there and I missed the show.
For the trade show sponsors and vendors:
1.) This is your time to shine: I had no familiarity with Obsessive-Compulsive Cosmetics prior to IMATS. However, that brand was on its game in NYC. They had the most efficiently run table and the quickest system for processing purchases (handheld card readers and e-mailed receipts - so smart!). They were ready for business, and it left a good impression.
2.) For a trade show sponsor, it's best to separate the wheat from the chaff a little: There was so much haggling at one table over who was a professional and who wasn't that it caused a huge backup in the line. Change the wristband color or something to save time and hassle for the vendors. In so many cases, I saw people say, "I'm a makeup artist," then have zero information to show for it. It also puts excessive pressure on those working the vendor booths to have to make a quick decision and potentially have to answer for it if someone isn't happy.