More than three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, life has returned to (mostly) normal. As we reflect on all that has happened, almost everyone has a story about the moment they realized how consequential the pandemic would be.
For many in the construction industry, that moment occurred at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020. For my colleagues and I, it was during Sage’s launch party for Sage Intacct Construction, during which we learned that the 2019-20 NBA season had been suspended. Rumblings about canceled flights, international travel bans, and local COVID-19 outbreaks soon followed. The show ended up closing a day early, as attendees scrambled to get home, unable to fathom what the future held.
It's hard not to think about the 2020 event with CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023 just around the corner, running from March 14-18 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. While the industry returned to in-person tradeshows and events last year, CONEXPO is a behemoth — known as the largest construction tradeshow in North America.
With so many exhibitors and sessions, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. Here are a few tips to help ensure you make the most of your time at CONEXPO.
With a show this large, it is critical to plan ahead. Think about your motivations for attending. Do you need new equipment or technology solutions? Are you looking to network with industry peers? Do you want to learn more about industry trends and best practices?
Once you’ve determined what you hope to get out of CONEXPO, visit the website and check out the list of exhibitors and educational sessions. With more than 1,800 exhibitors and 175 education sessions, you’ll need to make a list of your top priorities and create a schedule.
It will be hard to keep a tight schedule so don’t overpack your days. Keep it flexible and start with the most important items on your list. If others from your company are attending, then coordinate with them and decide if you want to divide and conquer. If you’re still unsure about where you want to focus your time, three areas to consider are learning, technology, and networking.
Take Advantage of Learning Opportunities
CONEXPO offers great learning opportunities with a variety of panels and sessions that cover timely industry topics and trends. The session catalog can be organized by track, such as Business Best Practices, Sustainability, or Technology Solutions, or sorted by session date or speaker. CFMA is hosting a number of sessions that may be of interest, including:
- Data Driven Fleet Management Lessons Learned
- Cash Flow and Inequitable Payment Practices
- Digging Into Cybersecurity: Construction in the Digital Age
- Building Blocks of an Effective Equipment Budget
- Economic Update
- Benchmarking – How Does Your Company Compare?
- Succession Planning for the Construction Industry
- ESOPs – The Tax Advantaged Exit Strategy for Owners
- Scaling Up
- Contractual Risk Transfer and Subcontractor Insurance Management
Check Out the Latest Technologies
New technology was a hot topic at the 2020 show and is sure to be again this time around. There are three different education session tracks dedicated to technology: Emerging Technology, Tech Trek, and Technology Solutions, and some the latest technologies will even be on display in the exhibit halls. If your team has been thinking about implementing any new technologies, it is a great time to take a closer look at some of your options. If you’re close to making a decision, be sure to determine who has buying power to take advantage of show discounts that vendors may be offering.
Check the exhibitor list to see which vendors you’ve been considering are attending — there’s a good chance all of them will be there. Luckily, technology vendors are located together in the North Hall but it’s still a huge space, so be sure to look at the map and group them together by proximity to save time.
Come prepared with a list of questions for exhibitors. Think about your needs and what information will help you make a decision. Consider topics such as whether their products integrate with other solutions you are using, security features, cost, and support options. Also, take advantage of the in-booth demos to see the product in action.
If you have time, visit the vendors you already do business with as well. It’s a great opportunity to learn about new features and updates and ensure you’re making the most of your technology investments.
Connect With Fellow Industry Professionals
There’s no substitute for face time, and with more than 130,000 industry colleagues in attendance, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with peers. It’s also a great time to get to know others within your own organization. It’s not uncommon to have teams that are geographically dispersed, but even if you work at the same location, the event provides a good opportunity for team bonding outside of work hours.
If you’re attending solo, reach out to some of your industry contacts to see if any of them are attending and would like to meet up. Once you’re there, nearly every moment could present a networking opportunity, so be sure to bring plenty of business cards (or have your digital business card ready to share).
Outside of show hours, exhibitors host numerous parties and receptions so be on the lookout for pre-show emails or invites being handed out at booths. If there’s a specific show or restaurant in Las Vegas that you’ve been wanting to check out, you could also put together your own group outing. CFMA’s Connection Café is a great place to connect with other CFMA members who may be attending.
CONEXPO 2023 is a highly anticipated event that will offer countless opportunities to gain industry knowledge and connect with your peers. With so much to do and see, it is important to strategize before the show, but don’t stress too much about fitting everything in. Take time to relax and have fun.
Don’t forget — CFMA members also receive a discount when registering for CONEXPO by registering here!
I hope to see you there!