Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Unofficial Guide to Maximizing Your EPIC Experience

For those of you who aren't familiar with it, EPIC* is a trade show that takes place each year in Vancouver and focuses on Ethical Progressive Intelligent Consumers. This is a trade show that is fully accessible to the public.  Now, when I say "trade show" you may get an image in your mind of boring men dressed up in suits standing next to tables with tri-fold presentation boards on them... I promise you, EPIC is nothing like this.  Sure, EPIC takes place in the Vancouver Convention Centre, and yeah, there are a few suits and tables kicking around, but EPIC gives off more of a festival feel than that of a boring old trade show.  At times you may even think you are attending a party!

I've been attending EPIC since it began 6 years ago and one of the most amazing things about it is that it literally improves every year.  Normally there is a great amount of variation in quality between trade shows and festivals from year to year, but EPIC has consistently outdone itself.  Each year I show up thinking "wow last year was great, this year can't possibly be as good" and I'm always wrong; it always ends up BETTER than the previous year.  Not a single detail is missed at EPIC, from volunteers standing by the recycling stations to make sure you don't make excess waste to making sure the exhibitors are using biodegradable cutlery for their samples.  EPIC is entirely true to itself and its goal to help make the world a more sustainable place to live. 

Now that I've sold you on the idea, I want to make sure you not only attend, but that you maximize your attendance.   I've outlined some steps below that you can follow to ensure that your EPIC experience is truly epic.

Plan For It
Make sure you know your dates and times, and set aside some time to truly experience EPIC. This year EPIC is happening:

Friday, May 11                              1pm - 8pm      
Saturday, May 12                          11am - 7pm
Sunday, May 13 (Mother's Day)    11am - 5pm

I suggest making sure you have at least 4 hours to get there, take your time, and really take it all in.  If you are having a hard time deciding which day to attend, check out the schedule of events to see if there are any demonstrations you simply can't miss.  If you are having trouble nailing down a single day to attend, buy a weekend pass so you don't miss any of it.

Buy Your Tickets In Advance
If you buy your tickets online, you get $3 off the price you'd pay at the door.  That's $3 in your pocket, or $3 more you can spend on awesome stuff at the show! 

Prep Your Social Media
The Exhibitors at EPIC are the cream of the crop and they really have their stuff together.  You'll find that nearly every single exhibitor has some kind of raffle or promotion happening.  I suggest checking the exhibitors out before you even get there, by taking a peek at the Exhibitor List If you really want to prepare, do what I'm doing, and check out all the profiles of companies that interest you and follow them on Twitter and Facebook in advance, to get as much information about them and the promotions they may be offering as possible.

Prep Your Contact Info
Like I said above, nearly every exhibitor has a raffle or promotion.  Your hand is going to get tired from filling out all those forms, so if you want to be super prepared take along a stamp with your information on it or pre-printed sticky labels with your information on it so you can just slap them quickly on to any raffle slips (I question how green this is, but perhaps your labels are recycled!).  I'd make the labels as small as possible, and on them you should include:
  • Your first and last name
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number
  • Your blog or website address
On that note, you should consider the possibility of creating an "event only" email address if you are concerned about spam (I don't think EPIC exhibitors would ever spam you, they are a classier bunch than that, but in case you are paranoid or want to keep all your EPIC mail in one spot).

Don't forget business cards if you have a blog or business!

Plan Your Budget
It's virtually impossible to walk out of EPIC having not purchased a thing, because the quality and deals are amazing.  Set out an amount you'd be able to spend, and stop at the ATM before you get there (to avoid lines/fees).  While some vendors will accept credit/debit, most vendors only accept cash.  It's also a lot easier to just bring cash so that you don't overspend, in my experience. There is also food and drink that you may wish to purchase at the show.

Contemplate Your Personal Sustainability Goals
Prior to attending, think about what aspects of your life you want to make more green.  Are you looking for more sustainable cleaning products? Are you looking to try healthier foods? Are you planning to make your wedding more green?  Spend some time contemplating the types of products you may be in the market for.  

Pack Your Bag Wisely
Even if you are the most frugal person ever and don't plan on buying a thing, you are going to need to bring a cloth bag or backpack because EPIC exhibitors give away awesome samples and freebies.  You aren't going to want to hold all those things in your hands, so don't forget a bag or two!  You may also want to bring your reusable water bottle (or you could always just buy one while you are there!).

Don't Eat Too Much Before You Arrive
There is delicious food at EPIC that you can purchase, but there are also loads of samples.  If you go with a full stomach, you will regret it.  Eat a light meal before hand but prepare to try many delicious things while you are there!

My EPIC Experience Style
There are a few things I try to do each year to make sure I maximize my experience, and here they are:

1.  Give yourself more than enough time to experience it all (seriously, 3-4 hours minimum).

2.  Don't go with someone who is unenthusiastic or clingy... they may hold you back from seeing everything you want!  My favorite thing to do is just go alone, so I can take it all in, or to find an independent and non-clingy friend to join me. (I literally banned my ex from attending with me).

3.  Start at one end of the room, and work your way around.  Check EVERYTHING out, even if it doesn't seem interesting to you upon the first impression.  You never know, right?

4.  Don't buy anything your first time around... think about it all.  Take a card, make a mental note.  Once you've seen everything, figure out what you want to get.  You are probably going to want to buy everything, but that's sort of unrealistic and possibly not that green an idea.  Have a look and then grab what you want on your second trip around the room.

5.  Chat with the vendors; many of them are the actual owners of the companies they are representing and many are local.  Introduce yourself, let them tell you about their products.  It's inspiring to see how proud the exhibitors are of their products!

6.  Have fun, meet new people, network!  EPIC is a lot of fun.

If you want to check out my review of last year's event, check out this entry. 

EPIC Promotional Code for 2012
If you've come here for the EPIC Promotional Coupon Code for $5 off, it's EPIC2012, but there's a limited quantity so hurry and get your ticket!

*I've not been sponsored by EPIC or compensated any way to do this entry, or last year's review. I just genuinely love the event and want to make sure as many people attend as possible because I feel the message is inherently good and will benefit everyone.


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