The 2017 AHR Expo returns to the Las Vegas Convention Center Jan. 30-Feb. 1 and once again I’ll be front and center.

I believe this is my 31st consecutive year attending the show; however I also attended it back in 1984. In earlier years I used to man a booth for a manufacturer or a trade publication at the show. I can remember working for a major manufacturer distributor as its service/training manager in 1986 and was quite disappointed when my manager (who didn’t attend) denied my request for financial help in traveling to and staying in the city where it was held. In fact, he didn’t even want to allow me the time off. My total expenses were less than $250 back then, which were no more than what it cost me to put on a training class. I digress…

What about you? Do you see the value in attending and bringing along some of your key personnel (especially salespeople) so they can see where the industry is headed and take a look at important products for your company to represent?

Unfortunately for too many, it’s easy to forget why you are there. I sometimes see large groups of people walking along talking to each other while they pass booths offering products they should be looking at. Each year I also see individuals looking for the “free stuff.”

Me? It usually takes me two days to walk the whole show and attend all the press conferences because I don’t want to miss anything. Yes, I may stop at a hundred or more booths to ask questions and I walk alone taking few freebies other than an occasional mint. Know why you are there!

If you’re a compulsive gambler, it’s probably best to avoid Las Vegas. However, it always is someplace to see if you aren’t! If you’re planning to fly in, it’s best to book a room with one of the suggested hotels because the AHR folks have secured convention pricing and there will be a free shuttle pickup service that arrives and leaves for the convention center every half hour — no need to go through the frustration of the convention parking lot or Las Vegas traffic.

Be comfortable! Unless you are local or famous, few will recognize you. Plan for a long walk and wear some very comfortable shoes! Another tip: Prepare for cold weather. Though Las Vegas may be in the desert near California, don’t expect Southern California weather. It likely will be chilly and windy so plan to spend most of your time indoors.

Another thing to be aware of is the manufacturers of products you represent or may wish to represent in the future will likely have hospitality suites or even major events on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday evenings after the show. Be sure to ask them for an invitation (no, it’s not rude) because this will give you a special opportunity to talk to some of the top brass and ask questions as you enjoy some refreshments at what often is a major attraction.

And be sure to say hello to me there!