Going to the International Home and Housewares show this weekend? We were getting tired of the usual travel "tips" so we compiled the most detailed plan of attack for your showroom strut in Chitown. Seriously, we're not just telling you what to eat, we're telling you which halls have the best grub and more. So pack warm clothes (duh) and then read this list.
What are some must-eat foods and places to visit at the show?
1. Food at McCormick: best place to eat is second floor toward the front looking out toward the cab line. It’s kind of a hidden food court. Don’t get the grab and go stuff out on the main trade show floor. It’s been sitting around forever and is disgusting. The food court has stir fry, burritos, salads, sandwiches. They aren’t the best, but are much better than the stuff wrapped in plastic. If you have a little more time and/or want to take someone out for a nice lunch or drinks, walk over to the Hyatt that is attached to McCormick. There’s a nice sit-down restaurant there, plus a bar and a pizza place.
2. Be sure to listen to Leatrice Eiseman’s Pantone color forecast presentation during the show. Also check out the Pantone display located in the middle of McCormick. It’s awesome to hear all the color combos and thought process behind them. Some are based on movies and/or pop culture, some on the economy, some on politics. Truly fascinating.
3. Make your way to the back of the “S” hall to do some celebrity chef sighting. Have your camera ready in the chef demo area. You’ll typically get to see people like Rachael Ray, Curtis Stone, Chef Duff, Buddy the Cake Boss, Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, and more.
4. If you want to see what’s up and coming, check out the inventors’ section in the back right area of “S” hall. Kind of cool to see the startups and their fun new ideas.
5. Plan to wear outfits that have pockets. So annoying to have to juggle a cell phone, biz cards, pen, notepad. Plus, a wise woman once told me, always keep your ID, a credit card and $20 on your person at trade shows (I like to keep those tucked in my name badge holder). If a disaster happens, you don’t want to be scrambling to get your purse out of a locked cabinet. Just get the heck out of there!
6. Dress in layers. You don’t know if it’s going to be hot or cold in the building. It depends on the time of day or where in the building you are. You can be freezing or burning up. Just dress for anything ranging from a day at the beach to Elsa’s Frozen castle and you should be just fine. Really, just wear a short sleeved dress, scarf, tights, flats, and a cardigan – topped with a parka while waiting in the cab line.
What should I bring?
7. Just check a bag. It may be tempting for a short business trip to pack light and take a carry on but I’ve found I’m always wishing I brought a few more outfits or shoes. You never know if you are going to end up having dinner or drinks with potential clients.
8. Bring extra chargers. Nothing is worse than having your iPhone and or computer dying on you when you need it most.
9. Bring snacks! It sounds silly, but you don’t really know when you’re getting a lunch break and if there will even be something remotely appetizing available.
10. Bring a water bottle (we’re partial to Tervis!) and fill it up all day long. Trade show and hotel air can dry you out, not to mention talking all day and night. It’s so important to stay hydrated. You’ll avoid headaches this way too. Extras to pack: eye drops, Tylenol, band-aids, Kleenex, super hydrating hand cream, lots of business cards.
Bonus: Research Google and then Yelp to hone in on the best places. In Chicago, the foodie favorites change year to year so if that’s your thing, do your research and plan early. Also, go to Eataly. Just do it.