the past 3 days have been great for myself and my company. a few things- The expo may not be specifically for Christmas or Landscape light guys, but it has given me a wonderful boost before the crazy days ahead. Things I liked- The few and far between booths that help Christmas light companies. It is always good to check in with Christmas Decor, Brite Ideas, Holiday Bright Lights to see what the leaders are up to. Check out thier literature, new product catalogs and sample products on display. Talk to them and see where they see the industry going. how the industry is going in the current economic times. All said that rehangs are holding and most are reporting increased sales from thier franchises distributors. It looks that maybe Christmas lights are recession resistant, but not recession proof. The booths that help with marketing your company. I met with a gentlemen who has been working with a direct mail comapny for 12 years and was thier factory rep. They print in the US, and they had a colossal 8 1/2 by 15 1/2 postcard, full color both sides, card stock but no UV, not folded but flat, pn a run of 15000 they would design, print and mail for 29 cents per card, or about 4500 bucks. I am seriously considering that for my landscape light business in 4 mailings of 4000 or so in the spring spread over 4 months. Other booths had internet help, and had some pretty sobering statistics. Nearly 1/2 of all folks now only hire through the internet on service companies. when you filter out the under 40 crowd, a bit better, as I tend to sell to folks 40 plus years old, only 23 % of those folks do. but as this population ages, If you don't have an awesome website you are already missing 23 % of the market, and that will grow each year. I have to get a website in place by next April. Collection services-several booths. I always have a few folks that do not pay. I have got to just give my invoices to a collection agency and let them hound folks. I essentially gave away 5-6000 last year on non payers. that is a trip to Disneyworld for may family if that is collected. many charge wildly different fees, from 100 bucks per collection to 50% of collected. The food is terrible at the expo except for the free bratwursts at the outdoor Kohler booth. they shut it down on friday because of rain and do not do it on saturday. I paid 5.75 for a horrible pork bar-b-q sandwich, 3.75 for a coke and 2.75 for fries. all gross. eat somewhere else offsite for 12 bucks. Seeing as I will have a booth for my Christrmas/landscape lighting franchise system in 2010, I looked at other booths for what stood out. candy to lure people in. Beautiful people ( ok, hired girl models) to hand out beautiful literature. carpet in booths with pad is good on the feet. chairs to let folks sit and rest thier feet. video screens running sped up footage of installs on landscapes, homes, sod yards etc, catches people. bigger screens catch more folks. very flashly professional color graphics on your backdrop. multiple booth folks to help multiple people. having things on front table folks can pick up and feel. the double size booths ( 10x20 ) seem to be the minimum to let folks see what you have and sit for a spell. Booths with lights on the backdrop drew more folks than just the ones relying on ambient lighting. professional uniforms. marty Grunders workshop on Saturday was awesome for selling. It alone was worth the trip. Do the other workshops as well to help run your business. overall a very good trip if you look for what applies to your business. sure the outdoor demo of equipment is fun, but not reall applicable to my business. try to consider going next year if you guys can afford it !