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Attending Disability Expos For The First Time

Mar 27, 2023

The 2023 disability event season has officially begun! With multiple trade events, exhibitions, and road shows taking place in the coming months, we wanted to share some of our top tips. Something we learned from attending many events over the years, both as abled bodied exhibitors/visitors and those with disabilities, meaning we have a fair bit of experience to draw on!

Tip No.1 - Prepare For A Rollercoaster Of Emotions

Such experiences can be mentally taxing, particularly for first timers! Not only because of the sheer size of the venues but also the need to see everything. Pair that with the overpowering stimulation from exhibitors continually delivering sales pitches at every opportunity, and it’s easy to leave feeling both empowered and deflated. So, try preparing yourself for the emotions associated with attending disability events.

Many visitors have never met another wheelchair user, let alone been surrounded by them. Many have never been exposed to a disability inclusive environment or surrounded by endless life-changing devices. You can feel hopeful about a more independent future one moment, then feel defeated by the astronomical costs the next. So never be afraid to take some time out or go outside the venue for a quick breather.

Tip No.2 - Make Realistic Expectations

Such experiences are also physically exhausting, particularly for visitors with pain related disabilities. Travelling to and from events often involves navigating public places that aren’t entirely accessible. (Think service stations, hotels, and public transport.) So, we suggest doing plenty of research beforehand to find the most suitable set-up for your needs. For example, staying onsite can make things easier, especially if it’s within walking distance to avoid busy car parks and transport links. We even go as far as choosing which restaurants to dine in to avoid unexpected accessibility issues and trying to make decisions when pain and fatigue levels are high.

Look at the event line-up beforehand and highlight any talks, shows, or experiences you must see. Then highlight any products/companies you want to check out. It’s easy to lose track of time once inside, so you could even pick up a map on your way in and create a dot-to-dot to stay on track.

Most importantly, know your limits. Don’t muddle through if you are struggling. Instead, find a quiet rest spot or go to the hotel for a meds break. When visiting an event, we often go in an hour or two after opening to avoid navigating large crowds. Or when exhibiting, we will rotate team members to ensure one of us can lie in and the other can clock off early! Pushing yourself has consequences that are usually worth it. But try keeping your diary free for a few days after the event to recharge.

Tip No.3 - It's Not The Real World

It’s hard not to get excited about trying new products, but it is vital to remember that everything on display was set up to fit the average user and is not a true reflection of whether you would truly benefit from it. Plus, the surrounding environment is nothing like the real world, including the flooring, which is purposely flat, open, and either super shiny or thinly carpeted.

Thankfully, events are a great way to narrow your search. Particularly when purchasing a wheelchair, it can be difficult to know where to begin. So don’t be ashamed to try as many products as your needs allow. Utilise the onsite test track filled with small obstacles and various surfaces to roll across. Then after the event, take some time to reflect on your favourite products before proceeding with a home demonstration.

Tip No.4 - Utilise Expert Opinions

Not only can you test products, attend relevant seminars, and ask lots of questions at disability events. It’s also a chance to speak with other wheelchair users, whether it’s about their day or a product they are using. It’s the perfect way to gather realistic feedback in an environment overflowing with scripted sales pitches.

Alternatively, check out our directory of reviews written by real users. Chat with others in our social media platforms' comments section. Or get in touch with our team to discuss your experience, how to access funding, or book a home demonstration with one of our trusted partners!

Tip No.5 - You Have The Power

Aside from all the visitor benefits listed above, most exhibitors are there to make enough sales to cover the cost of their stand. It also isn’t uncommon for prices to be inflated before the event and then “discounted” to compensate for the increased outgoings associated with exhibiting. So, prepare to be bombarded with open-ended questions and offers designed to entice you.

That being said, most exclusive event discounts can often be honoured in the weeks following the event, as long as you show significant interest, book a follow-up call, arrange a home demonstration etc. So, avoid committing to large purchases on the day and remember to ask yourself if are walking/rolling straight into a money-making trap. There are so many great distributors offering better prices outside of the event. Plus, the more competing quotes you can get, the more likely you will be able to ask your favourite supplier if they can price match. Alternatively, if you are unsure, drop us a message after the event to see if one of our trusted partners can beat your quote!