We're so excited to be going to the Maison et Objet  trade show in Paris again this year! We can't wait to meet new suppliers and to catch up with our well-known favourites. We're going to be looking for some new e-commerce suppliers as well in order to update our webshop for the new year. :)

As fantastic as Maison et Objet is, it takes a bit of planning to make sure you get the most of the time you have - this year, I am only going to have two days at the show, which means I will have to plan extra carefully or I might miss something important!

If you've been going for years, you might already have your own routine for how to get through the show, but incase you are going for the first or second time, you might benefit from our Maison et Objet tips:

Planning your Visit
We like to plan ahead in terms of what we are going to see - not that we don't aim to get through everything, row by row and hall by hall, but pre-planning the suppliers you'd most like to see gives your visit a bit of structure. I like to divide my suppliers by TYPE - lighting, furniture, bed linens, accessories and so on and choose 5-10 suppliers in each category, in a mix of known suppliers I'd like to re-visit and new suppliers I've never seen but would like to find out more about. I like to be very organised and to organise the suppliers I want to see by HALL and also by STAND, so that when I walk through each hall I know which of my planned suppliers is coming up next.

Survival Guide
In order to get through 2-3 days of full-on walking, meeting suppliers and recording new information, it's not enough to just be organised because if you're not physically and mentally prepared, you won't get through everything you want to see. Therefore, you should carefully plan what to wear, what to carry and what to eat. Rule number one is to be comfortable - bring a change of shoes because your feet will hurt after day one enough to not want to wear the same shoes twice. The weather can be unpredictable and depending on how fast you are walking, you may get too hot - wear layers so that you can quickly get comfortable again.

 Also, pack into a suitcase with wheels so in case you don't have time to put your bag into the cloakroom, at least you can wheel it around with you (I mean a cabin size bag, not a 2-week sun holiday). In terms of what to carry, bring a bag with plenty of space that you can fit all the business cards and brochures you pick up. I prefer to bring a backpack so that it doesn't feel too heavy to carry around. Also, in terms of collecting information from suppliers, try to avoid taking home huge catalogues because you will not want to carry these around for the whole day (more on this in 'Recording What you See')! Although there are plenty of places to grab a snack, I like to bring some healthy cereal bars or fruit with me in case I get hungry and just want to carry on.

We like to take lots of photos and tweet what we see (and also it's easy to get lost from your colleagues so we also phone and text each other a lot) - possibly the most important rule of the survival guide is to get yourself a battery booster for your phone, or you might find yourself stranded!

Recording What you See
There is a lot of information to take in at Maison et Objet and recording everything you see and like in an organised way so that you can make sense of the information when you come back can be a bit difficult. We have worked out a way to make the best sense of everything.
1. Photograph the name of the brand you like, then the items you like. As long as you always stick to this, it will be easier to remember what product was from which supplier when you get back.
2. Collect business cards of the people you spoke to so that you have a contact to get in touch with when you need them.
3. Collect brochures or postcards from your preferred suppliers and staple these together - try not to pick up heavy catalogues.
4. Register your details and hand out your business cards to suppliers. You can request that these suppliers send you their full catalogues by post or by PDF after the show.
5. Make a note of which suppliers you spoke to and what you are waiting to hear back from them, or what information you need to send to them.
6. The key questions to ask are price (euros or pounds, trade or retail, including or excluding VAT), lead time, choice of material and colour, can they supply samples and so on.

How to Connect Post-Show
A lot of the organising of information takes place when you are back at the office. We like to organise our business cards and brochures into labeled folders around the office so that when we need to find, for example, a ceramic tile, we look under the tiles folder. We also save a record of our suppliers photos, contact details, catalogues and price lists on a shared folder in Dropbox where everyone can access the data. However, before we do any of this we share all of our information with our colleagues, in case we have picked up some of the same information (which is often the case).
Once everything is organised and recorded, we run through our notes on each supplier and put together a list of who to contact (if you picked up business cards of the reps at the show, you should have plenty of contacts). It's polite to give you suppliers a week or so before you overwhelm them with a barrage of emails and phone calls (they've had a longer week than you have for sure). However, do keep a track of what you are still waiting for and from whom, and if price lists and catalogues don't start showing up, send them a friendly email as a reminder. In fact, it's good to regularly email the contacts you have made so that suppliers remember to keep you updated on their newest products. We like to register to all the newsletters so that we remember the brands we liked and always know what's going on with our favourite suppliers.

I hope that our Paris survival guide will be helpful to you and good luck to all of you going to the show - hope to see you there!