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Fiona Lynch’s guide to surviving Milan… Or any trade show

Whether you’re planning to go this year, or hoping to make it next year, one thing is for certain when it comes to trade shows – there is so much to take in. So grab all the advice you can to make sure you have best (and smoothest) experience.

Fiona Lynch portrait by Stewart Day.

Portrait by Stewart Day.

Regardless of whether you’ve been more times than you can count, or if it’s still on your wishlist – the sights, sounds and intensity of Salone del Mobile Milan can be overwhelming.

Having experienced the Salone del Mobile Milan two years in a row and on her way over for the third, design maven Fiona Lynch has picked up plenty of hot tips for you to keep in mind when tackling the world’s biggest design fair (or any other trade fair for that matter).

The Salone continues to grow each year, but Fiona’s insights are universal. Take a leaf out of her book and you’ll come away with a fresh, inspired perspective to invigorate your work.

Research and plan.. But not too much

Wherever possible do as much planning ahead of time as you can. Pick out certain areas, or home in on particular brands that you’re fond of and see what they’re up to.

“It can be hard to see everything. And there’s nothing worse than finding out about something really cool to then discover it’s in an area you’ve already covered,” shares Fiona.

For Fiona, social media – in particular, Instagram – is a great source for researching what’s going on, “I find things on Instagram and then just save them. It’s such a useful tool to see what’s happening.”

From there, create a Google Map for yourself, “Google Maps is just the best, you can keep everything in a central place and plan your days around little pockets and areas,” she says.

“Google Maps is just the best, you can keep everything in a central place and plan your days around little pockets and areas.” – Fiona Lynch

On the flip side of that, there is just so much going on that you would never discover without getting lost and exploring. So another thing Fiona makes sure to do is to leave some time for wandering.

“By sticking to one area for the day, such as Brera for example, you can do all the things you’ve planned but then have some time up your sleeve to stumble onto new and unexpected things too,” shares Fiona.

A little bit of luxury can go a long way

“The first year I came I walked everywhere. But honestly, just catch some taxis! It will save your feet and make sure you don’t lose steam before the week is out,” advises Fiona.

If you’re sticking to a particular area for the day, catch a taxi there and back but walk in-between. You’ll still be clocking in plenty of steps and leaving opportunities to happen upon unexpected sights, but saving your poor feet from unnecessary kilometres.

One of the trickiest things to navigate is accommodation. Rates skyrocket with the huge influx of people pouring into the city. Knowing this, Fiona jumped in super early and booked a beautiful hotel exactly a year before.

“I had a really bad accommodation experience in my first year, so I decided to just book the following year then and there. I got such a fabulous rate because of it,” says Fiona.

If you know Milan is something you’re going to commit to, get in as early as possible for the best accommodation. And the best thing about having a great place to stay is the accessibility, which will save you time when heading out.

Investing in your knowledge

For Fiona, the annual trip to Milan isn’t just a holiday, but it’s also not exclusively a business trip either.

“It’s an enriching experience. Of course, there is an element that relates to work, I get lots of new ideas but it’s completely enjoyable. I wouldn’t really call it work, but it’s an investment in my knowledge,” says Fiona.

“It’s an enriching experience. Of course, there is an element that relates to work, I get lots of new ideas but it’s completely enjoyable… it’s an investment in my knowledge.” – Fiona Lynch

It’s also a great opportunity to meet people and forge relationships that feed back into work, “People seem quite shocked to know you’re from Australia and have travelled so far. But they’re also happy to meet and learn about the work we’re doing.”

If you’re sitting on the fence about visiting a tradeshow and not sure what you could take out of it. Fiona’s approach is simple, “My plan is to just keep coming every year.”

Find out who from the Indesign team will be on the ground this year.

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