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canton fair

The Canton Fair | 8 Must-Knows About China’s Largest Trade Show

China’s Import and Export Fair, a.k.a. The Canton Fair, is the largest trade show in China and the second largest trade show on the planet. First held in 1957, The Canton Fair takes place twice a year each spring and autumn in Guangzhou, China and attracts more than 24,000 of China’s best foreign trade companies.


To give you an idea of it’s scale, the 121st session held earlier this year in the spring of 2017 had more than 60,000 stands in an exhibition area that covered more than 1 million square meters. With that kind of range, you’re going to need to prepare yourself well in advance of attending. Here are our 8 must-knows before your next trip to the Canton Fair.


1. Apply Online


Don’t even think about attempting to wait in a line to grab your registration. Apply online beforehand and save yourself a day. Then use that extra day to brush up on your Mandarin, visit Baiyun Mountain or tour the Zhenhai Tower.


2. Dress Appropriately


There’s no need for a 3-piece suit, but dammit, look presentable. We recommend business casual at the minimum. You’ll be taken more seriously, which will help you when negotiating with your potential suppliers. The last thing you’ll want is to be brushed aside because you couldn’t bother to throw on pants before leaving your hotel.


3. Negotiate


Speaking of negotiating, NEGOTIATE. Very rarely is the first price you’re given the best price you can get. Say nothing, and you’ll risk spending more than you have to. But speak up, and you’ll save big in the long run.





Bring your own pens, and notebooks. You’d think the largest trade show in China would have easier access to writing materials, but these items can be surprisingly difficult to locate. So bring your own materials and make sure you use them to take plenty of notes.


5. Take Selfies


Wait, what? Yup, you read correctly. Think about it this way. You’re about to meet and greet with hundreds, if not thousands of individuals who will almost certainly forget you even existed shortly after you walk away. So unless you look like Brad Pitt or Gal Gadot, your name, face and the specifics of your discussion will be harder to recall when you follow up with them after the event.


Take a funny selfie with each person you speak with. They’ll find it hilarious, plus you can then use that photo in your follow up email/text/WeChat message to help them remember you.



6. Bring Plenty of Business Cards


Ten to 15 years ago this tip would’ve been a no-brainer. But the digital age has irreversibly impacted the art of the business card, so I’m here to make sure you’re prepared. Many of the businesses you speak with at the Canton Fair won’t hand over so much as a napkin to blow your nose until you present them with your card. Bring twice as many as you think you’ll need, then double that number and multiply it by five.


7. Bring a Book Bag


Now that you’re locked and loaded with enough business cards to make Patrick Bateman jealous, you’re going to want a convenient place to store the hundreds of catalogs, brochures, samples, etc. that you can now collect from the booths you visit. If bookbags aren’t your style, opt for a rolling luggage piece instead. Either way, make sure you have a place to store all of that swag.


8. Children Get In Free


Most children, at least. Any attendee with a child under 140cm (4.59 ft.) can bring them for free.


Headed to the Canton Fair? With our recent launch at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), now you can fly to Guangzhou with Airmule and save up to $600 on your flight by using your excess luggage space to fly as an on-board courier. Be sure to login or register and list your trip today!