Albert and I flew to Guangzhou for a 4-day trip recently. Technically it could be considered a babymoon, with me being 4 months pregnant and leaving our kids at home with my mom. In reality, we spent most of our time hustling and working!
Guangzhou (formerly Canton) is one of the most developed cities in China. It is most famous for the bi-annual Canton Fair, which attracts hundreds of thousands of buyers from around the world. Among other impressive things that I can note off the top of my head are it’s amazing airport and yummy Cantonese food.
If it’s your first time to travel for business in China, here’s a peek of what our short Guangzhou trip was like:
Day 0: Flying and Settling In At The Westin
As in all our Guangzhou trips, Albert insisted we book China Southern Airlines for our flight. Primarily because China Southern has the most convenient flight times. Also, their service is much more responsive and efficient than our local airlines.
We got clearance from my OB that I could travel, on the condition that I should be on the wheelchair the entire time. Or else stay at home. Of course I’m going! Hahaha.
I e-mailed the airline, and they quickly responded to our request for wheelchair service. The ground staff with the wheel chair was available as soon as we were at the check-in counter and as soon as we landed. They even upgraded our seats, what a perk! 🙂
We checked in at The Westin Pazhou, and turned in early to get ready for the start of a busy day. Here’s why I would definitely recommend the Westin Pazhou if you’re going to Guangzhou for a trade fair.
Day 1: Trade Fair and Welcome Banquet
For this trip, we attended a smaller, niche fair called the Guangzhou International Toy and Education, and Guangzhou Baby & Stroller Fair. We wanted to see what were the new trends and products in the market, and possibly connect with new suppliers.
The fair was a short walk away from our hotel, and my wonderful husband pushed me on my wheelchair from the hotel and to the trade show venue and all throughout the day. It was a huge building with four floors (B1 to 3rd level), all promoting, marketing different kinds of toys!
We were also invited to a sumptuous welcome banquet at the end of the first day and met with the organizers. One of the reasons we prefer these smaller, more intimate fairs over bigger fairs like the Canton Fair is the level of service and hospitality from the organizers turns a few notches up, especially for international buyers.
Day 2: More Trade Fair, Meetings
For the second day, it was more pushing and wheeling for Albert as we explored even more floors of the trade fair. Even if I was just sitting the entire time, it was also tiring to screen and talk to the exhibitors. Most of the spoke English very well, but others were limited to our conversational Mandarin and hand gestures.
Albert ordered room service in the hotel so I can rest and organize the TONS of brochures and leaflets we gathered, while he met with a prospective supplier for dinner.
Day 3: Foshan City, Meeting New and Current Supplier
One of the veteran trade fair tricks is to visit until the last hour of the last day (find out why in my next post). But we chose to forego this opportunity and checked out of the Westin early because we had much more stuff to do on our itinerary.
What’s great about business trips is the opportunity to network and meet suppliers face-to-face, and one supplier who was “courting” Albert even drove 2 hours to pick us up at the Westin and bring us to our hotel in Foshan, a neighboring city. On the condition that we visit his factory first, of course 😉
After touring the prospective new supplier’s factory, we settled at the Hilton Foshan, compliments of a longtime supplier (who was also pregnant like me!).
Day 4: More Meetings, Furniture Shopping and Flying Home
On our last day, Albert visited one of his biggest tile suppliers, and they treated us for lunch. (I think one of the reasons I love business trips that everyone wants to take us for lunch, dinner or treats us for our hotels). But Albert says it also comes at a price hehe!
We had a late flight home, so we were able to visit a few of the furniture malls in Foshan. Foshan is famous for its furniture industry and they have huge malls just dedicated to selling all kinds of furniture. After some bargaining, we got a gorgeous long solid wood dining table at less than half the price of what it was being sold for here!
Xie Xie, Guangzhou
It was a successful and productive trip. Albert is really the more veteran China traveler among us, and it was a great bonding and learning experience for us. To be honest, it was also nice to be the center of his attention and being princess-ed during the 4 day trip! As a work-at-home mom, it was super refreshing to step away from routine and experience something new and different.
If you want to learn more about attending trade shows, here’s my post on Trade Show Tips for First-Timers.