Coordinating your company’s participation in a trade show is about attention to detail. You know, more than anyone, that the smallest minutiae that might seem unimportant to the untrained observer, could make or break a trade show exhibit experience. You know, too, that consideration of time and money are both essential as trade show coordination gets down to the wire. As it can become difficult to know where to focus while planning so many moving parts at once, we’ve broken down the most important whos, wheres, and whens for you to keep under wraps.
The Who: People to Consider While Trade Show Planning
Your Exhibit Designers & Builders
Once you have secured your spot at a trade show, it’s time to fill that space with a display that will be on brand, eye-catching, and reflective of quality and professionalism. The builders and designers you choose to contract with to develop this display are an essential part of your trade show team. Here’s a great resource to find an exhibit and display producer.
Your Exhibit Staff
While a trade show attendee might approach your booth because it looks cool, your staff will be the ones who keep each visitor impressed and give your company the opportunity to make a connection – or even a sale. Who will you trust with the responsibility of being effervescent, engaging, and empathic in the booth? Here are 27 tips to help your chosen ones engage with attendees.
Don’t let your competitors, their booths, or their marketing efforts psych you out. Instead, check out your competitors’ booths and presence so you know what you’re up against. This should get you motivated to stand out and earn the attention of passersby.
Clearly, your most imperative people to impress are the attendees themselves. While networking events and trade shows are great chances to meet collaborators and media representatives too, the customers will win the day. Go into your trade show with clarity – who do you want to meet, how will you identify those people, and what will you say to get them to care about your product? Start by putting your customer experience first.
Locations to Consider While Trade Show Planning
The Event City
It’s important to consider the geographical location of your trade show. Logistically, it’s important to consider early and often just how your staff, your booth, and the products you’ll display will arrive in this city, as well as what the weather might be, and which strategic partners or potential future clients might be stationed there. Do your research.
Your Exhibit Storage Location
How will you be storing your booth components long-term in your city, as well as short-term in the city where the event will be held? Warehousing your exhibit may be necessary so it’s important to consider the logistics of transporting these items, as well as the costs of handling.
The Event Venue
Know your venue. It’s important to know your physical limitations such as the capacity of the freight elevator or the clearance of the door frames in order to get your display components to their destination. It’s also smart to know who you can work with to get an extension cord or borrow A/V equipment for your booth as needed.
Your Booth Location
Maximizing your booth location is essential. Study the flow of the event to determine where your people will be coming from and position your staff and booth opening to greet them as they pass by. Know how much space you can take up vertically and note your proximity to exits, bathrooms, and other points of interest for attendees. Use the space to your advantage.
Timelines to Consider While Trade Show Planning
When to Apply
It’s smart to consult a trade show calendar early to determine which trade shows your company might partake in each year. This one from The Tradeshow Network is a great example. As you begin to plan which ones you’ll exhibit at, note their dates and the threshold of application for exhibition. If you’ve exhibited at a show before, you may have an easier time applying since you’ll be in the system and may even have representative contacts. New shows may require more legwork but could unlock new possibilities for your business. Note all deadlines and other pertinent info for each event.
If you’re using an existing display, make sure you have enough time to get it out, dust it off, and check for any issues. If you’re building a new booth, be sure to adhere to typical timelines for design and build and plan those weeks into your overall agenda. This Buyer’s Guide from Business News Daily might help.
Your beautiful new booth won’t do you much good if it doesn’t make it to the event location. Make sure that you consider how you will ship your components to and from the event and round UP when it comes to the projected time of arrival. Arrange for storage on both ends.
Setup & Teardown
When can you begin setting up your booth and walking your staff through the event space? Plan their travel and your training accordingly. Similarly, make sure you’ve got enough resources and a clean process in place to tear down your display in the allotted time.
Event Duration & Timeline
How long is this event? How long will your staff shifts be? How many shifts will you need? When will meals fall into this plan? How does this impact how many nights of accommodations your team will require? Don’t forget to account for setup and tear-down days.
After the Event
Arguably the most important part of the success of your trade show exhibition will come after the event has come and gone. Your team’s approach to following up with leads, fulfilling orders, and analyzing the performance of your exhibit will greatly impact the ROI for this and future exhibitions. Here’s more on how to follow up after a trade show.
While this post only scratches the surface of every detail you’ll consider for your upcoming trade show, these are among the highest impact and most essential elements to keep top of mind. With these under control, your trade show experience will be smooth sailing.
For more on getting the most from an upcoming trade show, read our comprehensive Guide to Enhancing Your Trade Show Plan.