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Nightmare Exhibitions

Planning for a big trade show can take up to, or longer than, a full year. And no matter how long you plan, no matter how detailed you are, something could always go wrong. Have no fear! We have some tips to help you get past some of the most feared trade show situations.


Bad location If you’re planning on being a regular exhibitor at a show each year, reserve a booth space for the following year each year you attend. This helps ensure that you get one of the first choices in location and size that you want the following year. Some tradeshows base exhibit location on the amount of advertising money you spend with the organization, or how active your organization promotes the show. This varies by industry and show size, but it doesn’t hurt to reserve your booth space as soon as possible, even if that means reserving the year prior! If you didn’t have time to plan and you find yourself in a less than ideal location, use the power of networking! Make sure to leave some staff behind at the booth, but go out and network with different exhibitors. Thankfully there is no rule about staying in your booth during the entire show, which means you can use that to your advantage.


Missing materials Think of the collateral that you bring to a trade show as gold. The banners, pamphlets, balloons, or digital material that you invest in before the show are what will catch people’s eyes and create intrigue. But what happens if the printer misses your deadline, or something is lost in shipping? Plan to find a reliable printer in the same location as your event beforehand so that if worst happens you can be prepared to print new materials. To avoid this, plan as far in advance as possible and be in frequent communication with your designers and printers during the months before the show. There is less of a chance of someone dropping the ball if communication is clear. Some exhibitors avoid the hassle of hauling hard copies of marketing collateral to the show by having all of that content available in the form of a USB giveaway. Better yet, you could ask for the attendee’s contact information to send them materials that are only of interest to them. This means you’ve got an interested prospect AND valuable contact information for your sales team to follow up on.


Limited Return on Investment You are going to this exhibition for a reason. Whether you’re trying to gain new clientele, display and sell a new product, gain recognition or become a leader in educating others in your field, you want the expo to be worth your time and money. Unfortunately, many people that attend trade shows go into them with limited knowledge, thus finding that the ROI was not worth it. Because there are so much work and money spent on the front end of expo planning, you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure the show is worth your time. A few simple tips are: Standing near your booth instead of sitting behind a table, engaging with those that pass by. Invest in prizes and giveaways. Talk with prospects about their needs and how your company can help, and make sure to send follow-up contact emails to every single person after the show so that you can keep your name in front of people. Use social media before and during your trade show so that people know you plan to attend, and so they know where you are during!


We believe that trade shows can be profitable and favorable to any company or individual that goes into it with the correct knowledge. Simply doing your research, planning, and being assertive will get you very far as an exhibitor!



tradeshows timeline sheet calucaltion roi
Trade Show Planning Timeline (PDF)

Download this all-in-one trade show planning timeline to keep track of your trade show deadlines. Our timeline includes exhibit design & build tasks, technology considerations, pre-show promotions, booth staff tasks, lead management and miscellaneous items. Also included is; budget planning information, a booth staff schedule, typical show services deadline list and a budget calculator perfect for trade show veterans and those newer to the industry.

About the Author

Greg Johnson is the Managing Director at Skyline Exhibits Utah. He has 20 years of industry experience with more than 12 of that spent within the Skyline network. Greg previously held the position of Sr. Director of Global Marketing and Events at a global technology company. With his expertise in marketing, design and customer service, Greg has an unquenchable enthusiasm for your trade show success. For more information on trade show displays, trade show booths, and trade show exhibits in the greater Salt Lake City area of Utah, please visit

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