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Trade Show Must Haves

We love trade shows. The buzz, the energy, the opportunities, the networking; everything about them. But it is no surprise that the hard work begins the very moment you decide to exhibit at a trade show. From the mental strategizing to the logistics, to the budgeting, to training your team and designing your booth –  the work is nonstop from beginning to end. In order to get the most out of your investment of time and energy, we have some tips for all of you expo-goers! Although there are many, here are a few that stand out as those I have found to be useful.

Logistical Must Haves

Office-in-a-Box This is a term I can’t take credit for but one I learned during my former life as an event manager. This box included everything you could possibly need on the show floor.  Including items such as a stapler, paper clips, sharpies, double-sided tape, stickies, pens and pencils, scissors, etc.; in other words, your office at your fingertips.

Multi-surface wipes You’ve got to keep your investment clean! After all the work you did to design, create and then build your booth, you’ll want to make sure that it looks its best for the entirety of the show. At the end of the day, you’re going to want an easy way to clean everything off to start fresh the following day. Another great idea is to put a pack of unscented baby wipes inside of your trade show crate.  Ever see how dirty those crates get by the time they arrive on the show floor; and how dirty your hands get during set up?  The baby wipes are wonderful for cleaning your hands too!

Dust Buster and Steamer These are great items to have if you have room to pack them. Save on cleaning costs for smaller booths by bringing your own hand-held vacuum for carpet and surface touch up.  The steamer is good to have for any last-minute wrinkle corrections on graphics.

A Small Tool Kit Either as parts of your Office-in-a-Box or in their own container, having some basic and essential tools are a must. You’ll want to have the correct tools to not only be able to set up your booth and materials correctly but to be able to correct any unexpected issues during the show such as a falling graphic or wobbly table leg. On-hand items such as double-sided tape, industrial tape (for wire management), scissors as mentioned above, as well as regular tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers are essential.

Snacks and hydration. Although you may mentally pre-plan your schedule, including meals for the day, you may be surprised as to how busy you can get when all those potential customers start walking up. Before you know it, hours have passed and the lunch break is long gone. Since you’ll want to be at your best while representing your company the entire day, make sure to replenish your energy with snacks and to stay hydrated.



Business Must Haves


Stand Out Branding

That next big trade show looming on your event calendar can serve as a perfect opportunity to take a close look at your graphics, materials, media and promotional items. Are they adequately telling your story?  Are they in sync?  Do they tell the world who you are and what you do in an effective and eye-catching way?   You will want to put your company’s best face forward.



Multiple mediums of interaction in an exhibit aren’t the exception any longer, but the norm. Visitors expect interactive presentations, touchscreens, easy and fun access to information, etc.  This includes your lead generation tool, which makes collecting visitor information faster and fun and leaves more time for your team to do what they do best.


Plenty of Business Cards

You may be shocked as to how many business cards you’ll be handing out, so you’ll want to bring twice as many as you think you’ll need. We’ve all been in that awkward situation where we reach for a card, see that we are out, realize there are two days left of the conference and must make that call to the office to get more FedExed to the hotel. Another fun tip is to use your plastic badge holder as a holder for business cards and a pen. As you meet people on the show floor, you can tuck their cards behind your badge and can also pull from a small stash of your own cards.  You can also keep a pen so that you can write down notes on those cards.

Investing in a trade show can have incredibly beneficial returns; if you do it effectively. Make sure to properly plan so that you come out of the experience knowing that you hit your goals for you, your team, and your company!


Best of luck to you on your future trade show endeavors!


About the Author

Amy Armstrong is a former Exhibiting Consultant at Skyline Philadelphia in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

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