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Your Trade Show Display Didn’t Arrive – Now What?

lost tradeshow displayDespite proper planning, exceptional organization and diligence on your part, there are some things that are beyond your control when planning for a trade show.  If you arrive on the floor to discover that your trade show display is nowhere in sight, don’t panic!  It may merely be misplaced.  But, if it is missing, there are steps you can take to salvage even this disaster.

Make Every Attempt To Locate Your Trade Show Display

Don’t bother pestering the labor crew while they’re busy trying to set up dozens of booths for other exhibitors who are just as frazzled as you are. Instead, go straight to whoever is in charge, explain the situation and ask if they can help you locate your missing trade show display.  The person in charge should immediately designate someone to help you; after all, their reputation rests on exhibitor satisfaction.  Venue management will also be familiar with all the nooks and crannies where a misdirected shipment might end up.  If by some miracle they find your shipment, take the time to carefully check your trade show displays and banner stand to make sure they haven’t been damaged.  If there is some damage, be sure to take a picture, jot down some notes and fill out an accident report with the venue.

If your trade show display is nowhere on the venue premises, contact your shipping or freight carrier and ask them to put a trace on the delivery.  If you have a tracking number for your shipment it shouldn’t take much time for them to locate it and let you know how quickly they can get it to you. If they can’t find it, be sure to file a claim with the carrier.

Lost Giveaways Don’t Have To Shut You Down

It isn’t always your main trade show display that is lost or misdirected.  It may arrive safely while a separate box or shipment with your table top displays or giveaways mysteriously disappears.  If your brochures or flyers don’t arrive, you may want to scan the badges of trade show attendees and make a point to send the brochure as post-show follow up.  Attendees may be expecting to get some take-home information from exhibitors and this way,  you won’t disappoint them.

Lost giveaways are a tougher call.  You probably can’t turn around a special order for branded gifts quickly enough, but there are ways to salvage the situation.  Call a local bakery and order some cookies or some other tasty treat to give to visitors, and be sure to order enough for the duration of the event.  Visitors will remember you for the delicious snack rather than remembering you as the booth that was too cheap (in their minds) to provide a giveaway!

Deflect The Problem With Humor

Depending on what all is missing, you may be able to use a bit of humor to pique the interest of attendees while you’re waiting for your missing booth, banner stand or other elements to arrive.  If you know they will arrive the next day for a week long event, it may not be cost effective to order new graphics for one day.  An alternative might be to order a bold banner stand or sign that says, “Coming Soon! The Lost (Company Name Here) Trade Show Display!”  Attendees always appreciate humor, and they’ll probably stop by to commiserate with you, particularly if they’ve ever been in your shoes.

Preventing A Missing Trade Show Display

To minimize the risk of misdirected or missing elements, be sure to work with a reputable shipping company that uses tracking numbers so that you can keep track of your shipment.  Check in online every day so that you know where your items are along the delivery route and whether it’s been diverted.  Avoid standard shipping if you can, as these delivery dates generally fall within a range rather than being exact and they aren’t guaranteed.  It’s worth the extra money for a shipment that’s guaranteed to arrive by noon the next day if the alternative is three to five business days without a promise that it will arrive on time.

Finally, pack a few of your smaller elements with you if at all possible.   That way, even if the majority of your trade show display is missing, you can at least set out a banner stand or a few or table top displays to let attendees know you’re there.

What's Working In ExhibitingGet more exhibiting ideas and helpful tips in the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper.  Click here for your free copy of the report that covers the 7 key areas of trade show marketing. 

About the Author

Skyline Exhibits offers trade show display design and event exhibits to match any size and budget, ranging from tabletop displays and portable displays to modular inline exhibits and large-scale island exhibits.

5 responses to “Your Trade Show Display Didn’t Arrive – Now What?

  1. Thanks for the great tips! I have yet to have a booth go completely missing (knock on wood) but I have had a couple close calls such as the crates being delivered to the wrong booth which resulted in some very stressful moments before it was found. I really like the idea of bring smaller items with you just in case. I think a lot of people use this logic when packing carry-on’s for traveling, but I never would have thought of it in this case.

    Thanks again!

  2. Excellent article.

    Like the author mentioned, track your trade show shipment daily with the tracking number(s) provided. This is crucial! You can head off many headaches if you’re armed with the knowledge of knowing where your shipment is.

    If you’re shipping your booth LTL/TL freight, it’s a good rule of thumb to allow for a few more days of transit time to accommodate for anything that might delay your shipment from arriving on it’s specified date. Inclement weather can be a culprit.

    Many major freight companies have a Trade Show division that will be happy to work with you on tracking,scheduling, and delivery dates.

    Best regards,

    Ethan Chastain

  3. Thanks a lot for this piece of article. Getting hyper is not the solution in case you loose your stand. Stay calm…things can still get better. Deflecting it with humor is the best solution I feel.

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