Trade Show Best Practices

Preparing for a trade show of any scale can be a daunting task, but with these trade show best practices, you can be well prepared setting you up for trade show success.

Late last year, we starting planning for one of our clients to be an exhibitor
at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, TX in April 2023. Since the trade show was in Houston, and we are located in Toronto, we got to work right away. We immediately discussed what trade show elements we needed as an exhibitor, but in navigating through those elements there were other things that we learned along the way. From our experience in planning for this trade show, we wanted to share some best practices that we learned. 

Clear Communication 

When preparing for any trade show, it is important to communicate as clearly as possible, whether that be with the client, trade show support, internal teams or even third party vendors. In this particular case, since our client was travelling from Canada to the US for the trade show, it was imperative that all communication was clear. One of the most efficient ways to do this, was to create a shared drive where confirmations, receipts and even an itinerary were stored, that way the client and all parties involved had access to all relevant information that affected their role in preparing for the trade show as well as clear communication as to the run of events. 

Managing Third Party Vendors 

Managing third party vendors is always a challenge. In this case, we were using third party vendors to create our marketing and sales assets. We used a t-shirt printing company to print t-shirts for our team to wear on the trade show floor. It was important to communicate our delivery deadlines as well as the quality and quantity of shirts that we were looking for. 

The bigger challenge was managing the expectations of our client and the finished product of our print materials- an 8×10 media wall and a pull up banner. These assets were imperative to the overall look and feel of our booth, so it was integral to ensure that the client was happy with the end result. In the beginning, we were acting as the conduit between the client and the graphic designer. This worked well at the start in communicating the dimensions, delivery deadlines and any additional hardware requirements, however when it came to the overall design we found that it was easier to connect the graphic designer and the client directly to ensure that expectations were met. Once we had a meeting to discuss the design, the designer was able to deliver the finished product quickly and with minimal revisions. Our recommendation is that when it comes to anything graphic design related, go to the source right away, it will not only save you time, but money as well. 

Transparent Budget

Trade shows can be costly, especially if you are acting as an exhibitor so it is integral that you start your planning process with a clear understanding of what the budget is. We created a rough budget from the beginning to ensure that the client knew exactly what was required to attend the conference as an exhibitor and what the cost would be. From there, we narrowed in on our budget with fixed costs based on the outreach we did to various vendors we needed to make sure our exhibitor presence was successful. We provided various quotes for items such as t-shirts, printing costs and graphic design to ensure we satisfied the client from a budgetary perspective. For every expense that came forward, we double and triple checked with the client before processing a payment. Additionally, we collected all invoices and receipts and compiled them into one shared folder for clear and easy access over trade show related expenses. 

Planning for a trade show of this scale can be overwhelming, but if you stick with these best practices and continue to revisit your check-list you can plan and execute your trade show presence with ease. When the trade show ends, it is always important to regroup with your team and those involved to discuss what went well, what didn’t and where improvements can be made. This will not only help you learn from your mistakes, but also set you up for success in attending trade shows in the future. For more information or support around planning your presence at a trade show, connect with us.

Trade Show Best Practices