How to Plan for a Trade Show

August 12, 2022 Jessica Stewart

Do you have a trade show coming up? Are you feeling overwhelmed by preparations?

Don't let trade show booth ideas, planning, and setup be your nightmare anymore. In this free guide, you'll learn trade show best practices to help you have a successful trade show experience. 

Discover what it takes to maximize your trade show attendance. From knowing where the food trucks are to mapping out your action plan for the week, we've got everything covered in this guide. Read on to learn more!

What is the Purpose of A Trade Show?

A trade show is a meeting of manufacturers and other sellers who come together at an exhibition hall to showcase their gadgets and products.

In 2021, over 11.5 million professionals attended trade shows worldwide. Before the pandemic, trade shows were even busier! Trade shows take many different forms, from film festivals to manufacturing industry expos.

The main purpose of a trade show is to showcase something new or introduce existing products and technologies to clients. Some trade shows are business to business, while others are open to the general public. 

Make Sure You Have Everything Ready

Make sure to plan ahead and have everything ready for your trade show.

The first thing to do is determine what your goal is for the trade show. Is it to make connections with other companies? Is it to meet potential clients? Determine this goal and then start planning out what you will need.

We have put together a list of things you need to prep for your trade show booth:

- Make sure that the booth is ready and set up in advance.

- Make sure that you have the right signage (business name, product names)

- Have enough staff members on hand to answer questions or resolve issues

- Be aware of what you will be giving away as giveaways (e.g. pens) and have more on hand than you anticipate needing 

On the Ground: Stay on Schedule

Trade show time management is a crucial part of any trade show. The success of your booth depends on how well you stay on schedule.

The first step to staying on schedule is to create an accurate timeline for your event. Decide what you want to accomplish at the trade show. This will help you know when to start and end each activity at the show. 

You should also keep in mind the time it takes to travel from one end of the floor to another. Don't waste valuable time walking back and forth across the hallways.

After creating your timeline, make sure that every team member knows their responsibilities and what they need to do at each stage of the event. You should also have a plan for what happens if something goes wrong or if someone becomes unavailable during the event.

Arrive early so that you can set up your trade show exhibit before the crowds arrive, and make sure that everything is in order before your first meeting with a potential client.

Getting Around: Know Where Things Are

Trade show organizers are always looking for ways to make it easier for attendees and exhibitors to get around the event and find what they need.

Trade show organizers have begun to install food trucks near the event so that there is a quick and easy option for hungry attendees. Some events also cater food or have an on-site cafeteria. 

Hotels near trade shows are popular because they often run specials for trade show attendees. You may need to book early in order to get a good rate and a location close to the show.

Trade show parking is another important consideration when planning an event. Make sure to know where you are allowed to park, and where the most affordable and safest parking is located. 

Load-in areas are often located outside of the building or on a different floor than the main exhibit hall, so trade show exhibitors can unload their products without disturbing attendees inside of the show. 

Knowing where amenities and services are ahead of time can help your trade show experience run much smoother. 

Meeting & Networking with Vendors and Attendees

Networking at a trade show is like networking anywhere else. You will want to make sure you are friendly and outgoing. 

The best way to start networking at a trade show is to find out who the exhibitors are and what they are displaying. This is a good way to start conversations with vendors and attendees.

There are various ways of meeting with vendors at trade shows. You can attend their presentations and ask questions, visit their booths and chat with them, or set up meetings on the day before or after the event.

You should also be prepared to talk about yourself and your company in case you are asked. It’s important to have business cards on hand so that you can exchange contact information with other people you meet at the event.

Networking is a very important aspect of business development. It helps you connect with new clients, find potential partners, and make valuable connections that will help your business grow in the future.

Welcome Home! Now What? Recover and Reflect on the Show

It is important to take a step back and reflect on the trade show experience. It is not enough to just have a presence at a trade show, it is also important to evaluate what went well and what did not.

Some of the things you can do are:

- Evaluate booth attendance metrics. How many people visited your booth? What were their demographics?

- Follow up on networking connections. Did you make any new connections at the show? Who did you meet with? What was the outcome of these meetings? Write down contact information and follow up with them in a few weeks or months.

- Evaluate your presentation and exhibit materials. What worked well? What didn't work so well or needs improvement?

- Write a post-show analysis report. This is a written report that summarizes your trade show experience and metrics. 

Successful Trade Shows

As you can see, there's a lot of work that goes into having a good trade show exhibit. If you begin planning early and cover all of your bases, you'll have a smooth experience that results in lots of great networking opportunities.

Are you an event planner looking for the best event planning trade show in the United States? The 2022 Event Planner Expo is coming soon! Tickets are going fast, so make sure to register today!

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