July 20, 2016 – Some trade show mistakes seem to get made over and over, especially by newcomers to the field. While it is inevitable that some mistakes will be made, that doesn’t mean they have to be the obvious ones!
Based on our experience at Best Displays & Graphics, here are the gaffes we see far too often, and how to correct them and stay within your trade show budget.
Eight Common Trade Show Display Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
- Not reading the manual.
Every trade show has an exhibitor’s manual or lengthy contract, or both, which spell out every regulation for exhibition in their provided space. This is not optional reading. We have seen far, far too many booths end up getting shut down because they ignored the regulations – especially ones regarding booth size, energy consumption, or Internet integration.
While reading them is tedious and annoying, someone has to read through and make notes on the restrictions which will affect your design.
- Not having contingency plans.
At trade shows it’s relatively rare for everything to go perfectly when setting up or throughout the day. Shipments get delayed. Accidents on the floor rip a banner. A frame gets bent. No matter what it is, the more contingency plans you have in place, the better it will be. At the very least, be sure the booth is equipped with a box of common tools, tape, paper & markers, and other objects that could create makeshift display materials if an emergency happens.
- Not budgeting for emergencies.
Besides the standard per diems for staff, there should still be a budget -and a good supply of petty cash- to cover whatever might come up during the show. You never know when you might need to buy a new iPad or rent a piece of display equipment or take care of other problems. Extra cash makes this much easier.
- Taking helpers and allies for granted.
Remember, it takes a LOT of people to make a trade show display come together, from your own staff to those hauling your equipment around to electricians certifying the booth. Being friendly towards them will go a long way, while being rude or short can easily create a bad reputation or even encourage misbehavior.
While it’s easy to get stressed at a trade show, you should never take it out on the people working on your booth in any capacity.
- Not haggling.
This usually happens when someone has handed off too much menial purchasing work to lower-level workers. The first price quoted for anything involving trade show displays is rarely, if ever, the final price. These should never be accepted without at least trying to get a discount.
And don’t forget bundling! Hiring one agency to do six jobs is virtually always going to be cheaper than hiring six one-job specialists.
- Pushing deadlines.
Again, on the theme of Murphy’s Law, extra time is very often needed when setting up trade show booths. Leaving things to the last minute doesn’t give you any wriggle room if problems occur. In fact, we tend to recommend you remove a day or two from the deadlines when communicating with staff and contracted services. If design work has to be finished by July 30, and you tell everyone July 28 instead, it’s far more likely to get done by the actual deadline.
- Not keeping staff in the loop.
Here’s another unfortunate scenario: A group of employees are chosen to man a booth, without having been part of the process until the last few days before the exhibition. This generally results in them wandering around the booth, looking lost and confused, possibly not even familiar enough with the materials to be of help.
Choose your preferred booth staff early, and make sure they’re part of the process of designing and targeting the booth. The more they understand the booth, the more effective they’ll be.
- Overworked and under-rewarded employees.
Working a trade show is hard work. While it might seem to some like the in-booth staff are getting a vacation, they definitely are not. They’ll be on their feet 8+ hours a day, talking with clients nonstop, and having to have their game faces on 100 percent of the time throughout.
Be sure they have plenty of breaks, reasonable shifts, lots of liquids, and good food. Take them out for a nice dinner after the show. Have rewards for your top performers. Rewards and appreciation will keep them motivated throughout.
Best Displays & Graphics Can Help
Need more advice on designing your trade show appearance? The team at Best Displays & Graphics has the expertise and experience to help design the display you’ve always wanted. We also provide furniture rental services, installation and dismantling and many more trade show options.
Contact Best Displays & Graphics today!