August 23, 2016 — There’s no doubt that setting up a successful trade show exhibition is a complicated process. It can be very easy for newcomers -or even seasoned vets- to underestimate the amount of logistics and things which need to be coordinated to pull off great trade show displays.
Simply put, there’s almost no such thing as “too much” pre-planning when it comes to trade shows. The effort you put in ahead of time is virtually assured to pay off when the actual show starts, either by having a superior display or by preventing problems which could have cropped up.
Today, we wanted to take a look at many of the common steps in planning for a trade show, especially ones which should happen weeks or even months in advance.
How to Prepare for a Trade Show:
Research your exhibition options.
Unless you have an unlimited budget, you’re going to have to be very selective about which shows you attend. At the beginning of the year, once you have your budget, do research on the major shows in your industry. Look at their attendance numbers, costs of exhibition and, if possible, reports from attendees of previous shows.
Generally speaking, you should know very early in the year which shows you’ll be planning on attending. The longer you put this off, the more difficult everything else becomes.
Source early, source often.
When it comes to issues such as sourcing suppliers, shipping companies, hotel rooms, etc., it’s hard to get started too early. Prices on these things will go up drastically the closer it gets to the day of the show. It might seem odd booking a hotel room six months in advance, but you will see huge savings compared to those trying to book at the last minute.
You’ll also be more likely to get prime locations and top service vendors near the show, which cuts down on costs as well.
Read the Manual/Contract
One of the biggest mistakes even veterans can make is failing to closely read the manual or contract associated with the exhibition space. These documents are often 100+ pages long and tedious, but they’re absolutely vital to a successful exhibition. Failure to adhere to the rules set by the exhibition can result in steep fines, or even being kicked off the show floor.
Pay particular attention to deadlines, because missing these can easily ruin the entire affair.
This should be done even before you start planning your display, because many of the regulations will address matters such as display height and maximum allowed power consumption. Knowing the regulations ahead of time means that you can plan for them throughout the process.
Pick clear goals for your booth.
Decide ahead of time what the main purpose(s) for your booth will be. Are you going to push specifically for sales? Grow contact networks? Be creative and aim for brand exposure?
The design of your booth will be in large part determined by these choices. A low-key booth with plenty of manpower could generate lots of sales, but probably won’t be talked about much. A big flashy sensory experience will end up in the highlight reels and blogs, but could be more of a “tourist attraction” than a sales-driving force at the show if not planned properly.
These can all be valid choices, but you can’t have it all. Pick a focus and work around it.
Be smart with your swag.
Going to a trade show without goodies to give away is like refusing to buy candy for Halloween. It might save a little money, but it’s going to disappoint a lot of visitors.
However, try to go beyond the standard pens, calculators and T-shirts. When you’re looking months down the road, you have plenty of time to get creative with your swag. Create products which either reinforce your theme, or will be legitimately useful to visitors so they don’t get thrown in the trash the next day. The more distinctive your swag is, the better the chances it will make a real impression on visitors.
Best Displays & Graphics Can Help!
If you’re looking to attend a show, but there’s just too much work to be done, Best Displays & Graphics has you covered. Our seasoned experts can craft a great trade show display to your standards and arrange for all the necessary logistics.