Seven Trade Show Booth Horrors and How to Avoid Them

October 31, 2019

Just about everyone has a nightmare scenario when it comes to trade shows. After all, exhibiting successfully at a trade show involves a million details and a host of vendors all coming together according to plan. So, just in time for Halloween and the 2020 marketing planning season, The Tradeshow Network Marketing Group offers seven true-to-life horror stories that you should plan to avoid.

trade show nightmare1. Your booth is located as far from the show entrance as possible.

If your exhibit location is bad, it may be because you didn’t reserve booth space at last year’s show. The most competitive shows fill up the best spots quickly. Booth space allocations may also be based on how long your company has been exhibiting at that show and the size of the space you reserve. Be sure to reserve your booth space as early as you can and ask for your desired location.  It may pay to reserve a larger space next year if it is a very important show for your company.

2. Your exhibit is missing.

You walk to your booth space a couple of hours before the show opens and suddenly realize you forgot to tell your exhibit company to ship the booth. It has happened.  The best way to avoid it is to communicate your show schedule for the entire year, if at all possible, so that everything can be scheduled and shipped in advance. The need for advance planning is particularly important if you are renting your exhibit and want to make sure that the same exhibit properties will be available next year when you need them.

3.  The exhibit materials don’t fit the space.

Now you see there is a difference between an island booth and a peninsula booth. Or you notice that the ceiling over your booth is lower than the rest of the hall, so that extra-large banner you brought won’t work. You should always read the show rules and make sure you understand them long before the display is designed, although even that may not be enough. It helps to check and double-check with everyone involved. When in doubt, call the show manager and ask for specifications for your exact space.

4. Your pre-show service orders have not been filled.

You sent in the forms with your check before the deadline, but now you are last in line to try to get electric and other show services before the doors open. Yes, it’s possible to do everything right and still end up in a panic. We recommend that you always submit a corporate credit card, even if you plan to pay by check. The big convention centers will not provide any services without a credit card to guarantee payment. It also helps to call to make sure your order has been received, especially if you have not received a confirmation by email.

5. You don’t have the right equipment to show your new video.

You ordered the TV monitor and you brought your laptop, but you can’t get the presentation to play. We have seen this happen over and over again. It could be something as simple as the wrong cable. Or it could be that you forgot to order all the equipment you need, like a DVD player. When ordering a/v equipment, make sure you have everything you need before you get there. You can also test out your presentation on an array of show equipment at our offices before you go to the show.

6.  Your product samples and brochures have disappeared.

You know they were there when you left the booth last night, but they are not there now. It’s amazing how things that don’t seem particularly valuable to anyone outside your company can just disappear. Sometimes materials are stolen. Sometimes boxes are pitched out. When the show is over, take any boxes to be shipped to the customer service counter or put them in locked cabinets to be shipped with your booth. Don’t assume any boxes will be picked up for shipment if you leave them on the show floor.

7. You were hit with extra shipping charges that blow your budget.

You receive an unhappy surprise in the mail. You had budgeted for shipping but the actual invoice is double the amount you expected. Usually, such charges relate to shipping direct to the convention hall rather than to the advance warehouse. If you have had to put a rush on anything, such as new graphics or last-minute shipping, prepare to pay extra. We recommend that you work closely with your exhibit firm throughout the year, so that your display can be scheduled to ship in advance to avoid unnecessary rush charges.

We hope we haven’t scared you too much, but that you understand that you can save a lot of money and headaches when you plan ahead.  To help you map out your schedule a year in advance, we have developed The Trade Show Manager’s Deadline Tracker - click below to download the file.

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