How to host a trade show event

Expert Guide on How to Host a Trade Show

Trade shows are making a grand comeback, shaking off the virtual shadows cast by the pandemic. If you’re gearing up to host a trade show, you’ve probably realized it’s no small feat. Hosting a successful trade show requires a blend of meticulous planning, strategic marketing, and flawless execution. At LivePicture Displays, we’ve distilled the essence of trade show success into ten actionable tips, including how to maximize your 10 x 10 video display to create a striking visual impact. Follow these guidelines to ensure your trade show leaves a lasting impression.

1. Secure a Prime Booth Location

Just like hunting for a new home or opening a business, choosing the right booth location is crucial for your trade show success. Most trade shows today charge the same per square foot regardless of location, though some may have a surcharge for premium spots. Regardless, my best advice: choose early and get the best spot you can for your trade show dollars.

Tips to Secure the Best Booth Space

Know Your Goals: What are your goals for exhibiting? Do you need lots of traffic, or are you there to support your brand and reputation? Understanding your objectives will guide you in choosing the optimal location using the best trade show marketing efforts:

  • For high traffic: Identify where people flow through the hall and which booths get the most volume.
  • For visibility: Pick a booth that is easy to spot or where signage will be the most effective.

Choosing the Right Trade Show Location

Premium Spaces: Premium and popular booths are typically located at corners, the front of the hall, and on major cross-traffic aisles. These spots are often perceived as prestigious, with larger booths at the front being highly sought after. However, your booth preference might vary:

  • Near washrooms or food concessions for high foot traffic.
  • Close to business partners like key suppliers or distributors.
  • Near competitors or main entrances for strategic positioning.

Choose the Right Size Booth Space: Booth locations are drawn up by show management based on the previous year’s show. Secure the optimal booth size that you need by considering your company’s future growth. If a 20 x 20 ft. booth suits your needs, choose that. Over-buying space is safer than underestimating your needs, which could force you to relocate to a less desirable spot.

The Power of Partnerships: If renting a large booth isn’t feasible, consider partnering with a similar-sized company to share an island booth. These booths offer flexibility, multiple corners, and often no height limits, allowing for high visibility.

Know Your Territory: While at the show, take pictures of the floor plan and surrounding booths, and consider how incorporating trade show display rentals can enhance your setup. Be aware of obstructions like control panels, support poles, fire stations, and emergency exits. Note the traffic flow, preferred booth numbers, and nearby competitors. Get an updated floor plan to check for any changes from the previous year.

Locating in Your Zone: Many trade shows create zones or pavilions with companies offering similar products or services. Locating near competitors can be beneficial for attracting the right kind of visitors. Being in close proximity but out of direct sight-line from competitors can encourage visitors to wander between booths freely.

Talk to Show Management: Show management can be a valuable resource. Start conversations early to understand how to secure a particular spot. Watch for last-minute cancellations and inquire about waiting lists for better booth spaces. Flexibility and frequent exhibiting increase your chances of landing a prime location.

2. Develop a Crisis Management Plan

A crisis management plan is essential for handling unexpected emergencies at trade shows, ensuring safety and minimizing damage. This strategy prepares your team to manage various risks professionally.

Crisis Management Team at a trade show event

Understanding Trade Show Crises

Crises can range from severe issues like pandemics, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and civil unrest to less severe problems like power outages and equipment malfunctions. Ignoring these risks can lead to severe public image damage and safety hazards.

Steps to Create a Crisis Management Plan

  1. Risk Assessment: Identify and prioritize potential risks based on severity and likelihood.
  2. Crisis Team Formation: Assemble a team with clear roles, including security, medical, technical support, and PR.
  3. Communication Plan: Develop internal and external communication strategies with pre-drafted messages for different scenarios.
  4. Emergency Procedures: Outline specific procedures for different crises, including evacuation routes and emergency contacts.
  5. Equipment and Supplies: Ensure emergency equipment is available and maintained.
  6. Training and Drills: Conduct regular training and mock drills for staff.
  7. Post-Crisis Evaluation: Review and update the plan after a crisis based on lessons learned.

Common Crisis Management Strategies

  • Pandemic Response: Implement health protocols and prepare for virtual event transitions.
  • Natural Disaster Preparedness: Have evacuation plans and coordinate with local authorities.
  • Security Threats: Work with venue security and law enforcement, implement access control and surveillance.
  • Technical Failures: Have backup equipment and train staff for troubleshooting.
  • Medical Emergencies: Ensure first aid stations and medical personnel are on-site with clear emergency procedures.

By having a robust crisis management plan, you can ensure your trade show runs smoothly, reinforcing your brand’s reliability and professionalism even in the face of unexpected challenges.

 

3. Train Your Booth Staff

Establish Trade Show Goals: Ensure everyone understands the specific goals for the show, such as upselling, generating leads, or promoting new products. Clear goals help align team efforts.

Provide Incentives: Keep staff motivated with daily goals and rewards. Pre-show meetings can boost team spirit and foster healthy competition.

Highlight Importance: Your staff are key brand ambassadors. Select team members with industry knowledge and presentation skills. Continuous training is crucial for both seasoned and new employees. Consider including technical experts like engineers or IT specialists.

 

Emphasize Etiquette: Teach booth etiquette, including engaging visitors quickly, reading body language, and maintaining a professional appearance. Ensure the booth is tidy and free of distractions.

Plan Follow-Ups: Assign team members to follow up with leads based on specific criteria to avoid overlap and ensure organized communication.

Additional Tips:

  • Schedule breaks to keep staff refreshed.
  • Practice product demos in advance.
  • Use open-ended questions to engage visitors.
  • Develop a system to handle opportunists.
  • Train staff on effective listening skills.

By focusing on these areas, your booth staff will be well-prepared to represent your brand effectively and achieve your trade show objectives. Download our Effective Trade Show Staff Training Guide for more detailed strategies.

4. Choose the Right Booth Size

Selecting the right booth size and layout is crucial for trade show success. Here’s a summary of key points:

Common Booth Sizes:

  • 10’x10’: Standard inline booth, cost-effective for small budgets.
  • 10’x20’ and 10’x30’: Offer more space, still inline.
  • Island Displays: Accessible from all sides, highly visible, typically 20’x20’ or larger, but expensive.
  • Peninsula Displays: Open on three sides, offering good visibility and access, typically 20’x20’, less costly than island booths.

Choosing the Best Layout:

  • Inline Booths: Cheapest option, good for first-timers or modest budgets, but less visible.
  • Island Displays: Maximize visibility and access, great for attracting attention, but costly.
  • Peninsula Displays: Balance between visibility and cost, open on three sides, not as tall as island booths.

Booth Size and Team Size:

  • Allocate 40 square feet per team member.
  • 10’x10’ booth fits 2-3 people.
  • 20’x10’ booth fits 5-6 people.
  • Avoid overcrowding to maintain an inviting space for attendees.

Trade Show Booth Size

By choosing the right booth size and layout based on your budget, goals, and team size, you can optimize your trade show presence and achieve better results.

5. Double-Check Equipment and Setup

Ensure all your equipment and setup are in perfect working order. From displays and photo booths to lead collection systems, everything should function seamlessly. Work with reliable service providers and conduct thorough checks before the event, considering the pros and cons of buying vs. rental trade show displays to optimize your setup.

By planning and sourcing your equipment early, including using cutting-edge trade show tech, you can avoid last-minute issues and enhance your trade show presence. Utilizing LivePictureDisplays can further elevate your booth with cutting-edge technology and engaging features.

Eye catching video display

6. Define Clear Objectives

Setting clear trade show objectives is essential. Here are summarized tips for effective goal-setting:

  1. Reflect on Past Performance: Analyze data from previous trade shows to identify successes and areas for improvement, and create an action plan for future events.
  2. Align with Business Objectives: Ensure trade show goals align with broader business objectives, such as increasing sales, brand awareness, or entering new markets.
  3. Set SMART Goals: Define Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals to guide your efforts and track progress.
  4. Prioritize Goals: Focus on the most crucial goals for your business, whether it’s boosting sales, building relationships, or increasing visibility.
  5. Balance Quantity vs. Quality: Aim for meaningful connections over sheer numbers, targeting leads that align with your ideal customer profile.
  6. Enhance Brand Visibility: Use attractive booth designs, effective marketing materials, and prime locations to boost brand awareness and positioning.
  7. Engage and Interact: Incorporate interactive elements like demos, games, and VR experiences to attract and engage attendees.
  8. Focus on Lead Generation and Conversion: Set goals for capturing and converting leads, using targeted marketing and prompt follow-ups.
  9. Evaluate Post-Event: Assess performance after the event, gather feedback, and analyze ROI to refine future goals.
  10. Adapt Throughout the Year: Remain flexible and adjust goals based on market changes and business needs to stay effective and responsive.

7. Incorporate Engaging Activities

Engaging activities, such as trade show entertainment ideas, are key to making your trade show booth stand out and leaving a positive impression. Here are some effective ideas:

  1. Social Media Raffle Encourage attendees to post using your hashtag and display the results on a large screen. Pick winners hourly to keep visitors engaged.
  2. Gaming Consoles Set up family-friendly gaming consoles to attract and entertain visitors, fostering social interaction and drawing crowds.
  3. Trivia Games Host trivia games with branded prizes to energize participants and create memorable interactions.
  4. Counting Games Simple guessing games facilitate conversations and engage visitors quickly.
  5. Prizes and Giveaways Provide branded items and larger rewards to incentivize booth visits and participation.
  6. Virtual Reality (VR) Incorporate VR experiences to offer immersive and interactive demonstrations of your products or services, creating a unique and memorable visitor experience.

VR and Games at a trade show event

By incorporating these activities, you can create a dynamic and engaging booth that attracts visitors and ensures a successful trade show presence.

Click the link to read an article more on depth about Trade Show Entertainment Ideas

 

8. Maintain a Positive and Energetic Atmosphere

The energy of your booth can significantly influence visitor perception. Keep the atmosphere upbeat and engaging:

  1. Select the Right Team
  • Hire experienced staff comfortable with trade show environments.
  • Choose team members with complementary personalities for a dynamic, approachable presence.
  1. Brief on Objectives
  • Align team efforts with company goals.
  • Set personal goals to motivate and keep team members focused.
  1. Know Your Target Audience
  • Develop audience personas to understand the market.
  • Train the team to tailor their engagement based on these personas.
  1. Rehearse the Attendee Journey
  • Train the team on guiding attendees through the customer journey.
  • Practice interactions to ensure smooth transitions.
  1. Integrate Contractors
  • Fully brief and integrate contractors into the team.
  • Set personal goals for contractors to align their efforts.
  1. Set Team Incentives
  • Link incentives to specific targets.
  • Encourage friendly competition with personal targets.
  • Make rewards visible and enticing.
  1. Display Positive Body Language
  • Maintain eye contact and smile to engage visitors.
  • Use open body language and listen actively.

Postive employees at a trade show event

By following these tips, you can ensure your booth team exudes positive energy, making your booth more attractive and engaging to visitors, ultimately boosting your trade show effectiveness.

9. Promote Your Exhibit

Effective promotion is crucial to attract visitors to your trade show booth. Gone are the days when a simple press release would suffice. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure your booth stands out:

Press Relations

  • Press Releases: Inform the press in advance about your trade show appearance and any highlights.
  • Product Reports: Provide detailed reports on the products you will showcase.
  • Press Folders: Prepare comprehensive press folders with all necessary information.
  • Press Conferences: Host press conferences to generate buzz and media coverage.

Leverage Social Media

  • Social Media Profiles: Use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your booth.
  • Corporate Blog: Tease key facts and figures about your appearance on your blog.
  • Targeted Ads: Use social media ads to reach your specific audience effectively.

Influencer Marketing

  • Collaborate with Influencers: Partner with bloggers and YouTube stars to tap into their reach and credibility.
  • Professionalism: Ensure influencers are professional and align with your brand values.

Online Appointments

  • Appointment Scheduling: Allow visitors to book appointments online in advance, increasing the likelihood they will visit your booth.

Use the Trade Show Platform

  • Exhibitor Listings: Utilize space on the trade show’s website to describe what visitors can expect at your booth.
  • Information Packages: Ensure your booth information is included in the visitor information packages handed out at the entrance.

Time-Limited Promotions

  • Exclusive Offers: Create time-sensitive promotions to draw visitors at specific times, such as offering gifts or exclusive consultations between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Hosting a successful trade show event

10. Follow-Up with Leads Promptly

Don’t let the momentum fade after the trade show. Have a solid lead management strategy in place to follow up with contacts quickly. Tools like our trade show trivia game, which integrates with online lead collection platforms, can streamline this process by eliminating manual data entry and ensuring timely follow-ups.

Effective follow-up is crucial to convert trade show contacts into valuable leads, which is essential for staying ahead of trade show trends. Here are key tips to ensure success:

  1. Follow Up Quickly
  • Prompt Action: Contact new leads as soon as possible to make a good impression and remain top-of-mind.
  1. Personalize Your Follow-Up
  • Tailored Messages: Personalize your follow-up messages to show genuine interest in developing a relationship, not just making a sale.
  1. Provide Value
  • Relevant Content: Include valuable content like white papers, case studies, or relevant collateral in your follow-up to address their specific needs and interests.
  1. Be Persistent
  • Consistent Contact: If you don’t hear back right away, follow up multiple times without being overly aggressive. Recognize when to pause if the lead isn’t currently ready or interested.
  1. Use Multiple Channels
  • Diversified Approach: Use various communication channels such as emails, phone calls, social media, and even direct mail to reach out to your leads.
  1. Segment Your Leads
  • Targeted Follow-Up: Segment your leads based on criteria such as their level of interest, industry, or the specific products they inquired about. Tailor your follow-up strategy to each segment.
  1. Track and Analyze Responses
  • CRM Integration: Use your CRM to track responses and interactions. Analyze this data to refine your follow-up strategy and improve future efforts.
  1. Schedule Follow-Up Reminders
  • Automated Reminders: Set reminders in your CRM or follow-up system to ensure timely follow-up with each lead. Automation can help maintain consistency and prevent leads from slipping through the cracks.
  1. Offer Next Steps
  • Clear Path Forward: Provide clear next steps in your follow-up messages, such as scheduling a demo, setting up a meeting, or inviting them to a webinar.
  1. Personal Touch
  • Handwritten Notes: For high-value leads, consider sending handwritten thank-you notes to add a personal touch and reinforce the relationship.

By following these tips, you can maximize the effectiveness of your trade show follow-up efforts, leading to better conversion rates and a higher return on investment.

Trade Show Success is Within Reach

Hosting a successful trade show is an intricate dance of planning, marketing, and execution. By setting clear objectives, choosing the right location and booth size, training your staff, incorporating engaging activities, and maintaining a positive atmosphere, you can make your trade show a resounding success. At LivePicture Displays, we’re here to help you create unforgettable trade show experiences. Ready to take your trade show to the next level? Visit LivePictureDisplays.com and let’s get started!

By mastering these essential tips, you’ll not only host a successful trade show but also pave the way for future business growth and industry recognition.

 

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