Scoring Big at Your Next Trade Show

by: Lisa Campolmi

Last month, we joined several of our tourism clients in Anaheim, CA, to participate in International Pow Wow, or IPW, an international inbound travel trade show. This is truly a show, with an abundance of exiting exhibits, interactive activities and over-the-top booths.

So how do you score big with this kind of competition? Below are six common denominators we observed in the best booths that you can apply to your next trade show event to make it your best yet.

Handle details early

Make sure you have relevant details on set-up times, booth space, marketing deadlines, badges, etc. Keep important paperwork handy and have a system for who is in charge of what. Try to set up your booth early and have time to rest before the event starts so you feel refreshed and ready to meet new people.

Clarify your goals

What are you hoping to get out of your trade show? How will you measure success? Will it be from appointments for the future, leads to follow up with at a later date or perhaps just emails to add to your newsletter list? Clearly define only one or two goals of the trade show and create a plan of attack to reach them.

Make your space extra special

What do you want your space to say to visitors who see it? Are you showing off a product, selling a concept, or creating a mood? Perhaps you want to encourage attendees to watch a demonstration. Make sure your booth is welcoming, not too cramped, and interactive for your attendees. Keep it organized, tidy and well stocked with any visitor giveaways or collateral.

Be brand ambassadors

Everyone in your booth should be well versed on the goals of the show, the topics that you want highlighted with each attendee, and a warm and welcoming personality. Make sure your frontline team is outgoing and professional. Make personal connections with booth visitors a priority and avoid having staff lurking in the background on their phones.

Stand out giveaways

You don't always need to hand out something at trade shows, however promotional giveaways and contests are always a big hit and drive traffic to your booth. Make sure giveaways are good quality and match the lifestyles of the attendees. Promotional items that fit the theme of the show (we had unique VW Bus USB drives with headlights that turn on) seem to get more use when your attendee goes home. If you offer collateral along with promotional materials, make sure to have enough on hand for everyone that visits your booth.

Follow up, follow up, and follow up

The biggest mistake most businesses make after a tradeshow is putting off the attendee follow-up. Whether you have a stack of business cards you have collected or a list of emails waiting to be added to your newsletter list, maximize your investment by making the contact with that visitor a priority. Thank them for stopping by while reiterating your enthusiasm for meeting them.

If you follow all these simple steps, your business will grow the results of your annual trade shows. The investment in tradeshows is big, from time spent to booth design and collateral. Use these tips to see your return on investment soar.

Lisa Campolmi

Media and Research Strategist

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