Setting the Stage for Your Trade Show: Expert Tips

expert tips for trade shows

The badges are lined up in alphabetical rows in the entry hall. The doors are opening. Trade show attendees are coming through, whether you’re ready or not. The last thing you want to be doing at this moment is anxiously rushing to finish preparing your booth. You want to be calm, collected, ready to connect with your audience — and this takes a thoughtful approach to setting the stage for your trade show.

When creating an immersive and engaging show, there are complex factors to consider, from shipping to signage to choosing the best show for your brand in the first place. Now you’re here at the main event. Installation on show site can cause major headaches regardless of your best intentions — here are some of our expert tips for trade shows to set you up for success.

Meet first thing in the morning on installation day

Setting the stage for your trade show takes getting organized and staying organized. Gather your show supervisor and all of your leads on the morning of the installation before it gets underway. Go over the schedule in as much detail as you can provide. If your team knows the order that you want everything to go up, they will follow it. Otherwise, it is left to leads to determine how your booth goes up, and it may not precisely match your plan. Pro tip: Bring coffee for everyone.

Lay the groundwork

Before the properties can get setup, the floor elements need to come first. This includes items like your base plates and carpet in addition to wiring for electricity, audiovisual cables and internet. Make sure you specify exactly in your service orders when you want this completed — typically, prior to your first day of install. If possible, have someone there when this happens to make sure it has been done properly. Make sure you are specific in stating your requested date and time for installation and dismantling in the contract and be sure to follow up repeatedly if changes are made.

Don’t schedule labor too early

If you haven’t shipped to the Advance Warehouse (which we recommend), you need to allow time for your freight to be delivered to your booth. There’s no guarantee that your truck will be called up and uploaded in time for your labor crew—it could possibly take the entire day.

As Group Delphi Account Director Cary Davis offers, “If my install time is 8am and I am shipping direct to the show, I will typically schedule labor crew to arrive just after lunch. And not the full crew—just enough people to position the baseplates, lay and channel the pad, put down flooring and assemble the hanging sign.” You don’t want your labor crew standing around waiting for your materials to arrive. They might like the paid break, but you will not.

Roll with it

Best-laid plans often go awry, to paraphrase the saying — but a truly well-laid plan expects the unexpected. Know in advance that not everything will always go like clockwork at every show, and you’ll be ready to improvise when a situation arises. Having a show supervisor who has seen it all before and knows the tricks of the trade can take a major weight off your shoulders. And when it’s show time? You don’t want anything weighing you down, you want to float around your exhibit with the serenity of Mona Lisa smiling back at the Louvre.

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