Trade Show Troubleshooting

You have your exhibit space booked, your display stands and products ready and your staffing sorted. As the trade show opening day approaches – what can go wrong?

Unfortunately, quite a few things.

Planning ahead is key to troubleshooting any potential problems at a trade show. To help make your next event a success, we have put together a top 10 list of issues you may face so you can minimise the impact of often unforeseen trade show exhibitor trip hazards.

1. Forgetting products
The best way to eliminate this problem is to write a comprehensive list of things to take to the trade show and check them off as they go into the car or truck. This list should include EVERYTHING, from your larger banners and furniture, to display stands, your pop up display, pens, name tags and even items such as extension cords and cable ties!

If you do get to the event and find you have forgotten something, there is no point in panicking. See if you can find a local store to purchase or rent exhibit systems or display items, or there may even be a friendly neighbouring exhibitor who can lend you some accessories for the duration.

2. Your display is damaged
What a horrible feeling, to get to your trade show venue, ready to set up, only to find your brand new expo wall has been damaged! Sadly, there is nothing much you can do at that point except try to patch the damage as best you can. Always pack some transparent adhesive tape, scissors, markers and glue with you to minimise the appearance of any breaks or scratches.

3. Tech issues
This is one problem that is bound to happen at some point! Always carry a charger for your phone and tablets, and check your digital displays are working before you leave. Never assume you will have access to wifi unless the organisers have specifically promised it. It always pays to bring a backup data source regardless. If you do encounter tech problems, track down the event contact or business services kiosk for assistance.

Trade Show Troubleshooting
Trade Show Troubleshooting

4. Your trade show supplies don’t arrive in time
Ensuring you have all of your display items and promotional material on time is one of the biggest stressors for trade show exhibitors. To start with, order your exhibit systems well in advance and stay on top of updates throughout the process.

If you have everything ready but for some reason it doesn’t arrive at the intended location on setup day – get on the phone and get answers. Your trade show display items may have been accidentally shipped to the wrong place, or there may have been a delay in pickup. Either way, talk through the time-sensitive nature of the job with your courier or transport company and stay onto it until your items are safely in sight.

5. Staffing problems
This common trade show exhibits problem refers to both under- as well as over-staffing. It can be challenging to predict the crowds at trade shows, even when you have data from previous years or can make assumptions based on conditions such as the weather or public holidays. Where possible, take a couple of backup staff members or recruit a local expert who can help out at short notice if the trade show proves busier than expected or one of your regular staff members becomes unwell. In the event you have too many staff, trade shows make fantastic networking events. Get them out mingling and talking to the crowd as well as other stallholders. Make sure they keep their uniform and badge on at all times.

6. Poor data management
Collecting leads is critical for a successful trade show investment, so make sure your data collection is up to scratch and is easily accessible after the event. Prospective clients or other interested individuals must provide consent for you to record their details and whichever way you choose to do it, those details need to be secure. Some trade show exhibits have a simple written opt-in, or others may utilise technology on-hand to guide visitors through a short survey or quiz. Always follow up on leads!

7. Over-enthusiastic sales techniques
No-one likes to be ambushed by over-zealous exhibit staff who can’t wait to share their pitch. Instead, aim to draw attendees in with well-crafted exhibit systems and eye-catching displays, as well as demonstrations and giveaways to sweeten the deal.

8. Your exhibit is not attracting attention
If your best efforts at drawing a crowd aren’t working, don’t be afraid to move a few things around within your space to make it more inviting. Ask neighbouring exhibitors for their opinion, and have a look around at what others are doing too. Simply moving a pop up display to the forefront or making more room to welcome visitors in could be the key to added traffic. If it is a multi-day trade show, brainstorm with your staff to come up with creative ways to enhance your exhibit the next day.