How to Thrive – Not Just Survive – During Trade Show Season.

Spring is just around the corner, and with that comes full-swing trade show season. Whether you are a Marketing Director of a business participating in trade shows, an event planner, or a tradeshow attendee, you are most likely feeling a lot of anticipation right now. Some of those feelings may even include being overwhelmed. Here, we put together some tips on how to navigate a busy trade show season successfully. 


Just Say No to Trudging Through Trade Show Season


We all know the feeling. Looking at the calendar and panicking because a trade show that was seemingly eons away is suddenly just around the corner. Thriving during trade show season requires:


  • Ample pre-planning
  • Calm under pressure
  • Stamina


Let’s dive deeper into each of these. 


Pre-planning for a successful trade show (or shows) is a necessity. This isn’t something you can just wing and hope for the best. Each show is a big investment for a business, so you always want to put your best foot forward. So how do you do this with back to back shows, schedules to follow, deadlines to meet, and last but not least travel arrangements?


  1. Plan ahead by thoroughly organizing each to-do for each show in order of deadlines. This way, nothing can get missed, like the deadline for that extra ad space in the show guide you forgot you paid for. Trade shows are all about deadlines. Applications, staffing, hotel reservations, booth design, getting materials to the exhibit site – all of these are attached to a hard date. Stay organized, and get help doing so if you need it!
  2. Know the show! Way before each show, get to know the audience that will be there, and set some goals for the event. This is where you can find your ROI. Create the type of exhibit space that people will want to visit because it speaks to them. This goes for anything from a 6ft table display to a 1200 square foot +, intricate space. Create messaging specific to each show and each unique venue to really hit the ball out of the park. 
  3. Delegate and assign roles as necessary. One person can’t do everything. You can try, but you most likely will quickly get burned out, frustrated, and understandably commit some human error. Or you are one of those unicorn types, hard to find people who will just magically get it done. Most likely it will be the former. It is important to split up the roles and tasks so that every minute detail of a trade show can get done properly. 


Which brings us to our next point.


Calm under pressure is something that a staff member dealing with a busy trade show season must exercise. This goes for everyone from the CEOs who are flying into events to make serious business decisions, to the trade show “waterboy” – ie: the person who is ubering (in a foreign city) to the local Office Depot for poster-size paper they forgot to send to the show. Trade shows are a lot of pressure for everyone. Don’t forget to have fun. No one wants to come into an exhibit where all of the staff seems miserable and dragging their feet. Take on the challenge and run with it!


And finally…


You’re going to need some stamina. Lots of industries foster a heavy show schedule. Many include back-to-back events with the same people going from show to show. We get it, road warriors, you just want to get back home to your family and friends and kick back in sweats, with your favorite beverage, on your couch. How can you help yourself stay sane when your days are filled with handshakes and small talk; and evenings with business events, cocktail parties, and speaker engagements? 


  • Carve out some time for you. It may seem impossible, but it can be done. You don’t have to say yes to every last thing. Take a walk around the city, go to your hotel’s gym, or watch your favorite movie before bed. This is assuming you aren’t stuck with a roommate from your company who has blatantly different taste than you. In that case, we recommend that walk we talked about. 
  • Keep having fun. Mindset is everything. You never know what kind of connections you may make at a trade show that can lead to a life changing experience for your business or for you personally. 
  • Make sure to get plenty of rest, eat good food, and don’t go (too) crazy at those open bar events. 


Let’s Make it a Great Trade Show Season 


This trade show season, let’s be grateful that in-person shows are coming back full swing, and we once again have the opportunity to travel, meet new people, and learn. After all, tradeshows are all about bettering the industries we work so hard in. Here’s to making it count!

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