5 Trade Show Survival Tips

At Marketing Plus we pride ourselves in our 30+ years of experience in the marketing industry. As a full-service marketing company, we offer a wide variety of services to our clients, including a specialty of ours: tradeshow management. Over the course of a year we coordinate and/or attend over 20 tradeshows, conferences, symposiums and events.

At the helm of all our trade show/event planning is Alison Allwine. She specializes in trade show management and event coordination. We asked her to give us her 5-point trade show survival tips to give you a less stressful trade show experience.


Get things done early. Save yourself a ton of money by meeting early deadlines for booth services, advanced warehouse, and booking flights early. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you have all your ducks in a row. Get in a day early and leave later the day after the show to give yourself a bumper to handle any issues that may arise.


No matter how well you planned, trade shows always adhere to Murphy’s Law; whether it’s your booth’s display getting mis-delivered on the show floor, something arrives broken or damaged, POS that you mailed to the hotel is M.I.A., flights are delayed or the hotel can’t find your reservation even though you have a confirmation number; we’ve seen it all. Stay calm and ask as many questions as you need to in order to get things resolved. Here’s where it benefits you to hire a tradeshow coordinator. We handle ALL of the little things so that you can hit the floor, worry-free to sell and network.


We always encourage clients to dress as a team- some will wear matching, coordinated polos for smaller shows or similar dress shirts and ties for those bigger shows/conferences. Be sure you have up-to-date business cards at the ready and hit the floor! Don’t stay stuck in your booth. Get out and walk the floor. Not only do you have a chance to take a look at what your competitors are doing and see what does (and sometimes doesn’t) work for them; you can be seen. You’ll find lots of opportunities to catch retailers and distributors in a casual setting and touch base or invite them by your booth for a sample or a longer chat. Touching base with a client a couple times, with a low-pressure approach will help you stand out.


No matter how great your show went, everyone is excited about tear-down and sliding off to the bar or closing-night mixers/parties. Make this process a little easier by reviewing the show’s closing packet when your receive it. Show staff will usually drop it off not too long after the show floor opens on the last day. Check to make sure all your charges are correct – if not, this is the time to dispute them, before the lines get long at the show’s end. This is also the time to fill out any shipping paperwork, get your labels printed and if you have any donation products in your booths, be sure you have enough food bank stickers for your donations. Don’t let all of your team dip out on you! Make sure you have a game plan for dismantling your booth- who will stay, who packs up, who arranges shipping. It’s a huge relief to arrange your shipping before you even get to the show. Make round-trip arrangements with your preferred shipper, slap your labels on and get to that happy hour! Also be sure to take a thorough inventory of your booth to make prepping for your next show easier.


Once you get home, the real fun starts- final invoices! Make certain you keep all of your travel show receipts together so you aren’t searching for tiny scraps of paper when the accountant comes knocking. Final charges for things like shipping, hotel bill, drayage, warehousing and services will begin to pop up on your credit card. A quick phone call and you’ll have invoices but the sooner you call, the better. Inspect your shipping containers as soon as they are received and at your storage facility. A claims process can be lengthy and complicated but it is worth it given most shipping crates/containers cost upwards of $600 for a 10×10.


Featured photo: Julie & Alison with Well Pict Berries’ VP of Marketing Jim Grabowski at The National Grocer’s Association show in Las Vegas, February 2017


For more information on the M+ tradeshow experience, give us a call at 559.840.2393.

By: Alison Allwine, Trade Show Coordinator