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The ultimate guide to booking and exhibiting at your first trade show!

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Trade shows serve as an invaluable platform for businesses to showcase their products and services, connect with potential customers, and build brand awareness. However, participating in a trade show requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a successful and impactful presence. In this blog, we will explore the essential items and considerations companies should keep in mind when attending their first trade show.

Booking a stand

Booking a stand at a trade show is a critical step in ensuring your company's presence at the event. Understanding the available options and making informed decisions can significantly impact your trade show experience.

Trade show organisers typically offer different stand types to accommodate exhibitors with varying needs and budgets. The two primary options are:

Shell Scheme: A shell scheme stand provides a pre-built booth structure with walls, carpeting, and basic lighting. This option is suitable for exhibitors seeking convenience and simplicity, as it minimises the need for extensive setup. Shell scheme stands often come with a standard package of furniture, such as tables and chairs. They are a popular choice for first-time exhibitors or those with limited resources.

Space Only: Space-only stands offer exhibitors a blank canvas to design and build their booths from scratch. This option allows for greater customization and creativity, as you have the freedom to create a unique booth layout that aligns with your brand identity. Space-only stands are ideal for companies looking to make a significant visual impact and have the resources and expertise to create a standout booth design.

Shell schemes and space only come in various sizes, ranging from small booths to expansive exhibits. Consider your budget, marketing goals, and the nature of your products or services when determining the appropriate stand size. Smaller stands typically cost less, making them a more budget-friendly option, but they may be located in less busy areas of the event floor. Larger stands, while more expensive, offer increased visibility and the opportunity to create immersive experiences for attendees.

Stand location plays a crucial role in attracting foot traffic and maximising exposure. Prime spots, such as near entrances, main thoroughfares, or popular attractions within the trade show, tend to receive higher visitor traffic. However, these prime locations often come at a premium price.

Consider your budget and marketing objectives when deciding between a more prominent location versus a cost-saving option in a less busy area. Keep in mind that effective booth design, engaging marketing materials, and proactive engagement with attendees can compensate for a less central location.

It is advisable to book your stand as early as possible to secure a desirable location and take advantage of early bird discounts offered by trade show organisers. Popular trade shows often have limited availability, and the best spots tend to get reserved quickly. By booking early, you increase your chances of securing a prime location and can better plan your booth design and marketing strategies well in advance.

Production Requirements

When you are booking your stand you will also be asked to book additional production requirements. These can also be added later.

Power Supply: Determine if you need access to a power source for your booth. Some trade show organisers provide power outlets, while others may require you to pay an additional fee or bring your own generator. Plan accordingly to avoid any last-minute inconveniences.

Wi-Fi Connectivity: In today's digital age, having a stable internet connection is vital. Check if the venue offers Wi-Fi connectivity or arrange for a portable hotspot if necessary. This will enable you to showcase online demos, conduct real-time interactions, and stay connected with your team.

When booking a stand for a trade show, carefully consider your budget, objectives, and desired level of customization. Whether you opt for a shell scheme or a space-only stand, prioritise creating an engaging booth design and leveraging effective marketing strategies to attract attendees and make a memorable impact at the event.

Health and safety

When exhibiting at a trade show, there are also several health and safety concerns that need to be taken into consideration.

Ensure that the venue adheres to relevant safety regulations, has proper emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and accessible pathways for people with disabilities.

Design your stand in a way that minimises potential hazards. Avoid sharp edges, unstable structures, or any elements that could cause injuries. Secure all displays and equipment to prevent accidents.

If your booth requires electrical equipment, ensure that all electrical installations comply with safety standards. Use grounded outlets, manage cables properly, and consider using surge protectors.

Avoid overcrowding your booth, maintain clear pathways, and monitor the number of people allowed inside at any given time to prevent accidents.

Promote good hygiene practices by providing hand sanitizers, tissue paper, and waste disposal bins in your booth. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, especially high-touch areas, to reduce the spread of germs.

If you offer food or beverages at your booth, follow food safety guidelines. Ensure proper storage, handling, and hygiene practices are in place to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Protect valuable assets by securing your booth during off-hours. Lock away expensive equipment and merchandise, and consider using surveillance cameras or hiring security personnel if needed.

Remember, these are general considerations, and it's important to familiarise yourself with specific health and safety guidelines provided by the trade show organisers.

Making your stand appealing

Now that you have booked your stand you need to make a list of things you need to make your stand successful. Whether you have chosen a shell scheme or space only take the below into consideration.

To make your booth visually appealing and stand out among the sea of exhibitors, invest in high-quality pull-up banners and displays. These portable and eye-catching marketing tools help communicate your brand identity and key messages. Ensure that your banners and displays feature attractive visuals, concise messaging, and essential information about your company.

Utilising audiovisual (AV) equipment can significantly enhance your booth's appeal and engage attendees. Consider the following AV requirements:

Showcase promotional videos, product demonstrations, or customer testimonials on a large screen or TV. This interactive element can leave a lasting impression on visitors and draw them to your booth.

Depending on the event's size and venue, you may require speakers or sound systems to amplify audio content and ensure that your presentations or videos can be heard clearly amidst the noise.

Arriving on site

Arriving early at the trade show venue is crucial to ensure a smooth setup process. Ensure you and your team have high vis and safety boots or you may not be allowed on site.

Depending on the venue's guidelines, you may have a specific unloading and loading time window. Pre-book a suitable vehicle for transporting your booth materials and ensure that it aligns with the allotted time frame. This helps avoid unnecessary delays and overcrowding.

If feasible, bring a team of dedicated staff members who can assist with booth setup and organisation. Assign specific roles to each team member to streamline the process and ensure everything is in place before the event starts.

Bring a trolley! One of our top tips is to bring a trolley to help carry items to your stand as most venues are vast.

Ensure you collect your exhibitor badges to allow you to enter the exhibition on show days.

Attending a trade show can be an excellent opportunity for companies to showcase their offerings, network with industry professionals, and establish their brand presence.

Remember booking the right stand type and size, considering the location, and early booking are crucial factors for success. Additionally, production requirements such as power supply and Wi-Fi connectivity should be arranged in advance. Creating an appealing booth with high-quality marketing materials and incorporating audiovisual elements can attract attendees. Arriving early, pre-booking a vehicle, and assembling a dedicated team are essential for a smooth setup process. Prioritising health and safety measures and promoting good hygiene practices is also important. By taking these steps, companies can make a memorable impact at trade shows, connect with potential customers, and achieve your objectives.

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