How to Prevent Surprises with Your Trade Show Display

December 2nd, 2016

Unexpected setbacks can threaten to derail an otherwise successful trade show display. From technology that is not supported to sick staffers, these problems must be anticipated and planned for if they are to be dealt with successfully. In order to avoid being taken aback by any issues that arise once you are at the trade show, here are a few steps you can take beforehand.

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Familiarize yourself with the space you have for your trade show display.

Reserving space is the first but not the only step you need to take to make sure that you have a functional exhibiting area for your trade show display. You also need to familiarize yourself with the specific features of the space that you reserve. For example, some spaces will have height restrictions in order to keep tall booths from interfering with the visibility of shorter trade show displays. Some spaces may have an odd shape or be in a darker area of the exhibit hall or share a wall with the neighboring space. All of these characteristics will influence the specific features you will need to incorporate into your trade show display. Without knowing what your booth space is like, it becomes difficult to build a truly effective exhibit. For example, you might build a booth that is too tall or the wrong shape and, therefore, create a trade show display that is difficult to use in your reserved area. In order to prevent these problems, discuss the booth space in depth with the event organizer before you reserve it, and consider walking through the space yourself before the event. Take the information you gain with you to your exhibit company so they can incorporate the features that will allow your trade show display to fit comfortably and effectively into the space that you have chosen.

SEE ALSO: Qualities to Look for in Trade Show Booth Design Companies

Read the trade show’s exhibitor guide regarding the rules for your trade show display.

Every trade show will have an exhibitor guide that you will receive once you reserve your booth space. This guide outlines all of the rules and regulations regarding the trade show that you will need to follow in order to successfully exhibit at the event. These exhibitor guides can be long. And, if you have exhibited in the past, you may feel as if you are already familiar with most of the rules they contain. However, not every trade show is the same, and the rules governing a trade show might change from year to year. For example, trade show display height restrictions might vary from show to show, as might the type of lighting allowed, the type of technology supported, and so forth. In order to avoid being caught off guard by unexpected regulations, take the time to read through the exhibitor guide as soon as you receive it. Note any rules that differ from what you are familiar with, and make sure your trade show display, whether one you are reusing or one you are currently building, meets those requirements.

Start planning your trade show display early.

It might be possible to grab a rental display from the nearest exhibit company, grab a couple of employees from their offices, and attend a trade show with only a few weeks’ notice. However, making last-minute decisions regarding trade show displays generally means that you will overlook some details. For example, as mentioned above, you may land in your exhibit space with little idea regarding whether or not your trade show display fits the regulations or your overarching goals for the event (if you have even had time to set goals). That is one of the reasons that, when purchasing a trade show display, it is wise to begin the process 4-6 months in advance. Some companies choose to reserve their booth space and begin planning for the trade show a full year ahead of time. This extensive early planning has a couple of benefits. First, it gives you time to familiarize yourself with the trade show and with your goals for that event. With those goals and information firmly in hand, you can then craft a more effective and focused trade show display. Second, it allows you to save money in the long run. For example, you can partake of lower costs for materials, labor, transportation, and trade show services for your trade show display when you know you will need them ahead of time. These savings can translate into you doing more with your money than you would have been able to otherwise. Third, it allows you to take the time to anticipate and prepare for any problems that might arise during your time at the trade show. For example, you can take time to select the right staff for the booth and train them. You can look into what your competition is doing so your trade show display can compete with them. You can handle setbacks in the design process without worrying about losing your window of opportunity to get the trade show display to the show on time.

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Pack an emergency trade show display kit.

Finally, preventing exhibit surprises means being ready for them. One of the fundamental keys to surviving surprises once you are at the trade show is to have an emergency trade show display kit at your disposal. These kits are collections of tools and resources that you put together and bring with you to help you handle any problems that come up. For example, if you find that you are missing one of the screws for your trade show display, a screwdriver and extra screws can make it a small annoyance instead of a big deal. A basic first aid kit can make it simple to deal with minor injuries. Kleenex and hand sanitizer can soothe an ill staffer and prevent the spread of infection, while cleaning supplies can make quick work of accidental spills.

Following is a list of some of the types of supplies you might consider packing in your emergency trade show display kit:

Cleaning supplies

Paper towels, carpet cleaner, cleaning wipes, etc.


Hammers, screw drivers, Allen wrenches, measuring tape, etc.

Contact lists

Office supplies

Pens, paper, stapler, scissors, business cards, glue, etc.

Extra exhibit pieces

Screws, light bulbs, etc.

Health and hygiene items

Kleenex, hand sanitizer, first aid kit, etc.


Preparing for and preventing trade show display surprises requires planning ahead. From familiarizing yourself with your exhibit space to reading the exhibitor guide to planning in advance to packing an emergency trade show kit, it is important to go to the trade show prepared. That way, you can have as peaceful and productive a time at the show as possible.