» 5 “Horrors” of Trade Shows



Even though it is Halloween, and the fright level is elevated, those involved with trade shows know that the real scares can come at any time of year. With the amount of money and time invested, any hitch can feel like a nightmare.

Here are five common “horrors” and how to avoid them:


1. Customs

We work in a global economy. Many companies are seeking new business outside of the states. A great way to get involved in international markets is by exhibiting in them. At some point boxes, crates or pallets from your company are going to have to clear customs. In some countries, this can truly be a roll of the dice, and I know some clients have lost their property permanently.

Clear this hurdle by being proactive. Talk to different freight companies and use one that is familiar with, and has personnel in the destination country. To make it easy for our clients we can research and sort out the right freight companies, but also can refer you to one of our partners whose expertise is in global exhibiting.

2. Freight

Freight isn’t just scary when crossing international borders. Many times, a simple one day shipment can become damaging to your booth property. Anyone else feel like trade show freight has a forklift bullseye?

Our advice here is to use proper casing and crating, always insure your shipment (and avoid carriers who will not insure) and find a trusted carrier, not just the cheapest out there. One particular carrier comes to mind that always delivers damaged packages, is terrible to deal with for claims, but, imagine that, they are the cheapest option!

3. Graphics

Far too often, the design of artwork for trade show display graphics is rushed and completed last minute. This can cause a slew of issues including; copy errors and misspellings, poor graphic fit or tensioning, sloppy looking low-resolution photos and incorrect colors.

This is what attendees see first. Take the time to properly design, review, proof and test fit the graphics. Erase graphic issues from the list of potential worries long before the show begins.

4. Missing Parts and Pieces

Many clients have booth property shipping in and out of the office and all around to shows a lot of times without opening their crates and boxes. This prompts panicked phone calls from the show floor asking how quickly we can get them whatever missing or broken piece(s) are needed to install their display.

Set up your display after you get it back from a show, and again before it goes back out to verify that all parts are accounted for and are in good working order. This can be painful and time consuming, but will save alleviate issues at the show. We also provide this service to those letting us manage their storage and freight (shameless plug).

5. Staff

Your display is up, booth looks great and the attendees are pouring down the aisles, but you look across the booth and see Joe standing with his cellphone to ear, muffin in the right hand and coffee spilling out of the left, and realize what was overlooked.

The team you have staffing your booth will make or break the experience for the attendee. I’ve been ignored at shows numerous times by booth personnel who are busy doing everything other than working the booth. Train your team on basic booth etiquette and conduct pre-show meetings both at the office and on-site to go over the goals and objectives. Get your team engaged, so that they will engage others.

In my position, I try to help my clients prepare to the best of my ability. In the end, with so many variables, there are still always some sleepless nights and unavoidable nightmares, but it all ends up getting worked out. Do your best to think of all the potential issues that may arise, and if you’re inexperienced in this field consult those who have the experience. Otherwise, Halloween may become the least scary time of your year.

Author: Chase Howells

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