Trade Show Display Rental Mistakes

Trade shows can be an emotional time for everybody involved. Like planning a family vacation to Disneyland, it takes patience, preparation and a lot of energy to do it right. If all goes well, you’ll have generated product buzz, new leads, and maybe even some new friends. Do it wrong, and you might as well start writing a script with a title along the lines of National Lampoon’s Trade Show Terror.

One of the ways to guarantee yourself trade show success is to plan ahead. This is an umbrella strategy that can have many aspects to it, but split your planning into three stages: before the show, during the show, and after show. You would never even consider launching a new product without putting in long hours of research, so why would you waste hundreds if not thousands of dollars on travelling to and attending a trade show?

5 Common Trade Show Rental Mistakes

Most common trade show rental mistakes are born out of poor planning. Here are 5 of the most common things people forget to do…

Skipping Homework

Forgetting to do your homework was borderline alright when you were a kid, but if you’re at a stage in life where you’re actually participating in trade shows, you need to do some research.

First of all, you need to know who’s going to be there, and that means everybody from the clients to your competitors to the big-shot speakers and CEOs. Without knowing the space, how are you going to carve out a place for yourself that’s different from the rest? In fact, if you don’t have all this information on hand, how do you even know that this is the right trade show for you? These things cost time and money, and you need to focus on the shows that are right for your company and more specifically, whatever it is you’re offering.

Poor Organization

Being poorly organized sort of comes hand in hand with skipping out on research. If you don’t do your homework, you won’t know all the important little details. You need to know the due dates for forms, and the size of the area allotted to you for your trade show display. If there are electronics involved, you need to know everything from voltage in whatever country you’re in to the distance between your booth and the outlet.

Having good organizational skills is also crucial to having a custom trade show booth design. If you don’t plan ahead, more likely than not you’ll end up scrambling to get hire a designer. The designer will then be scrambling to meet your deadlines, which leaves room for mistakes and other unforeseen circumstances. You need to give designers lots of leeway so that they can go over all the bits and pieces with you.

On that note, it’s important give yourself time to pick the right person – preferably somebody with experience designing large-sized projects, as these have different requirements than smaller projects. If they lack experience, they won’t know how to go over the details with you because they’ll be learning along right with you. Not cool. A good option is to look into hiring a professional trade show exhibit house to do the job. They’ll have the experience working with display booth marketing, and you’ll be able to peruse their past work for inspiration and quality assurance.

No Pre-Game

Here’s an insider tip: nobody goes to trade shows anymore just looking to browse. People come in with a game plan, and you need to figure out how you’re going to be a part of this plan. What this means is that you need to take on some pre-show exhibit marketing.

This doesn’t mean spewing out the entire company’s past, present and future… but you do need to give enough enticing information for people to seek you out. Don’t be vague – marketing for a trade show should be as well thought-out as any other campaign. You’re going to this particular trade show for a reason, aren’t you? (By the way, if you don’t know why you chose trade show A over trade show B, you have some more research to do.)

Take it back to elementary school and figure out an answer to those 5 Ws. People need to know who you are, what you’re offering, when your products are launching, where you’re located (at the trade show and in the outside world) and why you’re the number one option amongst all your competitors. Don’t forget to give them information on how to contact you if they want to get in touch before the show even launches.

No Goal = No Go

By now you should know that a large portion of anything business-related is driven by goals. Trade shows are not the exception. Why are you going to a trade show? What are you trying to achieve? Choose specific, measurable goals that can help you decide afterwards whether attending a particular type of trade show makes sense for you. If you don’t have a goal for whatever show it is you’re attending, you might as well not go.

By the way, your goals shouldn’t be limited to something vague like “get more leads”. How many leads are you aiming for? Please do yourself a favour and take that extra hour to think about what you’re trying to accomplish by attending a given trade show. What opportunities does a show offer you that you couldn’t do otherwise?

Untrained Staff

Trade shows are an environment unlike any other. Even your best employees need to be specifically trained for what a trade show entails. Just because your employee of the month knows your company and products backwards and forwards does not mean that they will make the best exhibitor. Your trade show staff are the literal faces of your company and your products. They need to be engaging, knowledgeable and able to think on the fly.

Train your staff to take notes and to keep themselves organized. Business cards and hastily-written email addresses on a napkin may come their way. They need to keep everything together so that you can follow up on leads after the show. Make sure everybody knows their role, and that every person knows the goals of attending this particular show.

As an aside, let your employees know that they’ll be expected to do clean-up duty. Anything from candy wrappers, stickers, smudges and smears can quickly accumulate over the course of the day. Your area needs to be cleared regularly. Screens should be wiped, papers and pens should be organized, etcetera etcetera. By the way, this extends to the employees themselves. Tell them to sleep well, stay hydrated, and to enjoy regular solid meals!


The sky’s the limit when it comes to ways a trade show can be a great success – or a harrowing failure. The good thing is that most problems can be prevented with solid planning for before, during and after the event. If you do your research and stay organized, you can be sure that your booth will be fine. Of course, if you want to take it to the next level, trade shows are the place for getting flashy. Don’t be afraid to flex your creative muscles – within reason, of course. But since you’ve done your homework well in advance, you’ve got the time to flush out the details with your team and designer don’t you?