Attendee Engagement

The Blueprint for Being a Successful Trade Show Host: 10 Tips

Succeeding as a trade show host can be challenging if you're unaware of the tricks of the trade. Read this post for 10 tips that can help.

Trade shows are back in vogue.

While virtual trade shows replaced physical events in the last couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are on track for a rebound.

For instance, according to a CEIR report, 94% of exhibitors plan to return to live exhibiting. Moreover, record participation at recent events suggests equal enthusiasm between exhibitors and attendees.

[READ- Trade Show News: January 2023]

But although physical events have stood the test of time, the sweet taste of trade show victory is hard to come by. More often than not, it is due to the exhibitors’ inability to get the basics right.

If jumping on the exhibition bandwagon is what you have on your mind, here are 10 tips to help you ace the basics of being a successful trade show host.

10 Tips to Succeed as a Trade Show Host

1. Start with Clear Objectives

The ultimate goal of every exhibitor is growing their business. But while that is the Big Picture goal, you need a Plan of Attack to get there. You need clear-cut objectives you'd like to achieve at the trade show, ultimately leading to business growth.

For instance, some of the most common exhibition objectives are-

  • Brand awareness
  • Relationship building
  • Lead generation
  • Product launch

It is vital to finalize your event objectives before you start working on your trade show plan. All the vital components, including trade show booth design, marketing, engagement activity, etc., will revolve around those objectives. 

[READ: Trade Show Planning Guide]

2. Identify Booth Location

Successful trade show hosts cautiously plan every aspect of their exhibit, including their booth location. 

Some areas on a trade show floor naturally receive more eyeballs and footfalls. These are-

  • Cross-junctions, corners, and intersections
  • Booths close to the entrance
  • Areas around major attractions, restrooms, cafes, etc.

So, once you’ve finalized the event you’d like to exhibit at, ensure that you reserve a booth at your preferred locations as soon as the bookings open.

3. Choose the Booth Size

The booth space will consume a good portion of your trade show budget - up to 30% of the budget or even more. So, be wary of what you choose.

Most trade shows offer booth options like inline, peninsula, and island booths. The inline booths are the smallest, with standard sizes ranging from 10'x10' to 10'x20' and even 10'x30'. Peninsula and island booths are bigger, with sizes generally starting from 20'x20'.

Select the right trade show booth size based on factors like-

  • Trade show budget
  • Expected traffic
  • Booth design
  • Engagement activity

While you can definitely splurge on a larger booth size if your budget allows, the size itself doesn't guarantee success. However, you can achieve your event objectives even with a 10'x10' booth.

[READ: 10’x10’ Booth Ideas for Trade Shows]

4. Train the Booth Staff

The booth staff is your company's face on a trade show floor. Everything they do, everything they say, and even how they dress will impact your brand image. Thus, ensuring your trade show staff is adequately trained and dressed for the event is essential.

While most exhibitors hire trade show staff, you also have the option to build an internal team from your office, especially if you’re planning to participate in multiple trade shows. While training them, focus on aspects like-

  • Product training
  • Sales training
  • People skills training
  • Audience engagement strategy training
  • Grooming standards

You can check our detailed Trade Show Booth Staff Training guide for some handy tips.

5. Choose the Right Trade Show Game or Activity

Trade show games like custom trivia are a big hit among exhibitors and attendees. Apart from being fun and challenging, the trivia game can also significantly contribute to your event objectives.

Moreover, compared to other audience engagement activities and games, custom trade show trivia offers some critical benefits like-

  • Trivia questions can be customized to help with business objectives
  • Trivia games can be personalized with brand logos, colors, etc.
  • Simple setup with minimal staff involvement
  • Trivia games can also digitize lead collection
  • Post-show analytics to further improve future events

So, look for a reliable trade show gamification company that can help your booth stand apart on the trade show floor.

[READ: Trivia Games vs. Virtual Spinwheel vs. Scavenger Hunt]

6. Double-Check All the Equipment and Setup

From displays and booth games to photo booths for social media and online lead collection systems, modern exhibition booths use a wide range of technologies and equipment. And on D-Day, everything should work flawlessly for the best results.

Thus, it is essential to work with reputable service/product providers and double-check all the equipment and setup before the event.

7. Prepare a Trade Show Crisis Management Plan

Many things can go wrong during trade shows, from equipment malfunction and power outages to severe crises like natural disasters, accidents, or medical emergencies. As an event manager, it is your responsibility to keep everyone prepared for such unexpected situations.

This is the reason why it is essential to have a trade show crisis management plan. The plan includes detailed information about how the team should respond to the crisis safely and effectively. Most importantly, how to avert or avoid the crisis altogether. 

8. Promote Your Exhibit

You also need to let people know about your participation in the upcoming event so that they can come to visit your booth.

Most exhibitors now rely on digital channels to promote their exhibits. You can use email and social media marketing tips to build your promotional strategy.

[READ: 5 Digital Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Booth]  

9. Follow-Up with Leads

When working on your event plan, don’t forget to create a trade show lead management strategy. All the vital elements of lead management, including lead collection, qualification, nurturing, and analysis, are included in the plan to help you optimize the leads collected.

Also, don't wait too long before contacting the leads. This is why many exhibitors prefer our trade show trivia, which comes integrated with an automatic online lead collection. As the game is connected to an online lead collection platform, it eliminates the time spent manually uploading the leads to CRM, which is a common problem with the offline lead collection process at trade shows.

10. Have Fun & Smile

Picture this, you're a visitor at a trade show - one that's filled with trade show booths in your industry. As you walk, you come across this booth where you see a bunch of people laughing, having fun, interacting, and just having a good time. 

Now, what are the chances you'll at least be tempted to visit this booth?

Probably quite high, right? 

As a host, it's important to keep your energy levels up, and that of your team and have a good time. Here are a few tips to ensure your booth stands out as a fun and engaging booth.

  • Keep smiling and keep checking your teammates to ensure they’re smiling.
  • Hosting a trade show can be tiring. Make sure you keep yourself and your team hydrated. A few energy drinks would surely come in handy.
  • Keep the basics with you, like antiperspirants, deodorants, lip balms, etc., at all times. 
  • Pace yourself out. It’s going to be 2-3 long days. Don’t burn out.
  • Keep doing fun activities within the team to keep the energy levels up.
  • Team hurdles before the beginning of the day, end of the day, and whenever you can during the day will surely help.

Remember, your vibe attracts the tribe. So keep your vibe good and positive, and energetic. 

Growing Your Business with Trade Shows

Trade shows allow you to meet hundreds of new prospects and existing customers, boost brand awareness, launch new products, and collect leads.

But being a successful trade show host requires careful planning and a thorough understanding of the basics. Keep these tips in mind when working on your trade show plan, as they can significantly contribute to your success.

If a fun and engaging booth game is what you’re looking for, Audiencegage can help. We create custom booth trivia for our clients to assist them with their event objectives. Book a live demo of our trade show trivia game to know why businesses across industries trust us for event gamification. 


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