trade show logistics

Electricity, Drayage and Lead Retrieval, Oh My!

Trade show marketing is much broader than getting people to your booth and stirring up brand interest. There’s this little thing called logistics. And if you’re anything like me, this is the area that’s most likely to throw a trade show marketer for a loop.

For first time trade show exhibitors, you need to learn a brand new vocabulary. Once you get the language down, here are a few more tips to help you get through the logistics of your first trade show.

Stay Organized

Most marketers are decent planners by nature, and that’s a blessing. Managing one trade show timeline can be tricky. But if you’re exhibiting in multiple shows throughout the year, it can get downright stressful.

I recommend staying organized with apps such as Exhibit Force for project management, Trello for team collaboration and a powerful calendar app, such as Google Calendar, Sunrise or Horizon. Todoist and Wrike may be additional apps to consider.

Another tool that may come in handy is Nexonia. It’s a paid service that helps companies manage expenses and timesheets. Depending on how many shows at which your company is exhibiting throughout a year, it may be really helpful to keep track of receipts, manage travel and streamline the expense reporting through an app, such as Nexonia. If you don’t like being hunted down by your accounting team, it might be a good idea to come up with a powerful way to track and share that kind of data.

Careful Cents shares another 15 business apps that boost productivity. Find the apps that work best for you and help you stay organized.

Please note, I haven’t been paid, bribed or threatened to recommend any of those apps. I just like to share good things when I find them. Find someone else’s virtual team software tools recommendation here.

Make Friends with Your Account Executive

Every exhibitor is assigned a go-to person. And thank goodness! Your account executive will keep you on top of things, so you don’t miss a deadline. They can also answer every question thinkable. (Trust me, I’ve asked a few show AEs my fair share of questions.) Their job is to support you – they’re your official “person” to get you through the show.

If you’re nice to them and you do miss a step, they can help rectify the situation or waive a late fee. So be nice to them! Connect on LinkedIn and be sure to give a raving recommendation, so they’ll be even more helpful next year!

Make a List, Check it Twice

There were a lot of things I didn’t think to bring or to do at my first trade show. So during the show and afterward, I made a pretty hefty list of all the things I needed to remember for the next show. Every subsequent show, I did the same thing, until I finally couldn’t think of anything else I needed to remember to bring. I had a pretty long packing list for future shows that definitely came in handy.

Some items on that list included:

  • Product cleaning / touch-up supplies
  • First aid kit and hand sanitizer
  • Extra tools for assembly / dismantling
  • Powerless carpet vacuum

It’s normal to learn from each trade show and to continually improve.

Learn Shipping Processes

The area that always confused me the most was shipping. What labels needed to go where? Is my bill of lading filled out correctly? Where will the stickers be located to put on my empty cartons after assembly? How long until I get my containers back after the show? It might seem like the least likely place to make a mistake, but there are a lot of little details to consider.

Download our glossary of trade show terms to get started, but then talk to your in-house shipping team and your show account executive if you still have questions. The more fully you understand how your exhibit will arrive, be stored and be shipped back will translate into a smooth experience for yourself.

Now that you’ve nailed trade show logistics, you can focus on what’s most important: your trade show ROI! And we can help. Contact us to discuss how your trade show plan could benefit from an experiential strategy to succeed.

Also, check out our trade show guide for exhibitors!

Trade Show Exhibitor Guide

Trade Show Exhibitor Guide

This free download is chock-full of tips for your next trade show – logistics, marketing, consumer engagements!

Download. It’s Free!