The key to trade show booth success is organization. When your ducks are in a row, it allows:

  • Your team to feel calm and confident.
  • A good, “We got this!” energy that attracts trade show attendees.
  • The smooth execution of trade show strategies for more sales.

That’s why we’re sharing these 5 specific ways to stay organized at trade shows.

1. Digitize your Team’s Task List.

It’s critical to outline all To Dos. As much as I love notebooks, a paper To Do list is not effective enough. Use a digital To Do list because :

  • You know exactly where to find it. Paper lists can lost, forgotten or thrown away.
  • It can be shared with fellow team members and vendors. This keeps everyone on the same page.

Recommendations for digital task lists:

I recommend tools like Asana or project management platforms like Basecamp. These make it easy to create and share tasks. Plus, you can assign specific items to different people. As each person checks off their responsibilities, it’s amazing how smoother the trade show planning feels.

Many of the companies we work with also send out a ETK (Everything To Know) document or a “Show Guide” to ensure that all of the exhibiting team are fully informed. This document goes into detail about everything booth staff could possibly need to or want to know. A well crafted ETK doc saves everyone a lot of time and hassle.

  • Company Hotel Info
  • Ground transportation options from airport
  • Show hours
  • Company Messaging
  • Giveaways, Booth Activities and Prize Draws
  • Speaking sessions etc...

2. Plan out trade show steps month-by-month.

Lists are only helpful if used strategically. Follow a step-by-step plan for marketing. Start as early as possible; it’s ideal to begin 9 - 12 months beforehand.

We’ve already created the monthly trade show plan for you at The Ultimate Checklist for Trade Show Exhibitors.

3. Create a Trade Show Checklist of Physical Items.

Amid the branding and sales strategies, it can be easy to forget physical items, especially small items like tape, pens, and screwdrivers. Let’s decrease the chance of feeling flustered due to a lack of staplers or extra pens.

That’s why we created this handy dandy checklist: The Must Have Trade Show Checklist for Your “Gang Box”. .

4. Test Out All Trade Show Technology and Demo Items.

Make sure everyone’s technology is working properly - laptops, tablets, demo items and so forth. Test out each item at least a week or two before the trade show. That way, if there is an issue, there is time to deal with it.

Important note: Trade shows are not the ideal time to get a brand new laptop that a team member has never used. Rather, make sure the team is familiar with all the devices they will be using and has a Plan B for each item. For example, make sure to bring laptop chargers, extra phones charges and so forth.

5. Triple Check all Trade Show Travel and Accommodations.

Check your trade show travel and accommodations step-by-step. Print out every receipt and confirmation for these steps. You never know when a phone will die or WiFi won’t work. By having physical copies for everyone at the ready, you limit potential hassles.

Walk through:

  • How are you getting to the trade show? (Plane, rental car, both? Have all the confirmation info for these ready.)
  • Where is everyone staying? What’s included (food, wifi) and what will they need to get?
  • Are there set meals / budgets for food? How will these costs be covered? (Make sure your team knows these details.)
  • How are you all getting back from the conference? (Once again, have all that confirmation ready.)

By knowing where to go, how and with receipts, it’s amazing how much more pleasant the trade show travel is.

At Trade Shows, Know to Expect the Unexpected

No matter how prepared your team is, it’s always wise to expect the unexpected. When there is a technical difficulty or one of your team members has trouble with their rental car, remember to breathe and focus on the big picture. Will that one element drive your entire trade show booth down?

In reality, probably not.

As long as the team stays calm, uses the resources available and has all those checklists marked off - you’ve done what you could to prepare. You’ll still be ready for a great trade show!