At a trade show, you want to have more than just a backup plan. In addition to Plan B, be ready for the unexpected with Plan C and D. Here’s an easy way to do this: Prep a trade show emergency kit (i.e. A “gang box”) with anything the team might need.

Yes, there are the most obvious items such as:

  • Your promotional material
  • Any branded giveaways
  • AV equipment for the display

But don’t forget the small stuff either. Here’s a complete list of what to include in your trade show gang box.

The Basic Box of Trade Show Essentials

  • Items to Assist in Display
    • Bowls or boxes to host giveaway items and business cards
    • Table linens to make your table look polished
  • Office Supplies
    • Scissors
    • Stapler
      Bring extra staples and a staple remover!
    • Tape dispensers
      Normal tape and double-sided tape - just to be safe.
    • Pens, Pencils & Highlighters
      Bring more pens than you could possibly need. People will accidentally take them. Some will disappear like a magic act.
    • Notepads
    • Sticky notes
    • Rubber bands
    • Paper clips
    • Glue
    • Superglue
    • Duct tape
      The ultimate cure for anything.
    • White Out
  • Breath mints
    Although gum can also help with any onion bagel or post-lunch breath, mints are ideal because chewing gum in front of prospective clients may come across as less professional.
  • Tissues
  • Tweezers
    From removing splinters to tweaking equipment, it’s amazing how handy these can be.
  • Miniature sewing kit
    Seam busts ot pants rip? With no time to go buy a new shirt, a quick sew can be a savior.

    • Safety pins can also be a great fix, especially if extra low on time.
  • Boxcutter for opening boxes of giveaways
  • First Aid Kit
    With the lifting, preparing and running about, cuts and scrapes can happen. You’ll be glad you had that band aid and antiseptic.
  • Stain remover
    I recommend a stain removing pen, such as the Tide To Go pens.
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Technology Items
    • Chargers
    • Extension cords
    • Zip ties - To keep those cords in check.

The Ultimate Box of Trade Show Needs

Those are the very basics. For the most comprehensive box, here’s the ultimate trade show checklist of necessities.

  • Tools
    At a minimum: Screwdrivers, pliers, a small hammer, flashlight, Exacto knife & measuring tape. These basics can get you through most situations that arise.
  • Paper towels
  • Staple gun
  • Light bulbs
    Bring extra ones for whatever type your exhibit is utilizing.
  • Plastic bags & Ziploc baggies
  • Camera
    Although, if your smart phone has a great camera, this is probably moot.
  • Fishing line
    Clear fishing line can come in real handy, such as for hanging company signage.
  • Tape
    Bring a variety of types: Clear packing, electrical, gaffers, masking. Different types will be better for the job.
  • WD-40
  • Mega Lint Roller
  • Extra Booth Items
    Bolts, screws, connectors. Look at the little details that are enabling your booth to come to life - and bring more of them.
  • Multi-tool such as a Leatherman or Gerber

This is the checklist for what to bring for smooth trade show success. To make sure you’re taking care of everything before the trade show, check out: The Ultimate Checklist for Trade Show Exhibitors.