Yogi Berra was a baseball coach who had a colorful and often paradoxical way with words. He coined many memorable quotes that are used in both sporting and non-sporting contexts to this very day. One of the most famous is the line “The game ain’t over till it’s over”. This quote is especially significant for exhibitors. On the last day of an expo, the traffic is often lighter as the novelty of the trade show floor has worn off and most attendees are hungover from the concert/party the night before.

Throwing in the towel

What I find all too often is that exhibitors throw in the towel far too early. They give up on that last day because they are tired and the number of leads they’ve collected at the show are “good enough”. Maybe they’ve hit their scan target and now they are just coasting, going through the motions until the lights dim and you can tear down your exhibit. In fact, I’ve heard the last day of a show called “Velcro Day” because you can hear the sound of ripping Velcro in the dying minutes of the show, as exhibitors attempt to tear down early and beat the rush out of the venue.

Through the finish line, not to the finish line

At the risk throwing in one too many sports clichés, you’ve got to go through the finish line, not just to the finish line. You’ve spent your money to be there and your goal was to maximize your ROI and generate as many qualified leads with your current budget as possible, and yet most companies pull up short.

I deal with a number of clients who feel that “the last day is kind of slow” and they want to pass on having presentations on that day. As a Trade Show Infotainer, I’m paid to draw crowds and communicate my company’s message to the masses. On that last day, the traffic is slower and there is not a lot happening. Nobody even makes an effort. So when I’m still able to put crowds of people around my client’s booth, it positions my client as an in-demand vendor with something of value to offer. The end result is more leads and profit to show for the outing.

It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon

How can you go through the finish line instead of limping up to it? Easy. Budget your resources accordingly. You have to save something for the end. Just like a long distance runner, you can’t blow all your energy at the start of the race. This means making sure that you brought enough giveaways for all 4 days of the show. Don’t give yourself any excuses to let up. Having to ship back a few extra giveaways is nothing, knowing that you took full advantage of your opportunities at the show.

Leave it all on the field

Ensure that your team knows it’s a 4-day show, not three, and keep a tight rein on their behavior. Having hungover booth staff who are dragging their asses in the booth just adds to the sense of apathy that is already in the air on that last day. As a performer who outputs massive amounts of energy on stage, I’m very careful to pace myself through the show. This means getting lots of sleep, drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol.

While you can’t always control your booth staff, you can control the in-booth schedule. If you have the luxury to have more company representatives than roles in the booth, you can afford to stagger the shift times so that you can have a new, fresh booth crew when your first group is fading.

Eyes on the prize

You can also lead by example. As the event lead, you can show up on that last day in fine form and bring the same energy and enthusiasm to the last day as you did the first. Your booth staff take their cue from their leader. Set the example and keep your eyes on the prize.

Finishing strong is not some revolutionary concept. It’s very straight-forward. Having the discipline to execute and follow through is the key. Then and only then can you hit the showers knowing you left everything on the field.