Working in a creative solutions company with years of tradeshow experience, I have come to realize that the potential for a successful event experience depends a great deal on your advance preparation. The list of items that you might need at a show is endless but this top 20 is a good place to start.
1. Booth assembly instructions: Written instructions are great but photos are even better – don’t leave any room for confusion for your team who will be constructing your space. Your booth is your home for the weekend and curb appeal is key
2. Pens: No matter how many you bring with, they will inevitably get taken (I would know, mine suspiciously disappear from my desk all the time!)
3. Tape: Duct, scotch, double-sided…we guarantee there will come a moment where you’re glad you remembered the tape
4. A tablet: Whether you’re an iPad or a Surface person, there are so many apps to simplify your event experience. Check out EventBase (free!) and gives your attendees a complete guide to your event. We just used it for an AACS event and it helped eliminate so much paper waste
5. Email sign-up list: Make it easy to for people to find out more about you. Try downloading Guest’d, a digital guestbook that makes customer interaction a breeze
6. Mints: Potential customers may love your product but hate your breath…Let Lifesavers be your selling savior.
7. Box-cutters: If you’re shipping product and materials to show site, this will be a huge help. Just remember, safety first.
8. HDMI and extension cords: If you leave these at home, there’s a good chance you will sadly be thinking, “I wish I had thought to bring that!”
9. Garbage bags: Snack wrappers, paper shreds, leftover lettuce from that deli sandwich at lunch…that’s where these belong.
10. Exhibitor Badge: Your key to the world (for a few days, at least)
11. Camera: Take photos for your social media sites so you can keep your social media sites fresh and up to date. Not to mention, your exhibit design team will want to see how the booth looked on the floor
12. Spray cleaner and paper towels: Your booth will get dirty over the course of the event and dust bunnies are not welcome exhibitors. Make sure everything on the surface is sparkling.
13. Giveaway item: PEOPLE LOVE FREE STUFF. But keep it clever – we all have a stash of various company pens but people never tire of cupcakes. Just saying.
14. Literature: Business cards, brochures, flyers, banners, and all forms of the written word. Make sure these are up to date, spell-checked (twice) and consistent with your brand.
15. Extra company shirts: A uniform look implies organization and team unity but it can get sweaty under those fluorescent lights so make sure a few clean shirts are on standby.
16. Non-perishable snacks and water bottle: Kind bars are delicious and high in protein, great for keeping your energy up until it’s time for a full meal. Also, it’s smart to keep refilling your own water bottle because purchasing water at hotels and convention centers can be pricy.
17. Drugs: Over the counter, that is. It’s much easier to reach in your bag for Advil than have to find the nearest Walgreens.
18. Chargers: Phone, camera, laptop, fan, etc. – You don’t want to run out of juice before an important presentation or phone call!
19. Comfortable shoes: Sometimes, comfort beats out style and this is one of those times. You will be on your feet all day and in order to make it through the next day, we suggest bringing a few different kinds.
20. Priority exhibitor/attendee list: Whether you’re behind the booth or in attendance, it’s very helpful to know who you want to see ahead of time. This is about quality, not quantity – it doesn’t always matter how many people you talk to, but who they are.
Kaitlyn Agnew (Fergus) is the Marketing/Social Media Director at Katherine Frank Creative in Lombard, IL.