Meetings Canada


Top Trade Show Tips

Robert Byhre, president of Hollenbeck Exhibits, in San Francisco, shares his top trade-show tips that planners can share with their exhibitor clients for any event, be it a table-top or pipe-and-curtain booth.

February 2, 2010

Robert Byhre

Robert Byhre

Even though many companies have turned to virtual meetings, e-client presentations and online catalogues, there will always be a need for face-to-face client interaction and product/service demonstrations.

“Trade shows are still the most cost-effective way to bring your message to a large audience of both customers and press – and, if managed correctly, can have a big impact on your business,” says Robert Byhre, trade-show expert and president of Hollenbeck Exhibits, in San Francisco.

Byhre shares his top trade-show tips that meeting planners can share with their exhibitor clients for any event, be it a table-top display or pipe-and-curtain booth:

• Study the show’s floorplan and choose a high-traffic location for your booth. While many premium spaces at entrances may not be available or can command expensive rental fees, there are other options that may perform just as well. Look for a location near restrooms, foodservice areas or business centres. These can save you money and be just as effective.

• Become a repeat exhibitor. Show producers usually offer better floor locations to exhibitors that are consistent.

• Consult with an exhibit/display expert. While you might be tempted to shop online at discount display outlets, the savings you might experience could pale in comparison to the business you would gain from seeking the advice of a seasoned expert. Most reputable exhibit firms will offer free design consultation that can dramatically affect your results.

• Invest in great graphics. Print on durable materials such as Lexan or Styrene. Avoid flimsy foam core that can be damaged even before the show has started. Also, less is more when it comes to text and images. Let one large image with just a few words tell your story. It will cost you less and can be seen from further away.

• Don’t skimp on lighting. Pay the extra fees to have electrical brought to your booth. A well-lit display will draw more attention.

• Rent or buy carpet with the best padding. Show attendees will notice and your booth staff will thank you at the end of the show.

• Train your staff on booth etiquette. No eating, sitting or personal conversation among staffers. Show attendees are the priority.

• Capture your leads. Take advantage of the trade show’s lead tracking system. If they don’t have one available to you, create a contact form with a few key questions that you can complete and attach to a lead’s business card.

• Don’t overlook the press room. If you don’t have professional public-relations representation, consider it for your show. A PR expert can help you direct press to your booth and to secure interviews about your business that can support your success.

• Follow up. Set a plan for follow-up for trade-show leads. Nearly 75 per cent of all leads collected at a trade show are never contacted again.

Robert Byhre has over 25 years experience in producing exhibits and displays for local, national and international events and trade shows. As president of Hollenbeck Exhibits, he and his design team have created exhibits for a number of national brands.

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