Nearly 750,000 people attended the top ten trade shows in the US in 2016, all of which required meticulous event planning. Planning for a trade show, whether it is to showcase farm equipment, hand-held technology, or the latest in pet grooming, requires clear thinking and rock solid organization. It might be your organization’s first event, or it might be the twentieth: they all require patience and expertise. Here are Printleaf’s tips on how to create a smooth event:
1. Start early
Plan for this at least a year in advance. What kind of venue do you need? Will a hotel suffice? Or do you need a large convention center? Chances are that you plan to hold this in a large city. Check with the city council to learn of any plans to overhaul nearby highways, or reconstruct entire portions of the city. If possible, visit the venue in person. How does parking look? How close are you to nearby restaurants or hotels? Venues book up quickly so get your reservation in place. Also, be sure to find out about the venue’s catering rules. They may require that you use their services, or they may allow you to hire a local company. If it is the latter then you will have additional planning on your hands.
Without the sponsors, this event is going nowhere. Line them up early. Start a year in advance with some queries, and then begin the plea a good six months before. Be sure to have your promotional plans for them in place as you talk to them. They want to have their books ready for large donations before the end of the fiscal year so make sure you are on their calendar.
You may have an entire convention center, or just part of one. Some convention centers actually have more than one event going on at the same time, which can lead to some confusion. Make sure you know exactly which rooms you have, and how people will be moving in and out of them. Some exits might have to be blocked for staging purposes – be sure that the center’s security staff allows for this. Also, know where presenters will be sitting and what their tech needs will be: flat screen TVs? Large speakers? Be sure that people do not block one another. In any way, will there be any animals involved in exhibits? Make sure that all of their needs can be met as well.
This is your event – make sure people come! If it is a trade show then get your advertising space in the top trade publications, both print and online as soon as you can. If a general audience is invited, then be sure to utilize your sponsorships to help get and pay for radio and TV advertising. Offer ticket packages (with parking passes) to local businesses. Get your event promoted early on the venue’s website. And as soon as you can get your event on the venue’s marquee, have them put your name up.
Create a powerful statement and stand out. Printleaf has helped many clients design and strategize for their company’s look and presentation at trade shows around the country.
People love swag. It adds to the fun and the energy of the event. Presenters or event planners or sponsors can get their names printed on mugs, pens, or even tech items. Check out Printleaf’s promotional products page to see how we can help.
7. Be flexible
Stuff will go wrong. Some volunteers will forget to show up. Parking may overflow. There could be a hailstorm. A few things will be manageable while others will be beyond your control. In any event – always remain calm as event goers will look to you to solve any and all crises, no matter how small or large. Make sure that you know the venue’s emergency evacuation plans (they have to have one) and be friendly to all volunteers who show up – they are doing this out of sheer love.
Check out these top event planners around the country:
- Activent Marketing (Denver, Pittsburgh, Raleigh)
- Wasserman (NYC, Miami, Portland, + International)
- Kicking Cow (St. Louis)
- Division Black (Los Angeles)
- Fluent (Boston, MA and Columbia, SC)
- Manifold (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland)
- Havas (NYC)
- Kubik (Baltimore + International)
- Bottle Rocket Marketing (NYC, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Orlando, Miami)
If you are planning a large event, be sure to look up Printleaf’s trade show displays, particularly our Large Format items, such as our Retractable Banner or our Step and Repeat backdrop. We offer high quality print services and can help you with your show or your booth.
Last modified: September 19, 2017