The Final Steps of Trade Show Planning

As your show date comes closer, the 6 months leading up to your event require you to finalize a lot of details and orders so that the show goes as seamlessly as possible.  By keeping a checklist of what needs to be completed by when, you will stay on top of your deadlines so you don’t have to worry about missing anything.  Last month we talked about The Early Steps for Trade Show Planning, so now let's address the final steps. (This guide can be tailored to your own personal event schedule and needs.)

3 to 6 Months Before the Show

  • Carefully review the exhibitor service manual for all regulations and deadlines such as advanced order dates, exhibit move-in and move-out dates and times, and shipping deadlines.  Submit show service orders to take advantage of advance order discount rates.
  • Design and print any marketing materials including sales sheets and promotional products and giveaways. 
  • Determine your staffing needs – how many need to be there and select the best employees for the specific show.  Reserve hotel rooms, flights, and rental cars.
  • Confirm how and when you will be shipping to the show so as to keep you on schedule and able to take advantage of the Advanced Warehouse.
  • With your exhibit taken care of (either in production or using your existing one), develop and design your graphics based on brand and marketing initiatives.
  • Finalize which products will be featured at the show and how you will be displaying them.  Will they be shipping in with your exhibit?  Are you creating videos to showcase them?  Will there be on-site demonstrations?  All of these will need to be in development and/or ordered.

1 to 3 Months Before the Show

  • Set up a pre-show meeting with the staff to discuss the marketing plan and initiatives, the schedule of the show and events, their individual goals, notes for lead capture, and any training needed to set up the exhibit (if they are setting up on their own). 
  • Preview your new exhibit or your existing exhibit with any necessary modifications or additions.
  • Prepare any post-show marketing materials, such as e-mail and thank you letter templates, so they are ready to go upon return from the show.
  • Finalize production and delivery of exhibit, promotional items, and marketing materials.  Confirm shipping arrival dates and installation & dismantle schedule so as to keep your team on task and organized.
  • Review any changes or updates with the staff, and provide them with digital copies for their records (set-up instructions, show schedule, copies of show services orders, contact information for vendors, shipping bill of lading (BOL) and return labels, packing list, and digital photos of exhibit for reference).
  • Acquire the attendee list from the show and share it with the staff who will be on site.  With enough time, they can contact these people to invite them to your booth and/or set up a date and time to meet them.  It’s a great opportunity to take advantage of the face-to-face time.
  • Schedule brief on-site meeting with the team prior to the show opening to excite the team and give them momentum for a successful show.

Keeping up a calendar is a great tool to keep track of dates for when tasks need to be completed or orders submitted.  Set up a calendar reminder, and you will check everything off your list and be in great shape come show open! Be sure to download our Ultimate Guide to Trade Show Success for detailed help with planning every step. 


Alison JamesEvent Marketer & Brand Enthusiast

Alison has been with Apple Rock for 12 years. She is not only an industry expert, but also an experienced brand ambassador for all her clients. When she is not working hard for her clients she is enjoying the thrills of parenthood, along with her husband, to their 12 month old son.