You plan and plan and plan, because the trade show is a major investment of time, energy, and finances. You go over the supplies list ten times before you hit the road. You’ve mapped it all out beautifully. But then the guys at the booth next to yours decide to have some fun with the give-aways at the end of the day, and a glow stick gets opened, spilling chemiluminescent fluid all over your booth floor. Now what? The unexpected, and frankly, unpredictable, happens almost more than it doesn’t at trade shows, and usually at the most inopportune times. Caterers pushing a coffee cart (bless their hearts) at the exhibition manage to dislodge a wheel right in front of your booth and now your floor is a fair-trade brown. Worse, the seafood restaurant has been given the booth next to yours, and they’re frying fish – until the used oil gets spilled and creeps menacingly toward your booth. An attractive, well-thought-out exhibit can be ruined in seconds, regardless of your planning.
The first mitigative step toward a successful trade show is to acknowledge that stuff happens and no level of foresight is going to be able to stop it. How does this mitigate the crisis? Realistic expectations are always a good first step, so being mentally prepared for an eventuality is going to give you a leg up. Panic is never a helpful response to a snafu, but having a level head and a plan to return things to the status quo definitely is.
One of the ways to take a little pressure off the trade show circus is to invest in top-quality materials for your booth that can be easily maintained and replaced if necessary. Portable pop-up sample or display tables, foldable displays, and even lightweight foam flooring tiles are excellent ideas for creating an attractive yet practical display space. If a floor tile gets damaged, it can easily be replaced, rather than replacing an entire floor. It’s little things like this that can save a show and keep a snafu from becoming a complete loss of investment.
You can’t possibly imagine the mishaps, eventualities, and snafus of every trade show, but with a level head and some adaptable equipment, even the worst exhibition horror story can still have a happy ending.