Ready for your next trade show? From signage to business cards, there are certain “must-have” items that belong on any trade show packing list, whether you’re taking part for the first time or returning to an event after a successful appearance.
However, there are also items that don’t belong at any trade show, from snacks (eat outside the booth, not inside) to cliché giveaways. Below, we’ve listed six items that are best left behind for your next trade show.
Personal Food and Snacks
Giving away snacks and other food items to attendees can be a great way to build relationships and generate traffic, but it’s never a good idea to eat your own lunch inside your rental booth.
Eating in your booth sends the wrong impression to attendees, giving your company a far less professional, polished image. If you feel hungry during the event, ask for a minute or two away from your booth to enjoy the event catering or eat your meal at a proper dining table.
The same rules apply for drinking — by all means, keep a sipper bottle out of sight to help you stay hydrated throughout the event, but avoid the usual takeaway coffee cups, soda cans and other drinks that give off an unprofessional impression.
Loose Wires and Cables
Your trade show booth will definitely need extension cords, cables, and other wirings, but these things definitely need to be out of sight. Loose wires, cables, and extension cords are a major safety risk, as well as a visual annoyance that can give your booth an unprofessional look.
Before the event, use some simple cable management tactics to keep your booth’s wiring out of the way of attendees. Not only will your booth look better — you’ll also reduce the risk of people slipping, falling or tripping on cables and other loose items.
“Nuisance” Giveaway Items
Feel like giving away chewing gum, stickers or other items to attendees? Unless the event staff specifically allow these items to be given away, it’s probably best to choose something else to give to prospects.
Gum, stickers and other promotional items are often classified as “nuisance items” by event and trade show organizers since they’re major sources of a mess. If you’re planning a giveaway, take a moment to check that your items are allowed under the event’s rules and regulations.
Cheap, Low-Quality Promo Items
It’s also best to avoid giving away cheap, low-quality promotional items. We’ve all received pens that don’t work (or worse, that leak all through your shirt pocket), poorly made t-shirts and other low-quality items from trade shows before, and rarely did they create a good impression.
Your company will be judged based on the quality of items it gives away. If you’re planning to do a free giveaway at your next trade show, consider investing a little extra in your giveaway item to make sure it creates a positive impression with attendees.
Overly Loud Audio Equipment
We’ve all experienced it — while most trade show exhibitors are respectful of noise levels, there is always one exhibitor that turns up their music, presentation video or other audio just a little too high in order to attract extra attention.
While being noisy might earn you extra attention in a trade show environment, it’s very unlikely to produce any real benefits. Trade shows are overwhelming as is — adding an uncomfortable level of noise is more likely to tire prospects out than motivate them to enter your booth.
Bad Personal Habits
Finally, the last thing you should leave at home before your next trade show or event is your bad habits.
We all have them — from leaning on tables to chatting with other staff instead of engaging with prospects, everyone has a habit or two they’d like to cut back on. In a trade show environment, it’s especially important that you prioritize your good habits and eliminate your bad ones.
This means keeping your hands out of your pockets, mastering your personal appearance and presentation, standing up instead of sitting down, welcoming people into your booth instead of relaxing at the back, and generally taking the event seriously.
Remember, a trade show is an opportunity to showcase the best of your business. Create the best possible first impression by leaving your bad habits at home and showcasing your positive qualities.