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Trade Show & Exhibition Planning Guide

Trade Show & Exhibition Planning Guide

Do you know how to plan a trade show? Want to find out? Gevme will give you some actionable pieces of advice. Use our guide to trade show planning and achieve memorable exhibitions that are organised in a highly successful way.

About trade shows & exhibitions

Exhibitions and trade shows are large-scale public presentations of achievements in the field of economics, science, technology, culture, art, and other areas of public life. Trade shows are a time-honored tradition among business-to-business (B2B) marketers and event organisers. Trade shows used to be the only way for prospects to get a truly good look at what new products were available. Planning a trade show may be the greatest experience in an event organiser’s career.

What the participants expect from the event

To organise a trade show in the best way, you need to know what’s expected from such events. Basically, what do your attendees want to see there?

For winning an exhibition, the guests may be awarded with expensive prizes. At the very least, they will be given a statuette, a goblet, a medal, etc. At some expo shows, there are prizes in the form of toys or treats, event tickets, product samples, and so much more.

These tangible perks are provided by sponsors. Also, at the end of the exhibition, you will usually be presented with a swag pack or some other type of branded merchandise. However, none of this fully compensates for all the physical and financial efforts that you and the event participants put into preparing and participating in the exhibition or trade show.

Best practices for planning trade shows & exhibitions

‘The quality of sales leads coming from trade shows continues to rank among the most qualified. Companies are still exhibiting at trade shows, but they do fewer of them and they are focused on squeezing all the value they can from them.’ Goldstein Group

Trade show planners are looking for the best practices to apply in their event organisation efforts. The following tips are the best practices that have emerged from years of collective experience with B2B clients across a wide variety of industries:

  • Schedule customer and other show participants’ appointments
  • Seek free product coverage in advance
  • Show guides and show dailies
  • Consider co-sponsoring
  • Send someone from your marketing team to manage the event booths
  • Effectively manage your traffic
  • Don’t spend a lot of money on trinkets to give away
  • Don’t give literature to unqualified prospects
  • Be tasteful; no dancing girls, etc.
  • When you meet someone, introduce yourself and use their name when speaking to them
  • Use games, lucky draws, contests and other creative forms of entertainment
  • Don’t put signage below table height, as it will never be noticed
  •  Ensure that your booth and literature graphics are consistent in both look and message and are aligned with your website

These and other expo tendencies are recommended by B2B experts and are available to review online.

How to organise trade shows & exhibitions step by step

You should begin planning months before the event. Remember, trade shows are a huge investment in both time and money.

Pre-shows & exhibitions

More than 20% of exhibitors utilise targeted pre-show marketing campaigns. Arrange pre-shows to warm up your clientele. Also, be sure to follow the steps below.

Define goals and objectives

There can be no event without an established goal. Identify your event goals and objectives. The goal is critical because it defines the whole structure of your marketing plan.

Define the budget 

If you create a campaign with specific start and end dates, you can set a total budget for the duration of the event campaign. Use Gevme event marketing apps to make this even easier.

Build a team

Gather your team and discuss different event aspects and items. Make sure everyone is tuned in and understands what’s needed to delegate certain responsibilities, then divide these objectives between the most competent team members.

Find a venue

Use spacious venues when possible. It is important to have a large open space for communication and observations for more organised introductory sessions and exchanges of contacts, such as in venues for meetings, events, and conferences in Asia.

Select entertainment

Improve the appeal of your show with vocalists, tributes, bands, etc. to suit your expo occasion. Arrange unique games, contests, and competitions for your visitors.

Choose a caterer

Event organisers may engage restaurants and cafes to cater their trade shows and exhibitions or install food courts, snack bars, etc.

Plan out logistics

Create a logistics plan to control transport. Leverage partners, sponsors and other participants to help produce and promote your event.


Event promotion items will include a serial event content strategy, an effective email campaign, booth ideas, social wall ideas, and setting up trade show & exhibition booths, etc. Remember that non-marketed events will never be seen. To cause a stir, be ready to promote your event as much as possible and carefully plan your engagement tactics. Select the perfect ticketing or registration platform that works best for your needs.


As was previously stated, promotion for the next event shouldn’t begin only after your current event ends. You should continue future event promotion before, during, and after every event!

Post event

Event planners should keep doing their job even after the event if completed. This means that they will follow up, send thank you emails, create wrap-up reports, and so many other effective post-event tasks.

 Follow up

Once your event is over, you still have things to do! Read our tips for following up with your guests as well as sending out thank you notes to your team and vendors or sponsors.

Thank you

Don’t forget about sending thank you emails to the attendees, speakers, or hosts of your event. This will be the perfect way to let them know how much you care and mention that you are looking forward to hearing from them or seeing them at the next expo.

How to attract more attendees

Take your time when searching for the right software. The best platforms allow you to collect valuable data for events and provide analytical conclusions based on this information.  It is your strategy roadmap that will help you reach the goals you’ve set for your trade show!

After you choose a strategic tool, ask yourself these questions: Is my event tool a cutting-edge technology? Does it bolster my general advertising system and procedures? Does it help me to achieve the event goals? For example, your objectives may be to sell a certain number of early-bird tickets, boost a specific brand’s sales or increase event awareness, team leadership, community loyalty, or something else entirely!


Be sure to avoid these critical pre-event pitfalls:

  • Your trade show booth will make an immediate first impression on your guests. Make sure that it’s functional and well-branded. Do not put the wrong person in the booth (i.e., anti-social or a poor brand representative).
  • A poor display is completely unacceptable.
  • Rely less on social media. Use social walls instead!
  • You need to define your goals; don’t make your show just for fun, as this is less likely to lead to positive progress.
  • Not following up is an unwise move in any industry.

Remember that much of your exhibition’s success (or failure) will be determined by what you do/skip doing in preparation for the big day.

Writing a business plan for trade shows & exhibitions

To plan an exhibition, you need a good marketing scheme. The right marketing plan for an event usually describes your target audience and outlines how you will attract new customers, as well as how you will ensure that they continue to organise trade shows with you over and over again.

Trade shows & exhibitions event management

When you’re finished with the plan, you should choose the right event management team, along with useful tools and powerful analytics. It’s better to choose a platform that has many years of experience assisting clients in the planning and coordinating of trade shows and other large-scale events with an extensive range of onsite solutions.

Planning checklist

In addition to tips for strategy development, creating a unique culture, identifying ways to attract an audience, and the importance of corporate event design, be ready to come up with a clear trade show event checklist.

  • Decide the budget
  • Define the event objectives
  • Decide on  the format and theme
  • Develop a program
  • Create a guest list
  • Send out invitations
  • Find a space
  • Select your ticketing or registration platform
  • Approach sponsors, if any
  • Take care of marketing and advertising, if required
  • Identify and hire other vendors
  • Delegate responsibilities
  • Keep staff well-informed
  • Make final preparations
  • Decide on what you will do after an event
  • Choose suitable ROI metrics to analyse
  • Make post-event reports

In the end, analyse all marketing campaigns conducted earlier in parallel with the current trade show event, and create a detailed schedule to track event improvement.

Trade shows & exhibitions event ideas

To make your trade fair original and unforgettable for your audience, come up with creative ideas for how to arrange it.

Tips for success

Here are 6 pro tips for trade show success you should rely on:

Set clear goals and objectives & build the strategy

Decide on the goal: do you want to convey knowledge to participants, thank your partners, raise money for a project, or deliver aesthetic pleasure to your guests? The format of your event will depend on the answers to these questions.

Plan your event at each step

Consider logistics, content and promotion of the trade show. It’s important to indicate the timelines required to complete the tasks in order for the event planning to be successful.

Select the right venue

Always double-check and visit the location/venue you’re going to rent.

Make your event exciting

During registration, you can give participants the opportunity to attend a short master class, play games, or watch informative videos. Try to surprise people and create that wow effect by exceeding their expectations in even the most ordinary things. This is what creates a memorable atmosphere in an event.

Remind your attendees of events

The type of event, its target audience, internal resources and the overall budget will determine your marketing approach. Use emails and send out printed invitations.  Do not underestimate the time required to successfully promote the event.

Follow up and thank them

If possible, collect feedback via social networks or record video reviews at the end of the event. This will be very useful if your event will be organised again, such as an annual expo.

Tools that will help to manage your event

This a top-quality tool list that features the most recent and best event marketing and management tools for trade shows, expos, and other large-scale events. Enjoy!

  • GEVME: This is a cloud-based solution for all your event marketing and management needs. One of the marketing tools from GEVME that organises event processes is available on a single event organisation and management platform.
  • Certain: Certain is the main enterprise that helps information-driven advertisers and event experts coordinate high goal sales to enhance deals, sales, and marketing results better.
  • Attend: This tool is changing the manner in which marketing and sales groups approach face-to-face connections at events.
  • Rainfocus: This is another platform for transforming event management into event marketing by creating software solutions that understand event data, enhance sales, and aid event marketers with their marketing reach.
  • A social media wall.

You may also use tools like Google templates, Asana, Trello, Podio, GanttPro or Teamweek for planning. Basically, use anything except a regular Excel document!

Ensure your trade show success

We can confidently say that a properly planned show in any corner of the world will guarantee success and demonstrate the best work of an event manager. Note that a trade show planning checklist will be your best supporter, alongside a good event management tool and useful event planning tips. Additionally, there are so many creative formats and venues, themes, and ideas to apply in your trade show, so take your time when considering which to use. Create your trade show business plan and explore how Gevme event management software can help you to execute it. Good luck!

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