Five Things An Exhibitor Should Never Do

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

If you’re setting up a booth at a conference or trade show, you’re there to connect with people. You’re interested in one of two things: selling a product, or connecting with people who’d be interested in buying from you (or working with you).  Both are pretty important, right?

Today, we’re going to be going over a few of the biggest – and most common flubs – exhibitors tend to make on the show floor. If you’re an exhibitor, have a read-through to make sure you aren’t committing any of these mistakes yourself. And if you’re an event planner, well…you can probably use this list to figure out which exhibitors you don’t want to invite to attend your events a second time.

As with some of my previous pieces, we’ll be drawing on the Event Manager Blog for this post – it’s an excellent resource, and I’d highly recommend following it if you aren’t doing so already.

Ignore The Exhibitor’s Manual

Every event is different – which is why it’s vital that you familiarize yourself with the specifics of each conference you attend as an exhibitor. You don’t want to come across as clueless, nor do you want to assume something will be provided to you only to discover at the last minute that you were expected to take care of things yourself. Read through the materials you’re given, and ensure that you understand how everything works.

Fail To Make A Good Impression

As an exhibitor, image is everything. If you’ve got a booth that looks shoddy or half-cocked, staff that are too shy (or brash), or products that are a poor representation of your brand, then you probably aren’t going to meet with much success on the show floor. As the Event Manager Blog’s Becki Cross advises, you want to choose confident, friendly, knowledgeable, and – most importantly – professional staff to run your booth, all knowledgeable about the products and services your brand offers.

Oh, and speaking of your booth? Make sure it’s clear what your organization does. I can’t count the number of exhibitors I’ve seen at conventions who give absolutely no indication of what they do on their marketing. Make sure you’ve got some stuff people can take with them, too – I’m talking brochures, informational fliers, business cards…you get the idea.

Leave Early – Or Don’t Show Up At All

I recently attended a convention in Edmonton. On my first day there, I saw a vendor on the floor that immediately caught my attention. Unfortunately, I was en route to watch a presentation, and I didn’t really have time to stop in for a word. When I returned the next day, whoever owned the booth had apparently decided to simply pack up and go home.

Had they stayed, they would’ve had a guaranteed sale – and possibly even a repeat customer.

If you’re exhibiting at an event, you’re in it for the full span – not for a day or two.


Go In Without A Plan

I’ve always maintained that you can’t really accomplish anything if you don’t plan ahead at least a little.  This is doubly true if you’re attending an event as a vendor or exhibitor. You need to hammer out exactly what you’re looking to achieve with your attendance before you find yourself on the floor. Otherwise, you’re going to end up being disorganized and unfocused – losing out on a whole ton of potential leads.

Work Without Regard For Efficiency

Once again, Cross has the right of it – if someone’s at an event or exhibition, they want to make the most of their time there. They don’t want to be sitting in front of you for several minutes while you record their personal information (or have them record it for you). At most, take down an email, or provide guests with a business card – if you’ve twenty different forms to fill out, you’ll probably leave an event with fewer than twenty different leads.

In terms of efficiency, you also need to ensure that you and your staff work quickly. Set your booth up as fast as you can (without messing things up), and make sure you’ve an ironclad elevator pitch that you can use to explain your brand to anyone who asks. Again, time is of the essence here.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

I’ve always found it a little shocking how many exhibitors seem to mess things up when the time comes to go out onto the floor. It’s even more shocking that the stuff they flub is completely basic.  Hopefully, this piece can help at least a few exhibitors get more out of their events by making them realize what they’re doing wrong.