How to Plan a Trade Show?

How to Plan a Trade Show? 13 Key Elements for Success 

How to Plan a Trade Show?

Many times, when a client comes to us, they ask us about the importance of planning and marketing a trade show participation. But before we get into that, let’s have a look at some data:

In such scenarios, it’s recommended to plan your trade shows effectively. The trade show planning is full of complexities, and so is full of excitement. 

So we’ve compiled this detailed guide to trade show planning that includes understanding market trends, setting goals, planning a budget, choosing the right booth designs, training your team, marketing your event, and post-event activities.

Let's get started.

Exhibitors’ Step-by-Step Guide for How to Plan a Trade Show Participation

There are many aspects you need to consider when planning a trade show. We have listed them all below for your reference. 

1. Identify Target Audience and Market Trends

The first step to planning a trade show is to evaluate if the exhibition and its target audience resonate with your business model.

For example, if you are a tech company, exhibiting and sponsoring at a tech event would be more beneficial.

Moreover, you also need to figure out if the audience present at the expo would be interested in your services and solutions. 

Other than identifying the audience and their preferences at the event, you will need to see if your industry peers are exhibiting at the event. If yes, you will need to figure out creative ways to find and set your differentiator at the trade show. You can do that by identifying the existing gap between demand and supply. 

For example, you may learn that there’s enough demand for a particular tech product, but the existing ones are not affordable for all customers. In that case, you can come up with a product that is affordable and fulfills the customers' requirements.

Additionally, consider asking yourself these seven questions when finalizing a trade show to participate in:

  • Key Questions for Trade Show PlanningIs the trade show aligned with our business niche and industry?
  • Does the target audience at the event match our ideal customer profile?
  • Will attendees likely be interested in the specific products or services we offer?
  • Are there potential clients or business partners present who align with our goals?
  • Does the trade show cater to the demographic we aim to reach with our marketing efforts?
  • Is the event's theme or focus in sync with our brand message and values?
  • Are there competitors at the trade show, and if so, how can we set ourselves apart from them?

2. Set Clear Goals and Objectives

Deciding clear goals and objectives is the next step in planning a trade show. These goals and objectives further decide the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of marketing success.

Trade Show Goals

Consider one or multiple goals/objectives from the below list for your trade show event.

  • Lead Generation 
  • Brand Awareness 
  • Product or Service Launch 
  • Networking 
  • Sales and Revenue
  • Market Research
  • Educational Outreach 
  • Media Exposure 
  • Customer Engagement and 
  • Brand Positioning  

Once you have decided what will be the focus for this event, you need to be more clear and set measurable metrics for the same.

For example, if you have decided to generate leads from the trade show, you will need to get further clear about how many leads you are planning to capture.

Setting numbers and defining what success looks like guides you in planning your marketing strategy accordingly. 

3. Estimate the Overall Budget for the Trade Show

The next step of planning trade shows covers budgeting. Consider factors like exhibit space, exhibit design + graphics, material shipping + transport, off-show floor promotions, lead management & measurement, exhibit staff training, show services, travel + entertainment, on-site promotional materials, on-site sponsorship + advertising, and other expenses.

It’s recommended to allocate the required budget for each aspect to get the best possible results. Most of your trade show budget gets spent on exhibit space, while other major expenses get counted for marketing, promotion, and travel activities.

You can refer to the chart below for a better understanding of trade show budgeting:

Budgeting Your Show

One thing that annoys and frustrates trade show managers is the ambiguity of how much their booth will cost and post-show billings.

However, there’s good news! When you choose Pure Exhibits as your booth rental partners, you get a clear idea about the prices with fixed rents with no post-event billings!

Plus, you get to choose from a range of visually appealing booth designs that grab the attention of attendees, resulting in improved brand visibility and awareness.

Check our range of booth rentals here!

4. Select the Right Location in the Hall

Having a booth at the right location matters a lot while exhibiting at a trade show. To choose the best booth space for your organization, consider its accessibility from all the gates and doors, how near/far it is from the center, and how much footfall the location can have. Scrutinize the floor plan and explore budget-friendly options. Consider the facilities and amenities offered by organizers to assess the value compared to the fees.

Moreover, consider logistics aspects like the ease of transporting goods at the event and the availability of storage and set-up areas to accommodate materials. 

Here is the list of aspects you should consider while evaluating the value of the exhibition: 

Aspects to evaluate the value of the exhibition

  • Booth Space and Standard Components: Allocated booth space with basic furnishings.
  • Electrical and Wi-Fi Services: Access to electrical outlets and reliable Wi-Fi.
  • Event Signage and Branding: Inclusion of event signage and branding opportunities.
  • Registration and Badge Services: Registration support and provision of badges.
  • Security and Safety Measures: On-site security and emergency response plans.
  • Cleaning and Waste Management: Regular cleaning and waste management services.
  • Networking and Lounge Areas: Designated networking spaces and exhibitor lounges.
  • Catering and Refreshment Services: Access to catering and refreshment areas.
  • Technical Support and AV Equipment: Technical support and access to AV equipment.
  • Storage and Setup Areas: Designated storage and efficient setup areas.

5. Create an Eye-Catching Booth Design

Crafting an attention-grabbing booth design is crucial in trade show planning. Ensure the booth aligns with your branding, incorporating colors, imagery, and layout guidelines that speak the brand story and attract the right visitors.

Additionally, have a booth structure that facilitates easy movement and exploration of your products/services/solutions.

However, you should maintain comfortable spaces and a balanced, symmetrical visual composition to present a polished and inviting aesthetic. Don’t overdo branding that harms your booth's User Experience (UX).

For example, you can consider Namely’s trade show booth, designed by Pure Exhibits, which have all the elements needed to attract the right visitors. 

Create an Eye-Catching Booth Design

Moreover, we have also built PROMIXs booth at MjBizCon Las Vegas! You can check the YouTube video to get its vibe! 👇

Want to create the same experience for your trade show booths?

Get in touch with our team today

6. Train Your Team for a Smooth Attendee Experience

Your team’s presentation and convincing skills matter as much as branding elements in your booth and other marketing materials.

If your team can not provide adequate information about your services or solutions to the attendees, it’s not worth bringing them to your booth.

To train your team well enough, provide them with in-depth knowledge about your product/services and encourage them to research use cases and case studies of your offerings.

Plus, you can also practice role-play and handle the potential objectives of your clients to handle them effectively in real-time at the time of the expo.

Equipping your sales team with the right knowledge and adequate confidence provides a better experience for the attendees while closing more deals for your organization. 

7. Create Marketing and Promotional Materials

Moving forward, focus on designing impactful marketing materials. Think brochures, business cards, flyers, and giveaways to amplify your organization's reach.

While designing, ensure your materials convey your brand messaging effectively. Include creative punchlines and slogans in your marketing materials to leave lasting impressions on your attendees.

Based on the footfall predictions, you can print enough marketing material to distribute among the visiting attendees.

When you don’t have enough marketing materials, you miss a chance to provide your attendees with tangible reminders of your organization, which may harm the post-event recall and potential business opportunities.

Lastly, striking the right balance between variety and quantity in your marketing materials enhances its effectiveness in creating a lasting impact at the trade show.

8. Promote Your Presence Rigorously

Today, the whole world is on social media and so your event marketing efforts should be. Promoting your presence at a trade show requires regular engaging updates on multiple social media platforms like LinkedIn, X, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Keep your audience engaged and curious by throwing some behind-the-scenes snapshots of your preparation and letting the beans out slowly. You can also partner up with your industry influencers to get buzz around your event. Make your marketing more aggressive and interactive as the final day approaches. 

9. Plan Attendee Engagement Activities

Gamifying is an amazing way to engage your attendees and make your event the center of attention among attendees. You can plan interactive games or quizzes around your offerings to keep attendees curious and engaged throughout their meetings with you.

If the budget and space allow, you can also strategically place an interactive display within your booth. These displays provide a fun and informative experience to your visitors.

Other than interactive elements, you can also have Live demonstrations to offer hands-on experiences of your services/product’s functionality and offerings. It’s recommended to keep these demonstrations dynamic and participatory, encouraging questions and interactions among attendees.

Interactive activities and gamification not only create memorable experiences but also allow you to build better connections with your potential clients.

10. Develop a Contingency Plan

Trade shows aren't flawless, so craft an emergency plan for a seamless experience. Identify potential hiccups - tech issues, staffing concerns, or logistical hurdles and devise backup plans accordingly.

For example, you can have spare equipment and tech support contacts if tech equipment starts acting inappropriately in between. Similarly, you can have alternative plans for transportation delays or setup complications.

Having a well-thought-out plan ensures that you can say, “The show must go on,” without any stress or frustration. 

11. Ensure a Smooth Setup and Dismantling Process

Communicating effectively with your trade show organizer is another important aspect contributing to successfully planning a trade show. You can establish clear communication and coordination by learning about logistic details, the location of your booth, accessible utilities, and specific guidelines for setup.

Moreover, create a detailed timeline that outlines each step of the setup and breakdown process. Take into account the time for multiple tasks like booth assembly, equipment setup, branding installation, and dismantling process. 

Plus, you can assign specific responsibilities to your team members to distribute the work, responsibilities, and schedules.  It’s recommended to keep buffer times for unexpected delays or complications. 

When you proactively coordinate with event organizers, you minimize the likelihood of hiccups during the event.

Generally, you don’t have to get involved in such coordination when you partner with rental booth partners like Pure Exhibits. We do it all for you - starting from booth installation to booth setup and dismantling. Focus on the work that matters the most by choosing the right trade show rental booth company today. 

12. Keep Lead Capture Tools Handy

Capturing leads is vital for trade show success. Use tools like mobile apps, QR code scanners, or electronic forms to streamline attendee information collection. Educate your team on these tools for effective use.

Also, ensure these tools are integrated with your team’s devices for seamless data capture.

However, organizations often fail to get important data from their attendees. In such cases, you can incentivize attendees to share their information by offering them access to premium content or a special discount on your premium product or services. When you incentivize information sharing, you not only get more leads but also get to nurture them through your marketing funnels.

13. Post-Event Follow-Up

The event doesn’t end on the day it ends. Nurture connections post-event by reaching out through personalized emails or other channels. Express gratitude for their visit with a note that goes beyond the generic "thanks."

You can share valuable information or resources like a webinar’s link to add extra value to their life.

Sharing such insightful notes becomes a way to keep the conversation going even after the trade show buzz wears off with increased chances of lead converting.

Remember, exhibiting at the show is not just about being present at the trade show; it’s about turning those connections into lasting relationships.

Top 4 Mistakes to Avoid While Planning a Trade Show Exhibition

Though you have an overview of how to plan a trade show, there are some mistakes that you should avoid at any cost to make your trade show experience even better and smoother.

Trade Show Planning Tips

Go through the list to ensure you get the best possible experience ever. 

1. Underestimating Lead Time

Allocate at least 4 to 6 weeks for seamless planning of a trade show while avoiding limited choices and higher costs. 

2. Not Testing Technology Sufficiently

Test all technical equipment before getting them to the trade show and avoid presentation glitches, connectivity issues, and overall tech-related disruptions.

3. Overlooking Legal Compliance

Adhere to event regulations to prevent fines, penalties, or even expulsion. Communicate with the organizer beforehand about policies. 

4. Overlooking Booth Visibility

Your booth goes unnoticed when designed and placed poorly. Choose a high-traffic area and an appealing design to attract more visitors.

Make Your Trade Show a Grand Success with Meticulous Planning

The one thing that we can say with confidence is that pulling off a killer trade show isn’t about luck - it’s about sweating the details and planning like a champ.

Every little thing, from knowing your audience to designing a booth that turns heads, plays a starring role in how your exhibition rocks.

Trust us, missing even one piece of the puzzle can throw everything off.

At Pure Exhibits, we have been helping businesses like yours to design and build amazing booths that get more visibility and footfall to your stall. Our six-step rental booth process makes it easier for you to design a booth that fits your budget without any post-show billings! Get the best trade show booth rentals in Las Vegas and rock your exhibition today!

Have got questions or need guidance building a trade show booth? Contact us either at or +1 800-379-8451 to get started now! 


1. How long does it take to plan a trade show?

The time to prepare for a trade show varies depending on your unique circumstances. In general, 4 to 5 weeks is a safe ground to start with. Contact a trade show booth designer to get precise timelines. 

2. What makes a successful trade show?

There are many factors that contribute to a successful trade show, including a booth that wows people, fun stuff for attendees, and killer promos before and after. The lasting impression on attendees can measure the success of your trade show. 

3. What is the average budget for a trade show?

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to trade show budget. The budget for a trade show depends on the booth size, location, and design of the booth. 

4. How to design a trade show booth?

To design a booth, incorporate branding elements, nail the layout, and have your services/products in the center of the design to provide a smooth user experience.



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