Tips For Crisis Management in Trade Shows

9 Tips For Crisis Management in Trade Shows

Tips for crisis management in trade shows

Exhibiting at a trade show is one of the most exciting and thrilling business activities you can do to grow your business, as it offers immense opportunities for growth and networking.

However, with every good, there’s the possibility of challenges. You may have done your best to make the exhibition successful, but you may still face external objections and hurdles while executing your strategies. In such scenarios, it is important to learn about crisis management in trade shows. Your ability to manage crises at a trade show holds the power to turn a failing event into a successful one. 

This blog post will help you discover various types of crises you may face at a trade show while providing you with comprehensive roadmaps to handle these emergencies effectively - be it technical glitches, logistical hiccups, or unforeseen health and safety concerns. 

But, let’s first understand what crises you may face during a trade show.

What Crisis May Happen at a Trade Show While Exhibiting?

While exhibiting at a trade show, you may be faced with multiple types of crises. Here are some of the most common crises that you need to be prepared for: 

Crisis may happen at a trade show

  • Technical Failures:

The technical crisis at the trade show includes challenges like malfunctions of equipment or technology you are going to use for presentations and demonstrations.

  • Logistical Challenges:

Going forward, you may also face a crisis related to logistics that includes hurdles like shipping delays, lost materials, or booth setup issues.

  • Staffing Issues:

In a staffing-related crisis for the trade show, you may face challenges like unexpected staff absences on the day of the exhibition or a lack of training for the staff members. 

  • Health and Safety Concerns:

These encompass medical emergencies like accidents, or lapses in adhering to safety regulations, posing risks to attendees and staff.

  • Product or Service Issues:

You may face challenges such as defective products, negative feedback, or service-related issues, impacting brand reputation and customer satisfaction.

  • Security Incidents:

From theft to disruptive behavior, security incidents can disrupt the event's flow and jeopardize the safety of attendees and exhibitor assets.

  • Public Relations Challenges:

Negative publicity, social media backlash, or miscommunication can tarnish your image, requiring swift and strategic PR management.

  • Natural Disasters or Weather-related Issues:

The exhibition may face disruptions due to flooding, earthquakes, or adverse weather conditions, necessitating contingency plans to ensure attendee safety and event continuity.

  • Regulatory Compliance Issues:

Non-compliance with local regulations or event guidelines can lead to legal repercussions, affecting your participation and reputation.

  • Financial Challenges:

Budget overruns, unexpected expenses, or economic downturns can strain resources and impact an exhibitor's ability to effectively participate in the event. 

  • Competitive Challenges:

You may encounter aggressive competitor behavior or sudden market changes, requiring adaptability and strategic positioning to maintain a competitive edge.

  • Pandemic or Other Crises:

Health crises like pandemics or political instability can disrupt events, necessitating agile crisis management strategies to ensure safety and continuity.

As you now know these common crises you may come across while exhibiting at a trade show, here are nine practical and effective tips to manage them well. 

9 Tips for Crisis Management in Trade Shows

Tip #1 - Take Preventive Measures 

Prevention measures Source

When it comes to trade shows crisis management, the first step you need to take is prevention, which contains three steps - 

  • Risk Assessment: 

It is always recommended to conduct a thorough risk assessment a few days in advance at the trade show to identify potential pitfalls and vulnerabilities.

Imagine all the possible scenarios where sudden emergencies may arise and prepare yourself with the tools and backup plans to overcome them. 

  • Training: 

Once you have assessed the risk, it’s time to equip your staff with crisis response training, including evacuation plans, first aid, and communication protocols.

When your team has adequate training, they can effectively manage unforeseen medical emergencies with immediate assistance, showcasing professionalism while ensuring attendee safety.

  • Supportive Booth Design: 

Lastly, it is equally important to have a supportive booth design that has clear pathways, easy access to exits, and the ability to minimize potential hazards.

A well-designed booth not only attracts visitors but also prevents accidents, as it has clear signage and well-defined spaces to guide attendees safely through your exhibit. 

Tip #2 - Plan Your Communications

Communication plan checklistSource

Once you have taken all the preventive measures, the next step is to plan effective communications. Follow these three simple steps to nail your communications for crisis management at trade shows. 

  • Designate Spokesperson: 

In the time of a trade show crisis, having a designated spokesperson maintains consistency and control over external communications. A designated spokesperson can convey a unified message to the media, stakeholders, and attendees.

You can choose a senior and trustworthy employee from your team to manage the position of designated spokesperson. 

  • Internal Communication: 

Similar to external communications, it is equally important to have a system in place for internal communications to minimize confusion and maximize response efficiency.

To have strong internal communications, you can establish a clear plan and define specific roles within the team to keep everything synchronized during a crisis. 

  • Emergency Contacts: 

Other than the mentioned aspects, having an emergency contact list helps you with rapid response to the crisis. It’s recommended to have an easily accessible contact list of local authorities, venue staff, and key team members to call them up when you need an hour.

For example, if a health emergency occurs, you can leverage these emergency contacts to assist the attendees while prioritizing their well-being. 

Tip #3 - Have Technology and Logistics Backup

Have Technology and Logistics BackupSource

Going forward, the next thing you need is a technology and logistics backup to ensure the smooth and seamless execution of your plans in case of a crisis at the trade show. Consider the suggestions below for appropriate crisis management at the trade show.

  • Backup Solutions: 

Technical glitches are a nightmare for any exhibitors as they can disrupt the whole process. To avoid such hurdles, it’s important to have a backup plan that can help you get on the track quickly.

For a backup plan, you can maintain spare parts, chargers, batteries, and other equipment to face unpredictable situations.

So, for example, if a projector malfunctions during a crucial presentation, having a technical backup ensures you have alternatives ready to present your ideas without a hitch.

  • Logistical Backup: 

Other than technical backup, you should have logistic backup in place in case of shipping delays, lost materials, or booth setup issues. It’s recommended to prepare for challenges by outlining detailed contingency plans.

For example, if you want to have a backup plan for material delay challenges, you can have another plan that includes local sourcing to prevent booth setup delays and maintain a polished presentation.

Pro Tip: Hiring a rental booth service provider like Pure Exhibits is a smart way to avoid logistic hurdles, as we source from Las Vegas locally to provide you with a smooth experience! 

Tip #4 - Be Prepared with Medical Kits

first aid kit Source

The next thing you need to do for effective crisis management in trade shows is to be prepared with medical kits. Having a medical personnel contact list, along with regular drills and simulations, is a good place to start with. 

  • Medical Personnel Contact List: 

During medical emergencies at a trade show, access to medical assistance plays a crucial role. To make a medical personnel contact list, compile data on medical professionals, their names, phone numbers, and the services they provide.

Having this list ready will enable you to take needful actions faster and minimize the potential harm.

  • Regular Drills and Simulations: 

Besides the medical personnel list, basic familiarity with medical procedures is the key to efficient response amidst tough times. It enables your staff to provide assistance till the medical team arrives.

To have hands-on experience, conduct regular drills and simulations for staff by covering various emergency scenarios. This practice helps staff become more familiar with the procedures and increases response efficiency.

Moreover, during these practices, the staff can learn how to coordinate and react effectively when a real crisis arises. 

Tip #5 - Keep Monitoring and Stay Informed About Potential Threats 

Keep Monitoring and Stay Informed About Potential ThreatsSource

Moving further, the next thing you should consider for crisis management in trade shows is monitoring the surroundings and staying informed about potential threats. 

  • Stay Informed: 

Staying informed about the weather and external factors contributes greatly to the success and safety of your trade show presence. Keep an eye on the factors that might affect your event to prepare yourself well in advance.

For example, being aware of an incoming storm allows you to take preemptive measures, secure your booth, and ensure attendees' safety.

  • Stay in Touch With Event Organizers: 

The next step is to be in touch with trade show organizers to get the necessary information and support during unexpected situations. Regularly contact event organizers for any updates or assistance you may need.

Monitoring external factors and staying in touch with the right people make sure that you are ahead of the time to minimize disruption and maintain a professional image.

Tip #6 - Make Quick Decisions for the Next Action Plans 

Make Quick Decisions for the Next Action Plans Source

Your ability to make quick decisions regarding the next action plan decides how well you will be at crisis management in trade shows. Establishing protocols and delegating responsibilities are two pillars that will help you make quick decisions for the next action plans. 

  • Establish Protocols: 

In the heat of the crisis, having predefined protocols helps you and your team take the necessary steps faster. To establish protocols, you will first need to define them by considering various crisis scenarios. 

You can set multiple protocols for communication, evacuation, medical emergencies, technical failure, logistics challenges, security and regulatory compliance, and financial challenges protocol.

Having these pre-established protocols guides your team on immediate actions with better clarity and a sense of direction.

  • Delegate Responsibilities: 

Other than establishing protocols, it’s a good idea to delegate responsibilities as crisis management in trade shows requires a well-distributed workload. Being a responsible team member, it’s your duty to ensure no one is burdened with super heavy workloads.

For example, during a logistic hiccup, you can assign different responsibilities like communicating with vendors and managing on-site operations and finances to different people to ensure work gets done faster and more efficiently. 

Tip #7 - Healthy Customer and Media Relations

Healthy Customer and Media RelationsSource

Moving next, healthy customers and media relations need good attention during a crisis at the trade show. Follow these two aspects to build healthy customer and media relations. 

  • Transparent Communication: 

In testing times, having transparency builds trust and credibility with your stakeholders, attendees, and media houses. It is advisable to be open and honest in your communication to avoid future misunderstandings and disasters.

For example, if there’s any issue from your end, you should communicate it openly to help event organizers better understand your situation. Additionally, it’s recommended to keep your tone positive and hopeful in such situations.  

  • Social Media Monitoring: 

Social media can act quite sensitively if you fail to monitor the users’ crisis response on the platforms. Regularly monitor social media for negative feedback or misinformation, and if you find anything disturbing, respond promptly.

For example, if rumors or complaints spread on social media, you can take immediate action to resolve the situation at the earliest possible. 

Tip #8 - Consider Legal Compliance

Compliance Source

Sometimes, the crisis can be because of legal issues with your trade show organizer, or the crisis may lead you to some legal troubles - in such cases, considering legal compliance becomes necessary. 

  • Consult Legal Advisors: 

If you find yourself in legal trouble, the first step is to consult legal experts for their expertise. It can be about anything, from disputes with event organizers to facing challenges because of the harm done to you by other stakeholders or attendees.

A legal expert can guide you with their insights and potential resolutions in such situations. 

  • Regulatory Compliance: 

During a trade show crisis, ensure you are complying with the local regulations to avoid legal repercussions. Plus, it’s advisable that you regularly assess and ensure compliance with local regulations and guidelines to avoid trouble.

For example, before launching a new product at a trade show, do thorough regulatory compliance checks to help prevent legal issues related to product approval or safety standards.

Tip #9 - Evaluate Post-Crisis Well 



Last but not least, if you face any crisis during the trade show, it is important to evaluate and learn from it so that you can have better responses and management in the next exhibition. 

  • Review and Learn:

In the evaluation process, reviewing and learning play a crucial role as they help you enhance your future crisis management. Once the event is over, you can conduct a thorough review of the crisis and see how you could have done better. 

For example, if a technical glitch has arisen, you can assess how well the team has responded and what could be done differently from the next time to continuously improve. 

  • Update Plans:

Based on the lessons you have learned, you should update your plans to enhance their effectiveness. 

For example, if you feel that there were too many communication gaps in your event, you can update the plan to focus on implementing new communication protocols or training to address the gaps.

Manage Crisis Effectively at Trade Show to Nail Your Exhibition 

By knowing these empowering crisis management strategies for trade shows, we are sure you can level up your power game of managing unforeseen challenges better than before. Feel free to share this with your team members and network to plan your next strategy together. You can bookmark this page to come back and brush up on the knowledge every now and then.

If you are looking for an expert’s guidance for crisis management, you can always reach out to our experts at


1. Why is crisis management important for trade show exhibitors?

Exhibiting at a trade show demands you to be in a dynamic environment where multiple aspects contribute to the event’s success. In such cases, crisis management in trade shows becomes important because unforeseen challenges can affect your planning while harming your reputation and success. 

2. How can exhibitors effectively collaborate with event organizers and local authorities in managing crises?

To effectively collaborate with event organizers and local authorities, exhibitors can establish clear communication channels, share emergency plans, and proactively engage in smooth communication. 

3. How should exhibitors balance preparedness for crises while maintaining a positive and engaging presence at their trade show booth?

Exhibitors can strike a balance between preparedness for crises while maintaining a positive presence by integrating crisis response training for staff, having transparent communication plans, and implementing technology backups for the event. 

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