Condit Exhibits Design Team

Tips for First-Time Exhibitors: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

New to Exhibiting? We’ve Wrangled Some Advice From Our Tradeshow Team

It can be the Wild West out there!

We asked our account executives and account managers what tips, tricks, and hard truths they’d pass to new exhibitors and tradeshow managers as they saddle up for their first event.


1. Pack Emergency Supplies & List Contacts

Expect the unexpected, partner.

“Pack an emergency showfloor kit, with essentials like scissors, a Sharpie, Velcro strips, batteries, charging cables, a flash drive, Band-Aids, Tylenol, gum, water bottle, etc. You just never know when these items might save the day!”

“Keep some showsite tools on hand during set up: a box cutter, a measuring tape, and a fold-down wagon.”

“Prepare before your show by saving all show and vendor contacts to your phone to save time in a pinch. Download or print out your schedule, orders, and notes to have on hand for when you or others need to reference them.”

“Have print-outs of your badge/QR code, summary sheet, event quick facts, and a floor plan.”

“Bring a wi-fi hotspot. The internet can be very unreliable, and the official contractor might not activate services until the day before the show opens.”

“Take an Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare service to show site for each day of the show – it will save you a lot of time!”


2. Set and Maximize Your Budget

Count your coins.

“Figure out your budget, even if it means pressing the money folks at your company to come up with a number. They may be reluctant to share it, but they always have a budget. In the case where you really don’t know what things cost, ask your exhibit partner for some advice on typical exhibit spend.”

“Share your budget with your exhibit provider. In general, they’re not going to try to spend every penny you’ve allocated, but so many times exhibit designers, if they don’t have a budget, will design something wonderful that accommodates all your wishes, but that ends up being something your event marketing program can’t necessarily afford.”

“New clients often throw a number out there without considering just what they are budgeting.  Exhibit costs will include the structure itself (purchase or rental) and graphics (always a purchase) – and if the project is purchase, add crates. Then come the services, installation and dismantle, transportation, material handling, electrical, cleaning, staffing, literature, and possibly more. It’s possible to overestimate what you can spend on the exhibit itself only to be disappointed when the other components are factored in.”


3. Staff Up For Exhibit Installation & Dismantling

Avoid a showsite showdown.

“Rely on professional help! Regardless of what size and type of booth you are planning on using at the show, working with an exhibit house on both the construction and the show services will ensure success and decrease your stress until you get the hang of things and are confident in placing orders yourself.”

“Always have a plan B in mind with delicate or complicated activations or activities. It’s not easy to get more materials once at show site, so bring anything nonstandard with you.”

“Don’t assume that you will be able to hand carry items into the hall. General contractors strictly enforce material handling rules and trying to ‘outsmart the system’ usually doesn’t pan out. Plan accordingly for these costs.”

“During install, the showfloor will feel very chaotic and hectic! Be sure to locate the hall entrance, the service desk, and the nearest bathrooms. And don’t worry about throwing your booth trash into the aisles – the cleaning crew will work overnight to make it spotless in the morning!”

“Post-show is just as important as pre-show. Make sure to communicate any special shipping instructions, packing instructions, items to keep/discard or items to be fixed/repaired/modified before the next show. Set up a debrief meeting to receive and provide feedback.”


4. Highlight & Plan For Dates, Deadlines, Rules, and Regulations

Keep on the right side of the law.

“Triple check dates, addresses, and deadlines – mistakes with these items can be very costly and impact your whole presence at the show.”

“Always order show services before the discount deadlines. Ordering services onsite will increase costs.”

“Be patient and flexible. Large shows with numerous exhibitors means possible delays in labor, rigging and other services ordered. Everything can and will get done before show opens, but be prepared that it may not happen on a strict timeline.”

“Read show rules and regulations carefully as the show organizers have the ability to make changes or shut down your booth if you don’t adhere to their rules.”


5. Craft Your Unique Exhibit Design

Make hay while your booth shines!

“Graphic design can make or break a small booth! Keep your message short and sweet. Use bold colors and imagery. Make it obvious what your company sells. Maybe even aim to surprise and delight with an unexpected twist!”

“Getting your booth needs from the show decorator is not always the best solution, or the best cost savings. Why have a cookie cutter exhibit?”

“Check the competition. What are they doing well or poorly? How will you stand out from the pack?”

“Walk a couple tradeshows before deciding your exhibit needs and take notes on the type of exhibit you want/need. This can also be done with one of our team members. Stand out against the crowd!”

“If you are planning to design and build a new exhibit, start at least 6 months out.”

Modular booths are in, consider creating a booth that can serve multiple purposes and accommodate different sizes of booth spaces. Convert your 10×20 to a 10×10 for another show and save money!”

“The padding under the carpet or vinyl flooring within the booth is worth the investment – cut costs elsewhere if needed. Your visitors and the team standing in the booth all day will thank you!”


6. Mail Incidentals To Your Hotel

Don’t forget the Pony Express.

“My best advice for first-time exhibitors is to plan how you are going to get all of your small packages to the show. Consider either sending them to your hotel (most will hold packages up to 30 days prior to your arrival), or make arrangements to have them delivered in time to ship with the booth so you know these small items will arrive safely.”

“Sending 15 small FedEx packages direct to show can be very costly as most shows charge a per box fee. This fee can be as high as $100 or more. Worse, there is no real guarantee that these packages will actually find their way to your booth. When FedEx or UPS delivers a huge shipment to showsite, the entire truckload is signed for by someone on the dock for the convention center or hotel. If your package goes missing, it is virtually impossible to track it down, and your flyers or giveaways that you spent money to purchase and express ship are gone, and now you’re scrambling in a strange city trying to replace them last minute! A little bit of advance planning saves thousands of dollars and a lot of headache.”


7. Pack Appropriate Footwear

Cowboy boots not recommended.

“Wear comfortable shoes and leave fashion at home!”

“Bring multiple pairs of shoes you can wear onsite and swap them out each day. It makes a huge difference when you’re on your feet that much!”




There’s a new sheriff in town… YOU!

Graduate from greenhorn to trailblazer with the help of our exhibit experts. Ready to set out on your next adventure? Start a project online today.



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