Trade Show Booth Essentials

Being prepared with all of the proper trade show booth essentials is the foundation for success for trade show exhibitors. Sure, you're going to bring your trade show booth. But what else should you bring? Failure to pack key trade show supplies can negatively impact your company’s professional image and can quickly cost a lot more than it should, if supplies have to be purchased onsite or delivered to you via expedited shipping.

Below are some of the most important show accessories to have on your check list, as well as the trade show booth essentials to remember to pack up with you, as you prepare for your next expo.

trade show flooring carpet

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1) Carpet or Other Flooring MaterialCarpeting or flooring adds comfort, color and distinction to your display. Remember, even in a small, 10x10 booth, that's 100SF that you could have branded - this should be a consideration. also, by investing in your own booth flooring, you can save on costly carpet rental fees at trade shows. Most purchased trade show flooring options include better (read, softer) floors, which can be noticeably more comfortable for  your visitors, and less wearing for your booth staff.

2) Furniture: If you have a large enough booth, then comfortable seating and a place to chat is a must for trade show exhibitors and their visitors. In fact, comfortable looking furniture or a phone charging station can often lure weary attendees into your booth. (But if you have a 10x10 booth, space probably does not permit adding furniture. And please, don't get chairs for your staff to lounge on; they should be up and moving around constantly. Visitors will simply not approach a seated exhibitor as often as someone that is standing.)

3) Accent Lighting: You can use lighting to draw attendees’ attention to new products on display and to brighten the appearance of your booth. Or check out a backlit booth or a few lights to go on top of your banners and graphics. Lighting catches the eye and directs the focus. And you typically only have one shot, as they stroll past, and only a few seconds to catch their eye. Take advantage of lighting as a tool to highlight your branding and attract more attention and visibility. 

4) Trade Show Backdrop or Banner Stands: Smaller pop-up displays, banner stands and graphics towers are effective means of advertising your brand to your customers. And these smaller displays can serve as emergency backup if your full exhibit backdrop gets lost or damaged on the way to the show - and believe me, that does happen! So have a plan for it.

5) Monitor with Support Stand: Monitors are useful for displaying your products that you cannot have on hand at the booth. They are also an eye-catching way to showcase a product demonstration. So be sure to consider using monitors and other digital displays to leverage your trade show marketing. We offer over a hundred options in stand-alone demo stations if you're in need.

6) Counters to Display Products: You will need counter-top space if you plan to display smaller products. Some counters are quite portable, several shipping cases can even become your counter. Larger booth spaces will need reception counters. And most booths need hidden storage for coats and bags - these can all go into a couple of counters in your booth. 

7) Literature Rack:  If you will have catalogs and product specifications sheets on hand, bring a collapsible literature rack to organize and display these items.

8) Vacuum Cleaner: The booth setup process is often a messy one. Dust and packing debris can accumulate on your carpet and create an unprofessional appearance. Adding a small portable vacuum cleaner to your list of trade show booth essentials can help you avoid costly cleaning fees.

9) Portable Steamer: If you have any tension fabric graphics, they get wrinkled at some point. A portable steamer ($20 or so from Amazon or a local store) can quickly restore them to their former glory.

10) Cleaning Supplies: Be sure to include a package of wet wipes and surface cleaner in your tool kit, so that after you complete the setup process in your booth, you can thoroughly wipe down your products, furniture and counter-tops. (Include glass cleaner with rags and paper towels for any rigid graphics, Clorox wipes and paper towels for counters.)

11) Tool Kit: When packing for your trade show, you should pack a mobile tool kit that includes a hammer, wrenches, screw driver (Phillips head and regular). You should also include a crow bar and nails if you use crates to ship your products. And some zip ties and duct tape; practically indispensable for many quick fixes (ask MacGyver … anything can be fixed with duct tape!) Also, a utility knife, a tape measure, and of course, some Velcro tape with peel off adhesive backing (both hook and loop) - it’s a trade show necessity for all kinds of graphic emergencies. 

12) Backup Light Bulbs and Batteries: If you have lighting in your booth, be sure to include backup light bulbs in your list of trade show booth essentials, as well as extra batteries if you use a wireless mouse or keyboard in your demos.

13) Hand Sanitizer: You will likely shake a lot of hands at your next trade show. Do not forget to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer to help protect yourself from germs and illness.

14) First-aid kit: pain relievers, band-aids, disinfectant, cotton pads, burn cream, throat lozenges. It is easy to develop aches and pains when you are on your feet working all day. Keep some quick relief on hand in case you or your colleagues develop a headache or backache.

15) Mints: Keep your breath fresh and clean by making sure you have a nice supply of mints or gum on hand.

16) Bottled water -- Not to be consumed in the booth - never eat or drink in your booth! But do bring water, it's cheaper than buying water at the show.

17) Client Giveaways: Samples, freebies, and trinkets are always a hit with customers. Do not put them all on display at once or you will run the risk of exhausting your supply early! And bring extras, in case demand is higher than anticipated. (Small hand sanitizer bottles and mints branded with your company name are inexpensive, and probably greatly appreciated by your visitors, who likely can use both as much as you can!)

18) Calculator: Make sure to bring a calculator or feel comfortable operating the calculator on your phone in case you need to confirm the accuracy of a quotation for a client.

19) Staplers: You may want at least two staplers on hand to attach client business cards to quotes and to staple literature together for customers. Include extra pens (they tend to "walk away" at the show) and sticky notes or a notepad, so you don't forget anything important.

20) Business Card Holder: You will collect a lot of business cards during trade shows. Be sure to keep them organized with a business card holder. And be sure you have plenty of your own business cards; you don't want to run out because it's a good show!

21) Credit Card Reader: It is not uncommon for customers to place orders during trade shows to take advantage of special expo pricing. In these cases, you will want to have a credit card reader or cell phone app ready to process deposits.

22) Shipping Tape: Pack a tape gun with a spare roll of tape so that you can properly secure products in their boxes after the expo for safe transport back to the office.

23) Change of Clothing: A change of clothing and a pair of gym shoes are great to have on hand at the end of the expo when it is time to pack up your display and head home.

For more, check out our tips for industry trade shows and how to quickly get a prospect's attention.