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temporary enclosed fabric buildings for CES event

If you’ve attended more than a few trade shows, you have probably encountered at least some of the following common trade show mistakes, made by even experienced exhibitors. Event organizers aren’t off the hook, either, sometimes wondering afterward why attendance and sales dropped this year. Whether you’re a planner or an exhibitor, be aware of the potential pitfalls of executing a trade show.

Not Having a Solid Pre-Show Marketing Plan

Whether you’re exhibiting or organizing a trade show or convention, implementing a solid marketing plan is crucial for making sure prospective exhibitors and attendees know about your event and follow through. Generate excitement about your show with a carefully planned email campaign. Build interest by highlighting exhibits and events and offering early bird discounts or other enticements. Send reminders as deadlines grow closer and, if possible, target your messages to differently invested segments of your audience (those who have not responded, those who have shown interest but have not yet signed on, those who have purchased tickets and so on).

Generously use social media marketing to get the word out and send last minute event reminders. If you want to expand your audience, consider using Facebook or a similar advertising platform to reach your target industry or demographic.

Update your website information and include a dedicated landing page or pages about the event that you can link to in your email and social media campaigns. Make sure the page gives visitors a chance to sign up, buy a ticket, or send you an inquiry. Check that all dates and details are correct and that your contact information for the event is easy to find and up to date.

Failing to Confirm Exhibitor and Buyer Attendance

young woman planning a marketing trade show making a cell phone call on her desk

One large event promoter who had organized fashion trade shows for a number of years failed to pay attention to the last-minute cancellations of two top exhibitors at a major international fashion show in 2012. Some buyers who attended the show were surprised and understandably disappointed, staying away from the same event the following year. If the organizing agency  proactively had tried to get a handle on the “big names” pulling out and worked harder to win them back, or find comparable replacements, they might have avoided experiencing reduced attendance the following year.

Confirming participation of special guests or exhibitors as well as buyers raises the quality of the event and sends a message to the marketplace that your event is one that can be counted on to deliver.

Lack of Follow-Up

    • Exhibitors – Customers are why you exhibited at this show in the first place, so be sure to send out emails or other forms of follow-up as soon as possible. Usually sending them within 24 – 48 hours after the end of the event is best. You want to keep your name in front of your new contacts while their interest is high, hopefully making them lifetime customers.
    • Organizers – Feedback from participants is critical to running a good show. Sending questionnaires or, better yet, taking the time to visit each booth personally and ask how the exhibitors are doing not only creates goodwill but will give you a firsthand idea of what’s working and what isn’t. A follow-up survey of exhibitors soon after the event closes will help you make next year even better and, because they know you are interested in helping make their experience better and more successful, make your exhibitors more likely to return.

Untrained Booth Staffers

young man in trade show booth making a presentation

While we’re all short of staff, it’s a big mistake for any exhibitor to employ booth staffers who aren’t knowledgeable about the products or services offered, or who fail to approach open-ended questions with a helpful, enthusiastic attitude and prompt answers. Attentive service to each customer’s unique needs is what sets successful exhibitors apart from those who go home with blank sales books. Trade show exhibitors have a lot of competition on show day and visitors will move on quickly if not engaged. Be sure your staffers are the competent and passionate, that they’re well-trained beforehand, and that they understand their roles and your expectations for their performance.

Lack of Contingency Planning

Life happens, even at trade shows. Power cuts, internet outages, storms, and other unexpected catastrophes can wreak havoc on even otherwise well-planned venues. Having a contingency plan for addressing problems like these ahead of time can turn a show from an unsalvageable disaster to a bumpy but worthwhile experience. Make sure your team has put together a backup plan (preferably in writing) to deal with disruptive unforeseen events.

Planning at the Last Minute

Waiting until the last minute to plan for venue location, date selection, activity agendas, exhibitor spaces, and other factors is a recipe for trouble. Contacting hotel and other venues early to determine availability and secure space and favorable room rates will help avoid disasters like space shortages or expensive room rates that will scare away participants. Other conflicting events in the same area, such as sports or conventions, may play havoc with finding a suitable space for your exhibitors and attendees, so do adequate research and decide on a date and location before planning and booking early.

Failing to get The Right Exhibition Space or Trade Show Building

temporary engineered fabric building being used as movie set

The quality and location of your trade show venue can make all the difference in the success of your event. Choosing a space that is too small, or with poor lighting or location, can spoil the ambiance and suppress attendance. Your exhibitors may leave dissatisfied with the volume of traffic they put all their effort into getting.

Whether you’re planning an exhibition, trade show, convention, or similar event, Allsite’s versatile and spacious tension fabric structures can provide the hard-to-find space you need while keeping costs down and creating the right space to allow your exhibitors to shine.

Temporary fabric structures provide ample, uninterrupted indoor space for trade show exhibits or registration and reception space, as well as performance space for concerts, sports or other public or private events. High ceilings with door options create an accessible, spacious environment. The structure’s sturdy frame easily supports overhead equipment, such as suspended sound systems and signage. Our clear span design is spacious enough for plenty of exhibitors and buyers alike. These modular structures are available in a variety of dimensions for accommodating small or large shows and events. The white polyethylene fabric covers we use are highly reflective, creating a space much brighter and more open than any convention hall.  

The TFS membrane structure can be installed and removed quickly to meet tight setup and removal times. Visit our time lapse video to see 175,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space installed in 9 days for a prominent trade show in Las Vegas:

Engineered Fabric Structures for Temporary Convention and Trade Show Space

fabric building structure in Vegas used as a convention or trade show building

Featuring a lightweight engineered aluminum frame and specially designed PVC fabric, tension fabric buildings can be transported and installed at any destination, then quickly and efficiently disassembled after the event. They don’t require a building foundation so the structures can be installed on any surface, including asphalt, turf, and gravel. The advanced design tension fabric structure is highly stable thanks to use of steel frames and won’t be affected by winds or rain or snow loads, keeping your program on track no matter the weather outside. The structure can be climatized with HVAC systems for attendees’ comfort in hot weather or cold. Affordable and highly versatile, Allsite structures come in a variety of sizes, with options to accommodate your event’s needs. Enjoy your choice of doorways, including public entry doors and cargo doors for equipment and supplies, ventilation, lighting, and other options.

Careful planning will help make your event go off smoothly and successfully. With years of experience in the convention space, and a large available inventory, Allsite can take the worry out of finding the right space for your exhibit or show. Contact us to find out more or call 1-888-599-5112.

Author Beth Karikari

Beth holds an MBA, Master of Marketing and Bachelor of Business from Griffith University, Australia. Read more about Beth and the rest of our team at

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