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If I Were a Trade Show Manager, Here’s What I’d Do

Our Business Development Manager Lance Newton shares insights on what he would do if he was a Trade Show Manager.

There’s a lot that goes into successfully exhibiting at a trade show. Here, our Business Development Manager Lance Newton shares insights on what he would do if he was a Trade Show Manager.

“Always Have a Budget Range.”

I would always provide the exhibit production team with a budget range. Without one and simply asking for the best price can be a waste of time. Most reputable companies won’t put their creative team’s time and resources into a project without having a budget to work within.

There are run-of-the-mill exhibit houses out there that will do anything to earn business, but if you are looking for quality work, choosing the lowest bidder isn’t the best strategy.

“Do Your Research.”

When searching for an exhibit house to work with, I would take the time to do my homework. There is a lot that can be learned from a company’s customer reviews, blog posts, and social media accounts.

When I’m ready to start receiving quotes, I would look to see if they have a website gallery of past designs to know if they are able to build the kind of exhibit I’m looking for. I would also look at their other services to determine if I need to work with multiple vendors or if the company I choose can handle all of my needs under one roof.

“Choose Three Companies.”

After my initial research, I would narrow down my choices and request designs and proposals from three companies. No more, no less. If a company finds out that they’re competing against more than a couple of other exhibit houses, it’s likely that they won’t take the time to put together a thoughtful proposal.

“Keep an Eye on Customer Service.”

From the very first phone call or email, I would keep an eye on customer service. A company’s responsiveness and transparency are often a direct reflection of how they do business. There are so many details and moving parts when it comes to creating and/or servicing a booth that it’s imperative that a company is responsive. If my questions aren’t getting answered in a timely manner or if I’m always having to follow up for information, I would consider this a red flag.

“Ask For Transparency on Services.”

For services such as shipping, installation, and dismantle, I would negotiate a reasonable markup that my exhibit house charges to handle these. A lot can happen when shipping booths and doing labor, that doing this will keep better and open communication between both parties.

“Plan in Advance.”

If my schedule allowed, I would start planning 2-3 months before each show and for much larger shows at least 6 months out. It can be easy to forget how much is done behind the scenes and the reality is a lot of thought and manpower goes into creating a custom trade show exhibit. By giving myself and my exhibit house as much time as possible to prepare, the chances of missing any important details greatly decreases.

“Be Knowledgeable.”

I would make sure to have an understanding on how every step of a trade show works. Everything from picking the best booth space to the steps involved when building a booth on the show floor — there are so many moving parts (and people) involved that understanding the entire process will help my planning and minimize mistakes.

“Let the Pros Do What They Do Best.”

I would let my exhibit house do what they do best and try not to get in the way of every detail. Understanding that when I choose an exhibit builder, I’m essentially hiring someone to be an extension of my personal team so I need to trust their ability and that they are owning their part of the trade show exhibiting process.

Just like there are a lot of internal moving parts when I’m planning for a trade show, the same goes for the exhibit builder who is working with multiple clients.


Rockway Exhibits is a premier trade show exhibit builder that offers full-service exhibit solutions. Trust our team of experienced professionals to provide innovative and strategic trade show ideas that are developed with your unique goals and backed by proven results. For more information about our process, or to begin planning for your next event, contact us.

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