Award Winning Ottawa Event Planning

Mistakes Exhibitors Make at their Booth

Mistakes Exhibitors Make at their Booth

As an event planner it is easy for us to stand back at an event and watch exhibitors make costly mistakes at their booths. Exhibitors spend a lot of money to attend an event. It is not just the cost of the booth but also the cost of marketing material, samples and giveaways, the travel to get there, and more!

When they don’t make the sales they expected it can be frustrating and potentially damaging to the company. Unfortunately, as the event planner, we often get blamed for low sales. We hear about it in the survey results – not enough attendees, bad location of their booth, bad location of the venue, not enough marketing of the event.

But, in those same survey results we are hearing the complete opposite too from the exhibitors who were hugely successful. It is important for exhibitors to take a step back and assess what they could have done better to make sure they maximized this marketing opportunity.

Here are some examples of what we see exhibitors doing that deter foot traffic to their booth.

Head down, getting work done

At every trade show there is always one exhibitor that is too busy to be there. They have their laptop out on the table and they are busily typing away. I am not sure if they think it makes them look important or that their business is so busy that they can’t possibly take a minute. But, it actually does the complete opposite of whatever it is they think it is doing. It appears to the attendees that they clearly don’t want to make a sale, they are too busy for their business. And frankly, it’s bad business. If you are so busy that you can’t be fully present at your booth then why are you there?

Being desperate to make a sale

Nobody likes pushy sales people. There is nothing that will drive away business faster than a sales person at a booth pushing for a sale. I think the perception of what is supposed to happen at a trade show is skewed. You are not there to make a sale on the spot. You are there to exhibit, to show and educate people about what you do. With the hope that you made an impression and when they are ready to buy that they remember you. If you go into a trade show with the intention of making connections rather than sales you will be more successful long term.

But, in those same survey results we are hearing the complete opposite too, from the exhibitors who were hugely successful.

Making no effort on your booth set up

People are naturally attracted to the big fancy booths. The ones with the lights and all the colourful text. But the truth is, you don’t need to have an expensive trade show booth to make your investment worth while. You just need to make an effort. Don’t look like you forgot you were exhibiting today and just threw something together. If you are not going to take the time to create a booth that showcases the best of your company then you may be doing your business more harm then good. Personally, when I see that booth that looks thrown together I think 2 things.

  1. They are disorganized and left the planning for this trade show to the last minute
  2. The boss told them at the last second that they had to come today and they are not prepared and likely don’t want to be here


I have very mixed feelings about giveaways and activations at exhibitor booths. The purpose is to draw people to your booth. But if you don’t have a strategy in place to draw them in beyond whatever freebie you have, then you have spent a lot of money for nothing. And even worse, you create a crowd around your booth of people who have no interest in you other than your freebie. Deterring potential clients from getting close to you and having your undivided attention.

Julia O’Grady has big vision, fresh ideas and a proven track record in the events industry. She and her team work hard to exceed client expectations and push ITM Events to achieve greater heights. A driven entrepreneur, Julia also manages the business side of ITM Events including human resources, finances, marketing and writing grant and sales proposals. In taking a high level approach to event management, Julia is able to visualize a project from inception to successful execution. She attracts valuable sponsors by offering meaningful opportunities to engage with participants. Julia uses her keen analytical mind to create incredible events that maximize the available budget. When Julia isn’t planning unforgettable events, she loves travelling the world with her family, staying active, and enjoying fine food and martinis.
Share This