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Are You A Battle-Tested Trade Show Veteran?

Are you a battle-tested tradeshow veteran?There are aspects of the trade show floor that can make it seem like a battlefield: competitors face off across battle lines (aisles), weapons (new products) are launched to capture market share, and soldiers (booth staffers) battle to win clients from one another.

So how battle-tested are you?  Take this quiz and count up the points to see just how many skirmishes you’ve faced on the trade show floor – and how you handled yourself amidst the fog of war.

  • Number of years of trade show experience:  +1 point per year, up to 10 points
  • If any of those years you did more than 10 shows a year: +1 for each year, up to 10 points
  • Exhibited at an international show across the ocean:  +5
  • At a show your booth did not show up in time: +3
  • You also found a substitute display: +2
  • You also did not shout at anyone the whole time:  +2
  • You’ve had booth staffers show up late: +1
  • You’ve had booth staffers show up hung over: +1
  • You’ve had booth staffers not show up at all: +1
  • You’ve led a pre-show meeting with booth staffers who were senior to your title: +2
  • You had to booth staff with the CEO:  +4
  • The CEO complimented you on a job well done:  +6
  • You identified a competitor pretending to be a customer in your booth: +3
  • You got good competitive intelligence out of the competitor yourself:  +5
  • You’ve had an angry client visit your booth:  +2
  • You turned them around and made them happy again: +5
  • Your promotional products vendor made a production or shipping mistake so you had no giveaways at a show:  +2
  • You found an equivalent substitute and got them to the show on time: +4
  • You’ve bought new banner stands: +1
  • You’ve managed the design and build of a new 10 foot display: +2
  • You’ve managed the design and build of a new 20 foot display: +4
  • You’ve managed the design and build of a new small island exhibit: +6
  • You’ve managed the design and build of a new 20 x 30 island booth or larger: +10
  • You’ve had a show cancel after you paid for space: +2
  • You’ve had a show cancel after you paid for space, and you got your money back: +5
  • You’ve run out of lead cards at a show: +2
  • Your graphics arrived at show with a typo:  +1
  • You fixed the typo without anyone noticing: +3
  • You’ve been at a trade show when a natural disaster struck locally: +7
  • You have successfully defended your trade show budget by measuring and reporting profitable trade show results: +8
  • You convinced senior management to exhibit at new trade shows that better matched your target audience and objectives: +5

As you can see, you score even more points when, in the face of trade show troubles, you overcome them with adaptability, ingenuity, and an eye on results.  Because trade shows can be unpredictable, you need to be able to handle the inevitable problems that come up.

Score Yourself!

If you scored 0 to 10 points: Rookie! You’re so new to trade shows that the laborers must have just ripped the shrink wrap off of you.  No worries, you’ve got the right idea learning as you go.

If you scored 10 to 35 points: You’re no longer wet behind the ears.  You’ve seen some action and have a few scars to prove it.

If you scored 35 to 60 points: You know your way around the show hall, and have plenty of notches in your display shipping case handle.

If you scored 60 points or aboveWe salute you, O Battle-Scarred Trade Show Veteran! You have earned your stripes and have many stories to tell.  How about you share one of your war stories in the comments box below?  And if you’re brave enough, tell us your score, too!

What's Working In Exhibiting White PaperAfter thinking about everything that goes wrong at a trade show, read about a few things that can go right in the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper.  Request your free, 32-page copy by clicking here.

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch was Skyline Exhibits' Director of Customer Engagement, for over 25 years. He is now retired and spends his time freelancing, traveling, and enjoying time with his family.

4 responses to “Are You A Battle-Tested Trade Show Veteran?

  1. What’s your score? I just counted up mine, and it’s 65. Of course, I wrote the test so it was mostly my war stories built into the quiz. What were your trade show battles you deserve credit for?

  2. I scored 68. Does that make me battle-weary?? Too many stories to share, but here’s one of them. At a show in Orlando many years ago, our large island booth was one of those allowed to set up a day earlier than most of the displays at the show. Our show-site delivery was running late, so I got on the phone in search of our driver, who informed me that he was settling down for the night at a hotel room in Jacksonville rather than continuing on to Orlando. He explained that he had phoned the GSC, who informed him that the following day was exhibitor set-up day, so he was plannning to get some sleep rather than continuing on to Orlando. I gently reminded him that he was working for us, not for the GSC, who had given him incorrect information. In order to keep our install on schedule, I needed that booth on the date specified on his work order. So he reluctantly agreed to get back in his truck and come on down to Orlando. The re-scheduled delivery would be pushing into the evening, and the GSC was threatening to not unload us if the truck arrived after 5pm. With a bit of back-and-forth negotiation, the GSC (responsible in the first place for mis-informing our driver) grudgingly agreed that they would unload us on straight-time rate if our driver arrived by 6pm. Which he did, just in the nick of time. Problem solved. Install proceeded on schedule, and our relationship with the trucking company continued.

    1. Janice, I hope you’re not weary, that your experiences have only made you a smarter exhibitor.

      I like how you solve your problem — with persistence, preparation, communication, and good negotiating.

      1. No worries! Not really weary. After 11 years, I still enjoy what I do. Thanks for another enjoyable post, Mike.

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