In Marketing, Trade Shows

neon sign that says trade showLately here at Dana, we’ve had trade shows on the brain. Returning to Las Vegas very soon is our client IMEX America, the country’s biggest global incentive travel, meetings and events industry trade show. We’ve been quite busy cranking out the final pieces of their 2019 trade show marketing campaign. And, it seems like only yesterday that we were in Germany, exploring the ultimate trade show engagement at IMEX in Frankfurt.

For that reason, you’ll see a series of trade show blog posts from us in the coming weeks—each intended to help you maximize your experience at IMEX America, or anywhere else you’re exhibiting, and get great returns on that investment.

First up: a primer/refresher on trade show etiquette, for your shot at winning the (fictional) Good Boothmanship Award.

All of your preparation means nothing…

…If you haven’t perfected your propriety. Yup. Not even the world’s greatest booth design, branded promotional materials, in-booth entertainment and hospitality, event sponsorship or pre-show marketing and research can save you.

But you don’t have to hang on Miss Manners’ every word to succeed at trade show etiquette. Increase your leads and book more business simply by practicing these tips for trade show booth behavior:

  • Staff your booth smartly. Your etiquette efforts begin here. Trade shows provide top value in face-to-face connections. Populate your booth with confident, well-informed team members who you’re proud to have representing your brand—on and off the show floor. They should understand and be able to communicate what you have to offer. Plus, try to have at least one staffer present in the booth at all times.
  • Dress to impress. Become familiar with what’s considered acceptable and professional for your industry, as well as the specific trade show and any ancillary events in which you’re taking part. While matchy-matchy among team members can be eye-catching, we’ve seen polished with individual flair work amazingly too. Pro tip: Check out pics from the prior show to see what everyone’s wearing.
  • Be enthusiastic, polite and inviting. Stand up straight. Get in front of your booth. Make eye contact. Smile. Greet everyone warmly. Welcome them to interact. Presenting to or chatting with an attendee? Feel free to grab a seat together. Otherwise, don’t waste a single moment—or opportunity—by sitting down, staring at your phone or computer screen or watching the crowd pass you by.
  • Engage in engaged, engaging conversation. Whatever you do, don’t ignore anyone. Open yourself and your booth up to relaxed dialogue and questions, and genuine interaction. Steer clear of the clichéd “used car salesperson” approach and rudely forcing your brand on people. And listen, rather than steadily babbling on, so you can hear and meet prospects’ needs. End interactions appropriately, and with a sincere “thanks for coming to see us.”
  • Keep your booth clean and orderly. Avoid eating in the booth. Those to-go containers are just so stinky and unsightly. (And must we say, “Don’t talk with your mouth full?”) Trash goes right in the bin. Hide your personal items, luggage and supplies. Tidy up your marketing materials and freebies regularly, ensuring they’re displayed in full view and accessible to attendees.
  • Be nice to everybody, even each other. Trade show booth etiquette extends beyond attendees—to your own hardworking team, to your neighbors, colleagues and competitors, to anyone who’s pitched in with your efforts and to the trade show staff itself. Express courtesy and your appreciation.

Show us what you got!

Connect with us at IMEX America in Las Vegas, and wow us with your trade show etiquette expertise. The Dana team will be there on September 9 for Smart Monday, a full day of free education and networking, and staying through the trade show, September 10-12.

Want some personalized trade show pointers in the meantime? Email Lynn Kaniper at—or call 609.466.9187, ext. 117.

And be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see what we’re up to at IMEX America.


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