How To Prepare for a Successful Outdoor Trade Show

Outdoor trade shows are a common event during the warm summer months, and the right shows can provide a great way to gain valuable exposure for your business, generate sales, and position your brand with a specific target audience.

While your goals of being part of an outdoor trade show may be the same as they would be for an indoor event, the way you go about preparing for it will be a bit different. Following are tips for a successful outdoor trade show.

Trade Show Selection

Choosing the most opportunistic outdoor trade shows can make the difference between ho-hum results and outstanding results from exhibiting. Begin your trade show marketing efforts by identifying the best show or shows to participate in.

Establish criteria for show participation, according to target audience match, location, time of year, show size (number of attendees), and budget. Next, research specific shows to consider by:

  • Asking current customers what shows they attended in the past. This will help you gain insight into which events are most important to prospective buyers.  
  • Searching online trade show databases that list upcoming events and their locations. 
  • Reaching out to trade organizations and inquiring about future shows related to your business.
  • Contacting area chambers of commerce and visitor centers to learn about exhibiting events that match your needs and enables you to reach prospective buyers.

As you peruse your event options, use your selection criteria to pick the show or shows that appear to be most opportunistic in reaching your target audience and achieving sales. 

Reserve Exhibit Space that Maximizes Exposure to Show Traffic

Outdoor trade shows sometimes have a larger footprint than indoor events. The level of exposure and visitor traffic can vary quite a bit depending on where your stand is situated.

Before you commit to a given show, request an exhibitor layout or show map from the event coordinator or sponsor to give you an idea of which location to reserve, based on potential for foot traffic. This will be helpful even if you've attended the show in the past.  Also, watching a video from the previous year's show may help shed light on hotspot locations for attracting visitors to your stand.

Get the Details

As noted above, reach out to the trade show coodinator before you decide to participate. He or she will provide you with helpful information on expected attendance and demographics of show visitors. In addition, the coordinator should provide you with an exhibitor packet to review that includes:

  • Show dates and times
  • Exhibiting guidelines and special rules
  • Available locations for your stand, along with pricing to reserve the space
  • What booth components you need to provide, along with what will be provided for you as an exhibitor 
  • Details on staging areas, including when to setup and tear down your booth.
  • Paperwork for you to complete that confirms your participation and booth location.

Plan for Rain and Wind, Plus Sunny Days

You should get ready for rain and wind even if the weather forecast shows otherwise. As you can imagine, the unpredictability of Mother Nature can potentially wreak havoc on an outdoor trade show.

Therefore, always have moisture-proof covers for your products, as well as tarps or plastic sheeting on hand to shield your exhibit from rain and wind. Consider using waterproof storage boxes to store your products before, during and after the show.

If you have computers or other electronics in your booth area, use smaller plastic sheets to keep them covered. While you’re at it, don’t forget to pack personal umbrellas for you and your team.

Rain and wind are not the only elements of Mother Nature that can hinder your trade show success. You’ll also need to get ready for the possibility of a nice day where the sun will be shining down as brightly as it can over your exhibit. Have plenty of water and sunscreen available for your staff.

Have Promotional Materials and Items Ready to Go

A lot of people who attend trade shows will forget about the specific exhibits that they visited. That's why it is important to have attractive take-home materials, including helpful promotional brochures and items that they can review after the show is over.

Well-designed brochures, business cards, and flyers will remind attendees of your exhibit and educate them about your offerings. Always include your contact information in all your materials.. Have your brochures displayed in easy-to-access holders or racks. You also may want to consider having branded giveaways that are handed out selectively by your booth team to high opportunity prospects. 

Prepare Your Booth Team

It is essential to train and prepare your booth team to ensure success. Write and practice a brief "elevator speech" for everyone to use that efficiently explains your product and its benefits to booth visitors. Also practice answers to frequently asked questions.  

Create a booth schedule for your team that includes 2-3 hour shifts and breaks during the day, Never leave the booth unattended. Have members of your staff take lunch at different times and always eat food away from the booth and out of sight.

Have your team wear crisp, branded clothing in the booth, along with comfortable shoes. 

A Word About Your Booth

If participating in an outdoor trade show is a trial or a one-off event, it might be worth renting a booth that comes complete with canopies or a structure to protect you and your staff. However if you intend to participate in outdoor trade shows regularly, consider investing in a professionally produced, branded trade show booth. It may be more cost effective in the long run and provide a more polished, memorable look for your brand.


Some of the most successful trade shows happen in the outdoors. Yet, success requires selecting the right show, planning the details, and preparing your team properly.

Related Info - Outdoor Trade Show

Trade Show Finder Databases 
Trade Show Planning: An Overview 
Staffing Overview

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