A successful trade show is the result of a wide variety of factors such as choosing the right company to handle your exhibit, knowing your target audience and delivering a strong presentation (visual or otherwise). In contrast to these “Dos”, there are some “Don’ts” that need to be kept in mind to ensure that the trade show generates positive business results and stays within budget.

Consider the following common mistakes made by tradeshow exhibitors:


The exhibitor’s manual is a helpful document that’s given out to inform you about rules and details for the trade show. It’s an important brochure that can help the exhibitor plan their display for optimal results.

Think of it as a set of guidelines covering everything from space restrictions and lighting setup, to the use and potential limitations of technology at the venue. Some exhibitors may ignore the manual over a misplaced confidence that they know the details of the event (even if it’s the same venue as last year), but this overlooks the fact that every exhibition has minor changes that can impose certain restrictions or limitations.


This is one of the most common mistakes that an exhibitor can experience, even before the exhibition has begun. The exhibit and the display space need to go hand in hand for a suitable presentation of your booth. It isn’t necessary for your space and the size of your exhibit to match since it also needs some breathing room around it. It needs to have an equal balance between the exhibit and the number of visitors you anticipate at a given time, to avoid the image of suffocation or overcrowding.

If the display is large enough, then the space around it should be designed in a way that feels welcoming and comfortable for guests. Select the right booth size, have space to meet the audiences’ needs and ensure you’ve got the right budget to pull everything off successfully. Consider too that a larger display is better suited to attracting visitors from across the room, but bigger doesn’t automatically mean better.


Planning is an important aspect of getting your display the attention it needs. Giving it enough time and thought is important to make sure that your exhibit comes together smoothly.

As an added benefit, planning early will give you time to shop around for the best display company to handle your exhibit, and it helps you avoid costly fees for expedited delivery if something goes wrong. A hastily prepared exhibit can also present a poor image to the audience. Plan ahead so you have time to devise strategies to augment your exhibit and set well-defined goals for your display.


Sticking to the topic of goal-setting, ensure your budget can realistically help you achieve the kind of return you’re looking for. When shopping for a company to help with your exhibit, look beyond the kind of products they sell (or at what price). The best companies also excel at bringing your creative vision to life with professional services. Their familiarity with tradeshow dynamics is an advantage for brands who can benefit from inside tips, such as what design elements stand to make the biggest impact, or even how to attract attention from across the room.

Sure, cost is something to consider. But never forget the old adage: you get what you pay for.

Trade show display mistakes do happen. It can be an issue of time, inexperience, hubris or an emphasis on price over quality. Considering the above points can save you a lot of stress, time and money—both before and during a trade show. Starting right from the exhibitor’s manual, focus on what size you need, how best to present your exhibit and other important planning details. By avoiding a few pitfalls, your next trade show could be a lot more profitable and a lot less stressful.