Trade Show Planning and Support: Tips for a Successful Event

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After two years of quarantine, where travel restrictions, budget cuts and virtual events became the norm, trade shows are BACK. Over the past five months alone, HexaGroup has aided clients with trade show planning and support for six major shows, both in the United States and internationally. That’s a lot of booth buying and swag shipping — and that’s before you consider all of the design, content creation and marketing technology work that occurs before, during and after the event.

Here are the shows we helped our clients with:

  • OTC 2022 - Houston Texas
    Client: Nauticus Robotics

  • API 2022 - San Antonio, Texas
    Client: Quest Integrity

  • ONS 2022 - Stavanger, Norway
    Client: Nauticus Robotics

  • TPS 2022 - Houston, Texas
    Client: CCC

  • IPC 2022 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Client: Quest Integrity

  • SPICONX 2022 - Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
    Client: Quest Integrity

This recent run of event support got us thinking — what sort of wisdom can we impart about trade show planning for 2022 and beyond? How can we guide our clients and readers toward the success they wish to achieve?

We come to this blog post bearing tips on how you can make your trade show participation even better. If you follow them — no matter if your goal is lead generation or simply brand awareness — you’re certain to attain more optimal results.

Start Trade Show Planning Early

Regardless of whether your next event is in two months, six months or one year, the best time to start trade show planning is right now. The earlier you begin, the more likely you are to put together a cohesive, well-thought-out presence. This is especially true if the pandemic left you understaffed on the marketing side (something marketing outsourcing can fix). With fewer people to tackle trade show-related tasks, every second becomes even more valuable.

We recommend creating a list of all the elements you’ll need to deliver the type of trade show experience you desire, including the various booth pieces required, any collateral you’d like to have on hand, which sponsorship level you’d like (if any), who should attend, how many exhibitor passes you’ll need, and so forth. Then get to work on filling in the blanks — not a week before the event, but as soon as possible.

Also vital to trade show planning — so much so that it gets its own section — is figuring out what you’d like to say (or show) at the event.

Come With a Mission

If you’ve taken a stroll around a trade show recently, you’ve likely encountered numerous companies who are simply going through the motions. They come with the exact same booth, the exact same materials and the exact same story every year. They’re spending tens of thousands of dollars to be there, but beyond “networking,” can’t offer up a compelling reason why.


In our experience, we’ve found that it’s beneficial to attach your trade show participation to a campaign launch or messaging push. At OTC 2022, for example, the entire Nauticus Robotics experience revolved around “True Supervised Autonomy,” its unique take on robotics autonomy. At TPS 2022, CCC promoted its “Universe of Control,” highlighting its ecosystem of turbomachinery control solutions. The result: both companies had a story that was clear and visible to others at the event.

Let Your Booth Do Some Talking

A trade show booth is, for most exhibitors, an enormous name tag. It tells passers-by who they are. That’s all it does. So many companies are content to place a logo and a tagline on their booth without going the extra mile to tell everyone what they do and what makes them different. Large booth walls contain a lot of space that typically goes unused. Why not make the most of it?

The solution is to hire a marketing agency (we can think of a good one) to create a booth design that goes beyond this simple approach to weave a tale about your capabilities, what sets you apart and why you matter. This is something we accomplished with Quest Integrity’s booth at IPC 2022, which highlighted the company’s inspection solutions as well as its leadership in establishing Asset Integrity 4.0.


Promote Your Presence Digitally

What happens at the trade show shouldn’t stay at the trade show. There’s a level of credibility that comes from participating in such an event, and that’s something you can leverage well beyond the walls of the expo hall. Why settle for reaching thousands in person when you can reach millions digitally?

For our clients, part of the trade show planning and support process includes the development of an event-specific landing page (example: Nauticus Robotics at OTC 2022). We supplement this with an email blast out to the company’s contacts, along with social media marketing that promotes the company’s focus for the show. This helps our clients gain some much deserved attention for their trade show participation while also enabling them to generate leads globally using the event as a springboard.

Bring Some Entertainment

Finally, if there’s one trick we’ve learned with trade show planning, it’s this: companies with some form of entertainment at their booth enjoy more engagement from attendees. This may not come as a surprise, especially if you’ve walked the halls at an event and perused all the booths yourself. You know which ones look fun and which ones don’t and you’re likely attracted to the fun ones. It is human nature.

Booth entertainment is a tactic we’ve used to great effect with numerous clients. Calling back to Nauticus Robotics at OTC, the company’s booth featured a towering video display. This was used on the third day of the event to broadcast a Champions League semi-final match (which many attendees were very interested in watching). For Quest Integrity at IPC, we created “Pipeline Trivia” — a game booth visitors could play — both to increase engagement and capture new leads.

Trade Show Planning is Just the Beginning

The tips we’ve covered today around trade show planning are more broad in nature. They don’t get into the weeds of how we strategize around the content for an event, or what our thought process looks like when creating a booth design. We’ll cover those topics in future posts.

For now, you should be equipped to lay out a plan for your next trade show that’ll lead to greater success. Should you need help planning — or require assistance with content, design, or any other piece of the trade show puzzle — know that HexaGroup is ready and able to help. Contact us today.

Topics: Trade Shows