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A Guide to Good Tradeshow Etiquette

By Alisa

Peters, CMP

Chicago Indoor Racing

Think outside the norm… Explore, and broaden

the horizons of your next meeting or event.

Make a commitment to visit a new supplier!

Tradeshows are designed for exploration. Stick with what

you have always done and get the same results you have

always gotten. Consider visiting one new potential supplier

for every two tried and true. Many times a delightful gem of

an idea or resource can be hidden in the booth you least suspect.

If something effectively drew you to the booth, let the

supplier know… they can pass on the kudos to their company

to show a good return on investment..

Sign your contracts on the Tradeshow Floor

Especially when dealing with smaller suppliers.

With so much money tied up exhibiting, suppliers, particularly

smaller ones, are eternally grateful for signed contracts or

RFP’s that are submitted on the tradeshow floor. Many smaller

venues look at their exhibiting commitment as one of their biggest

single marketing expenses of the year. Take advantage of

your time away from the office and make an appointment to

see your favorite supplier on the floor to build on, maintain or

grow existing conversations.


Make your spaces inviting and unique.

Tourism Toronto did an amazing job at the WEC in Montreal of

creating a serene and inviting oasis in the middle of the tradeshow

madness that was exceptionally well done. The key to

their success was the design of a space that encouraged attendees

to come in and stay a while, with visually intimate spaces

that kept guests from being otherwise distracted by other

tradeshow activty. Spaces were designed to encourage conversation

and relaxation. Consider a nontraditional investment!

As this year’s PEC will feature the first “pipe-and-drape-free”

spaces, I am sure there will be an opportunity to test a scaled

down version of Toronto’s success this year in Houston!

Collecting giveaways from exhibiting Suppliers

that they cannot or will not ever purchase from.

It’s just bad manners. Exhibiting suppliers spend tens of

thousands of dollars to exhibit. If you have no intention of ever

using a supplier it is unethical and bad manners to take their

giveaways unless you are offered one as you pass by (something

that happens largely when someone doesn’t want to lug

their stuff home). If you are enticed to go to a booth that you

wouldn’t normally consider but it grabs your attention and is a

possibility… go for it! It is why suppliers go to the show and do

what they do!


Don’t discount or overlook other suppliers.

A gentle reminder to my favorite suppliers… while it is bad

manners for non-exhibiting supplier to walk around the tradeshow

floor collecting goodies… it is shortsighted to assume

that all non-exhibiting suppliers on the tradeshow floor are

there for freebies… many are there with planner friends who

have requested their company (I am in this position frequently).

Look at every face on the floor as an opportunity and you

just may find that new relationships are formed in a way you

least suspected they would!

Not attending

If you get a chance to go to annual conferences, make sure

that whatever your categorization, that you make time to visit

the tradeshow floor. It is the lifeblood of our business. The

WEC and PEC have hosted lunches on the floor. At a bare

minimum, just walk around and observe. The meetings &

convention industry is a 120 billion dollar industry and the

hum of the floor can be magnificent. Suppliers can find their

own suppliers on the floor (I love PC Nametag and have found

great merchandise companies and technology partners on

my trips…. In Montreal I found a provider who has boxed an

organic line of snacks that we are about to pick up for our


16 news & views | january-february 2008

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