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The following outline provides you with a basic list of details you need to track when planning for a show. (Feel free to add your own items.) Keep in mind that the suggested time frame (three months out, two months out, etc.) is just a suggestion. Your timetable may differ slightly depending on the complexity of the project and Show Management requirements. Use this as a guideline to develop your own ideal show planning time line.


12 Months Before Exhibit

  •        Determine the purpose for participating in the show.
  •        Select the space: Study floor plans, traffic patterns, services, audience makeup.
  •        Read your contract carefully: Understand the terms, show rules, payment schedule, and space assignment method (by product category, seniority, membership, etc.).
  •       Send in the space application and first payment.
  •       Prepare your budget.

Six Months Before Exhibit

  •        Determine your exhibit objectives.
  •        Select primary vendors (exhibit house, transportation company, installation/dismantle supplier).
  •        Decide if a new exhibit is needed. If so, begin the design process. (If using a portable, the design process may not require this much lead time.)
  •        Plan show advertising.
  •        Submit Block Housing Request

Four Months Before Exhibit

  •        Select the staff that will attend the show.
  •        Make airline and car reservations.
  •        Determine exhibit needs (if using existing properties): refurbishments, additions, changes.
  •        Select product to display.
  •        Plan inquiry processing procedures.
  •        Communicate with primary vendors (exhibit house, shipping, installation/dismantle) regarding services needed and dates
  •        Develop a floor plan for the exhibit.
  •        Finalize the new exhibit design.
  •        Execute show-related advertising.
  •        Make sure to meet the deadlines for free publicity in the exhibitor guide/preview.

Three Months Before Exhibit

  •        Carefully read and review the exhibitor manual.
  •        Select a portable exhibit supplier.
  •        Purchase promotional giveaway items
  •        Review the exhibit floor plan and note target dates and restrictions.
  •        Plan any in-booth presentations and demonstrations.
  •        Create a list of required services, noting deadlines for "early-bird" discounts.
  •        Distribute the show plan to staff.
  •        Reserve any additional meeting rooms (hospitality events, press conferences, etc.)
  •        Select catering menus (for hospitality events, press events, etc.)
  •        Submit authorization form if you are using an exhibitor-appointed contractor.
  •        Plan a pre-show meeting.


Two Months Before Exhibit

  •        Preview new custom exhibit.
  •        Finalize graphics art/copy.
  •        Order staff badges.
  •        Send information to other departments exhibiting in booth.
  •        Create and order lead forms. Finalize inquiry processing procedures.
  •        Prepare orders for: drayage, electrical, cleaning, floral, etc. Take advantage of any pre-pay discounts.
  •        Follow up on all promotions, making sure everything is ready to ship by target date.
  •        Prepare press kits.
  •        Check with staff on airline and hotel reservations and travel dates. Make any needed changes.
  •        Develop briefing packet for booth staff.
  •        Schedule training for booth staff at show.
  •        Send a reminder to upper management about briefing meetings (in office and at show); include agenda.

One Month Before Exhibit

  •        Follow up on shipping orders.
  •        Follow up on installation/dismantle schedule; get an estimate on costs.
  •        Call to reconfirm airline, hotel and car reservations. Make any needed changes.
  •        Follow up on target dates with all vendors.
  •        Confirm the availability of display products/literature.
  •        Preview any new portable displays.
  •        Send all needed materials by target shipping date to avoid express mail shipments.
  •        Distribute briefing packet, including training materials, to all booth staffers.
  •        Set up and hold pre-show briefing meeting in office.
  •        Set up in-booth conference room schedule for pre-arranged meetings at show.
  •        Send follow-up reminder to upper management about briefing meeting, include agenda.
  •        Determine a date and time for briefing staff at the exhibit. Review agenda, purpose of show, demonstrations, rehearsals, show specials, etc.
  •        Ensure that you have the following items before leaving for the show: important phone/cell numbers, traveler's checks, credit cards, copies of all orders and checks for services paid in advance, phone numbers and addresses of all vendors, engineering certificate for exhibit, shipping manifest, return shipping labels, and additional badge forms.

Upon Arrival At The Show

  •        Check on freight arrival.
  •        Check with the hotel about reservations for staff, as well as any meeting rooms and catering orders.
  •        Find the service area. Meet electrician and confirm date and time for electrical installation if needed.
  •        Supervise booth setup.
  •        Hold pre-show briefing and training for staff the day before the show.

During The Show

  •        Reserve next year's space.
  •        Conduct daily meetings with staff.
  •        Make arrangements for booth dismantle and shipping.
  •        Arrange for lead forms to be shipped back to office daily for processing.

After The Show

  •        Supervise booth dismantle.
  •        Follow up with leads.
  •        Debrief staff.
  •        Send thank-you notes.
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