How to Create Your Pre-Trade Show Checklist

Categories: Trade Show Checklists, Trade Show Tips

Whether you are a veteran to the trade show arena or someone looking to get into the game, being organized is the key to success. One aspect of this organizational strategy is creating trade show checklists, which can act as the master document to refer to when getting all of your ducks in a row. Trade show checklists will aid in preventing you from leaving out important actions to take for the upcoming trade show, such as bringing specific items to the show itself, ordering from vendors, or discussing logistics with the event location at a distinct time.

Not only will this trade show checklist help in organizing the event, but having a well-organized checklist is also vital. Below are a few categories we recommend to ensure that the following factors are accounted for when organizing your next trade show:

Checklist of Action Items to do Before Leaving for the Trade Show

Within the maelstrom of planning for a trade show, there a few vital actions you can take to attempt and calm that storm. Making sure you have all of your employees and/or team members contact information, including phone numbers and emails just to be thorough, documented and easily accessible can save you the hassle of scrambling to contact one of them later on when all of the madness of the trade show itself is occurring. Having this list organized by names, role, or designated teams can help identify who you need to talk to quicker and without a hassle.

When it comes to all of the items you will need for the actual trade show, these can be divided into two distinct categories: show-related and merchandise-related. Show related refers to all of the products or services that directly impact your booth. This list can include special signage you may want, like hanging signs or backlit towers, unique display items, or ordering electricity for your booth. The last of these is incredibly important if you do have marketing materials such as the aforementioned backlit tower which needs electricity, but it is also good to note that ordering electricity ahead of time can potentially save you money if you are able to do that task well in advance. The other category, merchandise-related items, refers to some of the ingredients that you will be bringing to spice up your booth yourself. This category includes tools you may need come trade show day, merchandise to sell and/or display, catalogs to put up for consumers to take, and anything else you may need.

Given how encompassing both of those categories are, it is key to have details checklists for both of these categories. These checklists should include important dates such as when to order items, when items will be delivered, and perhaps even estimated turnaround times in case there is an abnormality in production. In addition, the trade show checklists should include exact amounts of each item ordered as well as cost, so you can not only track what you will need for the trade show, but also have budgetary numbers in front of you in case you need to contact a manufacturer at the last minute. In addition, while cloud-based software such as Google Drive or Dropbox is excellent to ensure that these documents do not get lost, an argument can be made for the tried-and-true hard copy. Printing out copies of the checklists for team leads as well as your own personal files can be one more step in ensuring that your time organizing and preparing does not go down the drain in a freak blackout or other digital disaster.

Trade Show Travel Checklist

If traveling to the trade show in question, there are a plethora of details to make sure you have lined up especially if the location you are traveling to is unfamiliar territory. Having an app like Uber or Lyft installed on your mobile device ahead of time is one less thing to worry about when you arrive at said location. Being able to tap for a pick-up without trying to punch in all of your credit card information on the side of the road is a big plus. If you are traveling longer distances and will be staying at local accommodations, having the pertinent information such as your hotel confirmation number, boarding pass for an airline, or car rental reservation number not just located on your phone but also printed out and on your person can help out in a pinch. Directions to the hotel in question as well as the convention center where the trade show will be should also be at the ready. All of the above should be marked down as specific things to remember to bring ahead of time in order to decrease stress and optimize your travelling experience overall.

Setup Checklist for when you arrive at your Booth Space

The real fun starts when you step foot at the trade show event location itself. Managing everyone and everything can be a daunting task to guarantee all goes smoothly, but various checklists can help alleviate some of the stress by creating a nice even flow at which to execute your actions. Having a checklist for each aspect of booth setup as well as delegating tasks accordingly can make the entire setup experience quite an emotionless one. Key tasks such as setting up the trade show display, utilizing specific tools for specific jobs, setting up your various signage or other displays such as catalog holders and the like, as well as rigging up more complex signage like rotating hanging signs can all be dissected into chunks of time and marked off on your checklist when completed. By doing this, you are not only making sure all of your tasks get done, but also allocating sufficient time for all of the above as well. Time management is just as important as making sure the tasks themselves get done.


While trade shows can indeed be stressful, going into battle armed to the teeth with checklists and other organizational tools can turn what seems like a fight into a truly fun and rewarding event. Organization and preparedness are the best weapons in your arsenal, hands down. Whether it’s a local show or a national one, small trade show or larger one, having lists that outline what needs to get done for a successful show can help ensure that success will not escape you.

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