A trade show is a great way to showcase a company’s strong products or services to potential clients. These shows have customers and clients coming far and wide to experience multiple companies. Comparing companies with one another. These shows will provide a company with the platform to stand out and display all its strengths.

A trade show planning checklist will allow the planning team with the necessary information that will allow them to have a list of planning objectives to complete. The list will allow the planner to have the necessary tools and equipment organized to run a successful trade show booth.

Planning a trade show can be a difficult task, and if the organization needs a checklist, the planner must remember and determine on their own, what is important and necessary. A checklist will not only assist the planner but the entire team.

How To Organize a Trade Show Checklist

The first focus of a trade show checklist will be to determine the event goal of the trade show. The company must have clear and concise goals that they want to achieve through the checklist. This will allow the planning team with a structure and guidance to set up a show that will fulfill the goals set by the company leaders

Another prerequisite for a successful trade show checklist is the booth requirements and all data that will be needed throughout the event. The team must provide the information beforehand to ensure that the design and the rest of the booth reflect the correct information.

As a trade show planner, the individual will have to create a realistic budget. This will allow the team and the company to identify where the money will be spent. A realistic budgeting process will allow the planner to buy and create a booth that is of high quality. The funding will allow the planner to have enough money till the end of the trade show. Prevent the team from running out of finances in the middle of the trade show planning.

Read more to check our sample trade show checklist below.

Pre-Trade Show Planning Checklist

A pre-show checklist refers to all the tasks and objectives that must be done before the day of the show. This will allow the planner to attend to all the tasks to assure that the trade show is a success.

12 to 18 Months Before your Trade Show

One year before the trade show, companies must start by reviewing their options. There are multiple trade shows and options to choose from. Ideally, the show must be in line with the industry the company is in. The exhibit space rental for the trade show event must be determined before the planning can start.

In this period, the team must create a budget that will assist the planning team in their choices of equipment, stock, and other factor within the booth. With the budget, the company must lay out rules, goals, and objectives that will provide the team with clear guidelines as to what is expected from them.

The team must determine the locations of the trade show and their booth. This will allow them to make adjustments and arrangements around the location and size of the booth. Determining the locations will provide the team with crucial detail on traveling and setup costs.

4 to 6 Months Before Your Trade Show

Between four to six months the team must design the booth that they want to exhibit at the trade show. Creating the right components and style for the booth that will attract customers is key. If the company does not have an already existing booth, creating it from the ground up might take some extra time.

An effective marketing strategy must be created within this period. The marketing team will have to research to determine the demographic and target audience. This time will be used to develop specific advertisements to ensure that the target audience can be drawn to the trade show. 

If there is some free time within this period the team can identify and create marketing material such as business cards that will be used as free merchandise. Companies can hand out tote bags, shirts, or frisbees. These resources are goodies the audience can take home, which will add extra value to their experience at the show. The promotional items will be given away before, at, and sometimes after the show. 

1 to 3 Months Before Your Trade Show

This time will be when most of the physical labor and planning comes to life. The team must work extremely hard to bring all the ideas to life. The first focus should be the installation of the flooring. If the trade show floor needs specific flooring in the form of wooden floors or tiles, the time is now.

The booth coordinator will need to confirm the dates with the venue as well as what the requirements are for building and taking down the booth. Confirming setup dates will let the team know exactly when to lay the floors or set up the booth.

Another key task will be to meet with the entire sales staff for the booth. There must be specific information and cards handed to them to ensure that all the sales members have the correct and accurate information. This will allow them to study the information beforehand. Not only will this add to professionalism but all clients will have the same information provided to them.

This period will be used to launch the marketing campaign. Advertising the exact dates and times that the show will run to ensure that the clients will pop in at the trade show. Handout documents for the trade show must be created and available. This will allow the staff to provide the clients with material that they can take home to do further reading on the product or service.

A team-building experience will add value to the team. This will ensure that the entire team is on the same page, standing as a team and not as individuals. The planning team must ensure that all installations are in the form of Wi-Fi, electronics, and all other necessities. This will allow the team to fix bugs and problems before the day of the trade show.

During Trade Show Checklist

The day has arrived and after months of planning the team can finally use the information that they received. On the day of the trade show, sales members must arrive early to ensure that everything is ready and in place for the clients.

On the day of the trade show, all sales members must be friendly and interactive and share as much information with the customers as possible. Sales members must keep track of all the contact information that will be used after the trade show.

The trade show event is where the customers might meet the company for the first time, thus ensuring professional engagement is key. The team will have time to enjoy the trade show and communicate the company’s assistance to customer needs.

Check Out Trade Show Marketing Plan: Tips for Before, During, and After the Show:


Post-show refers to the tasks and objectives that must be completed after the show has finished. This will include duties such as clean-up and removal of the booth space. Another task is to follow up with all the informants that have provided the team with their information.

Measure The Show’s Success

After the show, the team can evaluate their success. The trade show must have achieved all the goals set at the beginning. If certain goals were missed by the team, they must evaluate why and how they can improve them in the future. The team must use the time to review goals that they have created beforehand. This will assist the team to improve their pre-show meetings and set a clear action plan with accurate goals. 

Cost Comparison

This process will allow the team to analyze whether they have spent the money allocated through the budget accordingly. The team will evaluate if they overspent or underspent on certain aspects of the trade show. This cost comparison plays a key role in determining a cost-effective method that will impact the success of future trade shows.

The team will proceed with the cost comparison to ensure that they change or adjust their budget in the future. This might allow the team to pick better vendors or more price-sensitive items that might push or decrease the budgetary costs. 

Prepare and Analyze For Your Next Trade Show

The company can send out a survey to the staff that worked at the trade show. The survey will provide them with information on the experience these members had. The sales members can raise points that they feel were unorganized, or they can share the positives that they have experienced.

The team can evaluate their marketing efforts and capitalization of cell phone usage on the day. The team will have to find creative trade ideas to ensure that their booth space stands out among the rest. 

The leadership must receive information from these members to ensure that their next show is better organized, set up, and run than their past events. Analyzing the data will allow the team to improve all future events. The leadership of the company will have time to evaluate the data and plan a conference to ensure that the data is used in the best way possible.

Take A Look At Our Sample Trade Show Checklist:


How Do You Plan A Trade Show Budget?

To start with the company and team must set clear goals. This will assist them in determining what purchases and choices to make in the future. Set a trade show list to ensure that all items needed for the trade show will be taken care of.

How Do You Measure Success at a Trade Show?

Measuring success can be done in two methods. Either by determining which goals and objectives have been achieved. These goals must have been set before the show to provide the team with guidelines. Or another form of success is evaluating the return on investment. Analyzing the number of customers and contact detail that was received throughout the show. A key part of the trade show planning checklist is a trade show packing list.

Final Considerations

A trade show booth can add value to a company. The key however is to determine which trade show to attend. Companies can increase their visualization, brand awareness, and customer service by attending and displaying a professional trade show booth at these events.

Trade show checklists are the best method of ensuring a successful trade show. The checklist will ensure that the planning team will have the necessary tasks, objectives, and planning structure. The checklist will allow the team to observe the tasks that must be done, preventing any individual to forget about them. The best way to a successful trade show event is through a trade show checklist.

Sabine Ghali

Kelly Murphy


Certified Meeting planner with 20+ years of event management experience, founder of ConferenceSource, expert in meeting facility sourcing & contracting in North America, Europe, South America and Asia. Kelly will manage your budget as if they were her own, negotiating the best possible rate and hotel contract to benefit and protect every client and exceed all expectations for all planning aspects for sales meetings, educational meetings, product launches, incentive trips down to a small board of directors meeting. We make meetings easy understanding your meeting objectives and delivering meeting matched components.