Today’s post is from Randy Clark of TKO Graphix

I received a call from my friend Loraine Ball. This time it wasn’t about email marketing, going for a hike or Allison Carter. Lorraine had guest posted on our blog and wanted to submit a follow up post; this made me very happy. I suggested I reciprocate and Lorraine offered the topic—three or four items important to working a trade show that people may not consider. If you know me, three or four is tough…so I compromised by offering three categories.

I’ve worked thousands of trade shows and made hundreds of mistakes. I didn’t have to go far to come up with ideas for this post, but I also asked our staff at TKO Graphix for their suggestions. I asked what they’d learn to bring to trade shows, what they’d found to be indispensable—things you wouldn’t see on most trade show preparation checklists. I’ve covered 10 Ways to Improve Your Trade Show Results and similar trade show topics, but I hadn’t considered this topic. Then it hit me just how important this was. The success of any trade show depends on the positive outlook of the people working the booth and if they’re not happy because their new shoes are killing their feet, and it’s the only pair they have—the show will suffer.

Don’t Leave Home Without These

Personal Items

Let’s begin with shoes, comfortable shoes, not new unbroken but-they-look-good shoes, and more than one pair. If the show is a several day event, rotate shoes—let them air out. You’ll be more comfortable. Next, don’t forget breath mints, your prospects don’t need to know you had the convention center pepperoni pizza for lunch. Also, bring a small cooler for water and snacks such as fresh fruit. Yes, water is probably available—somewhere, but make it easy to hydrate; you’ll thank me for it. Last but not least, load up on batteries, one for every device and bring a spare charger.

Show Related Information

Start with good directions. I know, you have GPS, but remember that time you couldn’t get a signal? Have directions to the event and to your booth at your disposal. Keep a list of vendors, note those you’d like to meet and Google your booth neighbors. Nothing beats an introduction to your trade show neighbor like knowing who they are and what they do.


Duct tape. It’s the universal fixer for exposed electric cords running across your carpet, falling display braces and signs that lean to the right. Pack a small tool kit with your display—pliers, screwdrivers and a hammer. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked the booth across from me, “You wouldn’t happen to have a Phillips’ screwdriver, would you?” Office supplies: stapler and staples, paper clips, pens and legal pads. Don’t forget cleaning supplies such as a small whisk broom, glass cleaner and rags. Have you ever had anyone get sick in your booth? I have—enough said?

If you want to improve your trade show experience, avoid problems and be prepared for emergencies. Take the time to add personal items, show information and tools to your trade show checklist. You’ll be happier and your show will not suffer from it. What items do you find indispensable when working a trade show?

About Randy

Randy-Clark-IMG_3711_twitter_Randy is the Director of Communications for TKO Graphix and spends his days blogging for TKO Graphix Brandwire, writing copy for collateral materials, web, newsletters, and PR. He is a  social media advocate and administers nine TKO accounts. He also works with sales, management, and production teams on leadership.

And in the summer you’ll find him in his backyard with flowers and beer–he is an avid flower gardener and beer geek. On the weekends he performs with Under the Radar, a classic Rock & Roll band.


Want a few more tips on making our next trade show a success?  Download our free Trade Show Planning Guide