How to Solve Common Problems at Tradeshows


If you manage your company’s trade shows or events you are bound to eventually run into a problem at show site. This could be something very simple and easily fixed to a full blown emergency.

Nobody intends to increase their workload and stress by not planning ahead, but in trade shows there are a number of variables that come into play that are often not seen or experienced until a problem arises. This blog is to help put your mind at ease and give ideas to work around a problem you may experience.

Here is how to solve problems that may come up while exhibiting.

1. Freight – The old “my freight is not here” problem. This is one of the most common problems most exhibitors experience. When shipping anything to trade show floor be sure to have the following information at your fingertips, phone, iPad or laptop:

  • Know your trade show carrier – You would be surprised how many people do not know what carrier their company shipped their trade show exhibit, products and giveaways with. Have their phone number, email, tracking numbers and a direct number to your company’s rep for each shipping company they use.

  • Know what you are to receive – Again, you would not believe how many trade show managers do not get a detailed list of items, quantity of boxes and pallets they are to receive. When using an exhibit company – have them provide you with an outbound inventory (detailed), tracking numbers, piece count and label each pallet and/or crate with number such as 1 of 5, 2 of 5, etc…. You get the idea.

  • Know where the freight desk is and have a contact from show management phone number and/or email.

2. Damaged Surfaces – Trade show components such as walls, counters, furniture, etc.. do get nicks and dings. The best work around is to get simple Sharpie markers in all different colors (as close to your color scheme as possible) and use them for touch up. Simply, color in the damaged area with the marker and wipe off with a simple rag. This will help blend in the damaged area and your customers will never know the difference. If you can find the broken piece of laminate you can glue it back on. Always carry a small bottle of wood glue, contact cement and a lot of markers!

3. Damaged Fabric – This is a tricky one – the best trick we use is to re-position the fabric piece (if possible) to the minor side of the booth if the damage is on a hanging sign. This way fewer attendees see it. The other trick is that we carry small needle and thread (pull these from your hotel room bathroom) and keep them with you. If you have some damage you can usually fix it good enough to help make it through the show. This does not work well on large hanging sign tears, but you get the idea – small repairs for this solution! Hanging Sign stains – this is a common problem and white is one of the most difficult colors to clean. We use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser cleaner sponge (dry) and this usually will get out the dirt. Be sure to consult with your hanging sign company – (we do not take responsibility for any damage from using any chemicals on your hanging sign!)

4. Damaged or Scratched Plexiglas – We use Novus Plexiglas Cleaning Products – Good to have fresh Novus 1, Novus 2 and Novus 3. A buffing pad attached to a cordless drill works great and fast to clean up the Plexiglas Scratches. If you have broken Plexiglas – simply take the broken piece and reattach using MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) to glue it back – use very sparingly and do not (never) clean with lacquer thinner. This will shatter Plexiglas. Always carry a little MEK in your tool kit if you have Plexiglas.

5. Electrical – Eventually, you may overload a single electrical circuit. To alleviate this problem, be sure to label each end of every electrical cable not only with an identification number, but also with the wattage or amperage. This will ensure a quick resolution by the electrician. Usually, it is as simple as moving the circuit on the main power panel. If these cords are not identified – then this may become time consuming and more importantly expensive as the problem will have to be tracked down. Usually, this only applies to larger exhibits, but it is a good practice to know your power layouts!

We hope these simple tips help you at your next trade show or event. Really, just common sense, but the most important thing when encountering a problem is to stay calm and resolve the issue by focusing on it immediately. Do not wait to fix it right before the show – just repair as you go and you will have a better experience.

If you need any further guidance on how to solve problems at a trade show please give us a call, we would be happy to chat!