Avoid These Five Typical Trade Show Mistakes


When industry suppliers head to a trade show, their primary goal is to engage with customers and present their products and services in the best way possible, but seasoned pros know that a space is only part of the equation. To make sure everything goes right, avoid making these five common trade show mistakes:

Barriers to Entry
You want potential buyers to have easy access to your booth, so keep an open and inviting entryway. While trade show tables are a must, placing them in front of your booth space and sitting behind them creates a barrier between you and your buyers. To make your products and the people selling them more accessible, place display tables at an angle in the corners of the booth space or off to a side so you can easily greet customers, shake hands and direct them to the products or services that best meet their needs.

Pre-Show Promotion 
You’ll get more bang for your buck if you inform both your current and potential customers that you’ll be at the tradeshow. Take time before the show to send out emails announcing your booth number or call customers directly to set up a time to meet. Use The NATSO ShowExhibitor Marketing Guide, which includes some of the many ways NATSO can support your marketing efforts.

You can also use social media to connect with customers. Post onNATSO’s Facebook wall; stay up on the latest news from The NATSO Show and tweet with attendees by connecting with @NATSOShow on Twitter. You can also join the conversation with truckstop and travel plaza operators on NATSO’s blog.

Sending the Wrong People 
Tradeshow attendees are looking for answers, so make sure you send employees that are knowledgeable and have the power to negotiate contracts and make decisions. The NATSO Show is a terrific opportunity to connect with buyers face-to-face, so make sure those manning the booth don’t send them away with comments such as, "I'll have to check with the owner and follow up later."

Not Following Up with Attendees 
One of the most common mistakes exhibitors make is not following up with potential customers after the tradeshow is over. Sometimes buyers want to head back to their location to think through a product or discuss it with staff. So, take the time to follow-up with everyone who showed interest in your products or services. You can place a phone call or send them an email.

Not Connecting with the Competition 
While its true that you’ll be among your competition at The NATSO Show, there is no reason to avoid connecting with them. Possible partnerships may result or you may learn something about the industry that you didn’t know before. It’s also possible that at some point a competitor may not be able to meet an operator’s needs and could send the business your way.


{HBMHighway Business Matters is a brief semi-monthly newsletter created exclusively for companies that provide products or services to the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Highway Business Matters will keep you informed on trends, tactics, and tips to help you connect to the $65 billion truckstop and travel plaza industry. 

Help tailor Highway Business Matters to meet your needs by sharing your feedback and story ideas. Send your input to: atoner@natso.com.

Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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