Tradeshow season is upon us. For most of us, the majority of conventions are within the next 6-8 months. That said, perhaps you are planning for your next tradeshow to exhibit your company and its innovations. Planning a tradeshow trip takes a lot of work, and even the most observant perfectionist will sometimes forget to pack certain items for their booth. These are the kind of items you don’t think of when you’re packing. They’re the type of gear that you don’t realize you need until you’re actually setting up your booth, or worse, you see them at your competitor’s booth on the trade show floor. [Grumpy Face]

To keep that from happening, we’ve listed the top 5 items people forget to take to tradeshows.

Related: 11 Insights to Kick-Start Your Tradeshow

Business card collector

There are a lot of people at tradeshows. Duh. There are a lot of people who have business cards. Duh, again. So it is surprising that a lot of exhibitors don’t bring something to collect business cards at their booth!

All of these people are potential contacts. Especially if they show up at your booth, they are already halfway down your marketing funnel. Make sure to have a way that they can just drop their business card off so you can update your contacts later.

One of the best things to bring is a glass fish bowl. Seriously! Bring a glass fish bowl and set it on your booth table. You could even have a small raffle where all they have to do is drop their business card into the bowl and they may win something. You will see it fill up throughout the day and it will provide a visual to other show-goers that your company is poppin, or lit, or whatever the newest nomenclature is for being hip.

Top tip: Also bring a business card stand to display your business cards and any colleagues who will be at the show.

Promo items/swag

I love free stuff. You love free stuff. People in general love free stuff. One of the best things about going to tradeshows is all the free stuff that you inevitably walk away with, sometimes needing to ship that stuff back home so it doesn’t count toward more baggage fees.

The weird part is that some companies don’t bring swag or promo items. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as little as a branded pen, but don’t forget to bring something that will remind people of your brand. You want them to remember visiting your booth after the show when they are on their flight home.

Branded tablecloth

There is nothing more depressing than going to a booth and the company has fancy signs, fancy monitors, and even fancy swag, but in the middle is a plain white plastic table. It throws the whole booth off and doesn’t do anything to promote your brand.

This is an easy fix. All you have to do is get something to cover the table! For extra points, make it a branded tablecloth with your logo prominently displayed to your booth visitors. It is amazing that a lot of companies forget to do this simple step, so don’t be that brand!

Related: 4 Tips to Make your Trade Show Booth “Sense-sational”

Writing utensils

There is a surprising amount of writing that gets done at tradeshows. Whether that is writing down contact information, or taking notes at a panel, you can’t go a whole show without some sort of writing utensil.

However, you should bring a surplus of pens or pencils so you don’t run out and always have a way to take down information. That way you can be a resource for those who lose their pens as well! It’s a great tactic to be remembered!

Snacks, for both you and guests

Let’s face it; it is hard work to exhibit at a tradeshow. It is just as hard to attend a tradeshow and see everything you want to see. And since we haven’t figured out how to turn ourselves into robots yet, hunger is still a problem we must solve.

Unfortunately, how many times have you been at your booth and realized there is nothing for you to snack on? Probably more often than not if you are like most people. Whether the catering vendor is on the other side of the convention floor, or you are just too popular to have the time to take a break, make sure you have snacks on board.

If you want to really make your booth a showstopper, have snacks for your visitors! Look, everyone is hungry at these events. Be a hero to them and don’t forget to bring some food!


We know planning for a tradeshow is tough. There is a lot to remember. Let Ironmark help you by taking that burden. We will be a partner and do the heavy lifting so you won’t forget any of these essential items. Contact us today!

Written by Ashley Freeman

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