What to include in your RFP (Request for Proposal)

Before you send out an RFP for your trade show booth, there are a few critical factors that you need to finalize. This includes your budget, booth size and exhibit needs. Sending out a very general RFP will either turn contractors away, have them chasing you for details or end up with a pile of proposals that don’t match your needs.

Next you need to decide if you want to hire a design company to create the final concept then send it out to contractors to build it for you (this helps when comparing costs) or if you want to receive design/build proposals from contractors.

Next, decide which contractors you are going to contact. If you don’t already have a list of reliable companies, ask the show organizers for recommendations. You can also ask your industry peers for contacts. Read here for tips on choosing a reliable trade show contractor.

Things to include in the RFP

  • Your RFP should include as much information as is needed for the designers to understand your company’s style.
  • Name, date and location of the exhibition
  • Size of your booth
  • Your company logo, brand guidelines, website URL and other marketing materials that you think would be relevant when designing a concept for your trade show booth
  • Who your competitors are and what differentiates you from them. Also, who your customers are
  • Your show objectives – sales, product and communication objectives for the show
  • What you liked and disliked about your previous exhibits
  • Special elements that you would like to see in your exhibit display
  • Be specific – if you have certain requirements for flooring, furniture, meeting rooms, etc. be specific from the beginning of the process
  • The services required from your contractor – do you want a full show campaign including marketing, PR, swag and your exhibit or just the booth? Do you need a member of their team present at your booth throughout the show?
  • Areas within the booth – how many people do you need seating for? Do you need a kitchen with a sink and fridge? Do you need meeting rooms? Will you have products on display and do you need a demonstration area? Think about your reception, storage areas and anything else you might require.
  • Lighting, audio-visual equipment and graphic requirements – you can ask for their suggestions if you don’t have anything specific in mind.
  • Timeline and budget – your budget is probably the most important thing to include in your RFP. Without this, it is close to impossible to design a suitable exhibit display. Also include the deadline for submission of proposals.


To ensure that you remember to add in the details every time you send out an RFP, create a template that you can follow. Some contractors send you their own template to fill in so that they can ensure they receive all the necessary information from you.

Trade Show Checklist

Author: Komal Qaiser

Being in charge of a company’s entire tradeshow presence can sound extremely daunting! Yes, there is a lot to handle but with the right amount of planning, it can be a great experience.

  • Book booth space
  • If interested, look at sponsorship opportunities
  • Book a press room, if required
  • Hire a contractor to build your exhibition booth
  • Have your exhibition stand design approved by the show organizers
  • Arrange flight/hotel booking for staff attending the trade show
  • Order name badges for employees
  • Prepare a media kit
  • Order your marketing collateral and gift items (brochures, folders, envelopes, etc)
  • Order business cards for the employees attending
  • Order flowers
  • Order water and electricity (if needed)
  • Creatives for your booth graphics and sponsorship
  • Book hostesses
  • Book a photographer
  • Write a brief for the hostesses and photographer
  • Register badges for everyone attending
  • Uniforms for staff/hostesses
  • Social media posts about the event
  • Email your contacts and set up a meeting calendar
  • Follow up with the contractor building your booth
  • Send a shipment of marketing materials to your hotel or straight to the convention center
  • Cash for vendors that need onsite payment – discuss payment methods beforehand
  • Scissors, tape, stapler, fishbowl for business cards, business card holder, phone charger – these things really come in handy!
  • Camera – even if there is a photographer there, someone at the booth should be taking pictures for social media and other platforms so that you can post things as they happen
  • All-purpose wipes – these will be handy for the reception desks and tables as dust gathers so fast and fingerprints don’t help!

Tips for Trade Show Surveys

As a marketer, there must be so many different questions that you wish you knew the answer to. Which publication does everyone in the industry read and how can I make sure my target audience and decision makers see my marketing efforts? Many of our marketing strategies are based on guess-work and optimism. For this reason, being present at a trade show and having easy access to so many people from your industry can be an extremely valuable situation.

Before a show, jot down all the questions that you may have and decide which ones you think will be easy to have answered at the exhibition. Create a survey and approach people visiting your booth to see if they would be willing to spare a minute to complete the survey.

Make it worthwhile – put the names of the people that took the survey in a draw or raffle and give them something for helping you out.

Keep it short – don’t overload the survey with questions. Put some serious thought into the questions you are asking and don’t throw in any old question that comes to mind. Too many questions will mean people will be likely to speed through it and put any answer down to just get it done and over with.

Relevant questions – ask questions like which publication they like to read, how they heard about your company, what perception they have of your company based on your brand image, if they use your product/services and if they would recommend them to others, what trade shows they plan to attend and other questions that will help you retrieve answers to your questions.

Don’t be pushy – if someone does not want to answer the survey, don’t try to push them to take it – chances are they will be the least bit interested in giving you any significant information.

Use the information wisely – once you have collected the information, it is time to analyse the results. Discuss it with your team, see how you can benefit from the information you have acquired and pass information on to relevant departments so everyone can do their part to ensure the survey was a worthwhile exercise for your company.

Was it worth it? Tracking Trade Show ROI

With trade shows springing up across the globe – each more promising than the last, it is easy to get lured into exhibiting at more shows than you had initially anticipated. As a marketing professional, you have probably been asked to measure ROI of your trade show participation to show that it was worth the investment. Unfortunately many events end up over-promising and under-delivering and therefore don’t yield enough business to justify participation.

 Clearly define your goals and objectives before the trade show – without goals, measuring ROI is next to impossible. Plan your goals and create metrics that will allow you to easily track them.

Record trade show leads – you can do this the traditional way by colleting business cards in a fish bowl and speaking to your sales team or use the digital options available (sync directly to your CRM). To effectively measure the ROI, you will need to track and monitor these leads and this could take weeks or months after the show. The leads produced may vary significantly in terms of value. Track leads for greater insights.

Calculate your lifetime customer value using CM software

Tip: To maximise your trade show ROIchoose the right show, get PR coverage, ensure there is adequate pre-show marketing, host an event, stay active on social media, ensure your booth is welcoming and your sales team is trained and have a strong follow-up policy in place for post-show marketing.

To calculate your trade show revenue:

Count the number of leads collected at the show, estimate the average number that will result in a sale (CRP), calculate the average value of a sale from a trade show lead. Next, total your participation cost and use this formula for trade show revenue.

leads x close rate % x average sale value = estimated show revenue

Tips for Trade Show Press Releases

Author: Komal Qaiser

Your company’s presence at a trade show can be a game changer. You can either make or break your brand or, even worse, go completely unnoticed. Big stands, sponsorships and key staff members present will get you noticed but to grab attention from the press, put off important company announcements until an industry event.

Many companies work on deals, product launches and partnerships months before a show begins. However, if you can wait then it is a good idea to coincide the news with a trade show. This way, you can get into the dailies and have your news delivered directly to your target audience.

Announce before the show – Dailies are magazines that different publications publish every day at the show. Find out which publications are being distributed at the show, contact their editors and tell them about your news. When your press release is ready, send it to the members of press with a clearly marked release date (mention the show name and date) and let them know it is under embargo so the news does not get out. Let them know you are open for interviews if they would like to come by your booth to meet with key people and offer you an editorial. Even better, try to get an interview with the relevant person at your company before the show so that it can be published in the dailies.

Hold a press conference – most exhibition halls have limited press rooms so it’s important that you make the booking well in advance. Schedule the press conference a day or two before the first day of the show and send an email out to media personnel.

Have a good media/press kit ready – add company information, product and service information, recent press releases and articles, profiles on members of your management team, your contact details and any other relevant company information you want the media to know about. Remember, members of the press receive press kits all the time so it is important to have a good quality, professional kit if you want to get their attention.

Visit the press room – at the trade exhibition, there will be a press room where key media personnel sit and write up their stories. On the day before the show, pop by the room. Outside the room, you can usually find cubby holes dedicated to each publication. Drop a print out of the press release (preferably on company paper) along with a media kit. If you can, go into the press room and see if you manage to catch one of the journalists to see if they can feature your news!

Look for speaker opportunities – many shows have small networking events and conferences where people from the industry gather for panel discussions or as solo speakers. Contact the show organizers months in advance and see if there are any opportunities available where you think your company would have relevant input.

Try to get an editorial with an industry or big publication – speak to the journalists and see if you can score an interview with key people from your company. Most times, journalists would love to hear from you – provided you have credible information that is relevant to the topic in discussion.

Send out a teaser and mail blast – send out a mail to everyone in your database letting them know you will be at the show and that you have some big news for them! Don’t tell them what the news is but perhaps you can give them a hint to keep it interesting.

Hold a press morning or breakfast at your booth – invite key media personnel to your stand for a coffee morning or breakfast. If you are in charge of the company’s PR and media presence, go around and introduce yourself. Hand them your business card and ask them if they have received your media kit. Tell them what news you have recently released and try to get an interview with someone from your company.

Have an email blast ready to send to your database when the news is announced – when the news is released, send an email out to everyone in the database. Let them know what the news is because not everyone will be at the trade show or have access to the dailies.

Inform your team and booth staff – ensure they all have as much information as possible so that visitors to the booth can have their questions answered – you don’t want your staff to find out about the news at the same time as everyone else because chances are people that have read the news in the dailies will stop by your booth for a chat or have questions for your staff members. Make sure they are all prepared to answer clients and prospects.

Throw a booth party – if it’s really big news and your budget allows, throw a booth party! You can have a themed one or a combined one if you have partnered with someone. There are plenty of possibilities – you just need to figure out what your target market would enjoy.

Use social media – reach out to visitors of the show and other industry contacts and potential clients by broadcasting your news across your social media platforms.

Many exhibitions have a press section on their website where you can see which publications are going to be publishing dailies and also get a list of the media contacts that will be present.