Exhibiting at a trade show is an excellent opportunity for companies to meet new prospects, strengthen relationships with existing customers, launch new products, increase brand awareness, and capture and qualify leads. With so many big-wigs with buying authority under one roof, it’s no wonder organizations continue to see the value in face-to-face events. In fact, 4 out of 5 people walking the aisles are potential customers for exhibitors.   However, most trade shows last only three days. So, it’s necessary to make the most of this limited time, even when it’s slow on the last day. It’s troublesome when you walk the aisles on the last day of any show and see exhibit staff packing up boxes, storing literature, sitting around, or leaving the booth entirely. On more than one occasion we’ve seen visitors wandering the booth looking for someone to speak with or wanting information to take back to their offices.

Here are three reasons not to shortchange the last day:

1. People have more time and business gets done.

Attendees often see as much as they can on the first couple of days and make notes of those exhibits they want to revisit when they have more time. Booth staffers have more time to engage in deeper conversations, as well. The last day of any trade show can be prime time to turn prospects into customers.

2. You miss out on opportunities to make new contacts.

Even if the visitor isn’t a current prospect, they may be in the future. Don’t let those last minute opportunities pass you by. When there is less booth traffic, staff can delve into the nitty-gritty of the features and benefits of their company’s solutions. They can scan badges and take more detailed notes. There’s time to chew the fat and make a new contact who might purchase down the line.

3. It flat-out looks bad!

There is one hour left and exhibitors have boxes, wires and plasma screens sitting in the middle of the booth! Or, all the literature is stacked waiting to be put back in containers. Badge scanning devices have already been returned to the vendor. Or perhaps reps have left the booth entirely, hoping to get on an earlier flight. What does this telegraph to the attendee making a beeline for a booth in time to talk with a representative? It says we’re done! Nothing going on here, move along. If an attendee walks away with a bad impression of the way staff conducted themselves in the booth, they may equate that to the company in general.

This is not a good look!

This is not a good look!

What can exhibitors do to avoid losing motivation on the last day of the trade show and looking bad to attendees? The first is obvious.

  • Don’t break down the booth. Most exhibit managers would have a conniption fit if they observed staff closing up shop. Additionally, certain trade shows prohibit early tear down and fine companies for doing so.
  • Train your staff well. Exhibit managers must impress upon the team to be attentive and available until the end of the show. Don’t adopt bad booth etiquette because the traffic is slow. Also, schedule enough people on the last day and make sure they are the A-team.
  • Accept your fate. The show takes place over a certain number of days, right down to the last minute. Enjoy this time and be positive and good-natured about it.

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Always remember that even on the last day attendees are still on the hunt for the best solutions for their companies. Remember, last minute booth visitors could be potential customers seeking meaningful interactions. Make every moment count! If you want to be the company people do business with, play Frisbee in the park instead of in the trade show aisles.

C.C. Carr, TPG Jill of all Trades and Contributing Author