Trade Show Takeaways: What We Left Behind

We recently published a series of blog posts called the Trade Show Survival Guide with the goal of giving people helpful pre- and post-show tips. But as much as you prepare beforehand—and as often as you ask yourself “do we REALLY have everything”—you’re destined to leave a few important items back at the office. That said, we’re not afraid to admit that we forgot to pack a few random things during our most recent trip to the 2013 OPRA Convention in Columbus:

Extension Cord

Without this item, we would have been at the mercy of a (greedy) convention center that charged a bogus $90+/day for electricity. (Wha-what?) However, we were resourceful enough to score an extra extension cord from one booth and bum some power from another neighbor. (Thanks for being kind enough to share. We promise to pass on the good trade show karma.)

Garbage Bag

In order to keep your exhibit booth looking clean and tidy, you must dispose of your garbage. Seriously…no one wants to check out your table with trash lying everywhere. But where can you conveniently put empty water bottles and candy wrappers if the only garbage can is about half-a-mile away? Bring your own bag, of course. A simple plastic or paper grocery bag will do the trick. Lesson learned for next time.


Don’t wait for the tradeshow coordinator to offer you a water bottle. Bring your own to save money or be forced to pay top dollar for a beverage from a vending machine. Trust me: when the crowd comes rushing in, you won’t have time to run to the drinking fountain and you’ll soon be parched! We’ll be packing plenty of our own water bottles in the future.

Business Cards

We’re at a tradeshow, people! You. Must. Bring. Business cards. (And, by the way, if your current design is downright fugly, check out these tips for great business card design.) Trade shows are huge networking events. It’s essential that you have business cards to hand out to new contacts, vendors and leads. Luckily, we had plenty on hand, but at least half of the people who stopped by our booth didn’t have a single business card. We’ll be providing fill-in-the-blank ones for these unprepared tradeshow-goers in the future.

Duct Tape

Duct tape fixes everything, period. So if that silly stand is leaning to the side, or the weird tablecloth just won’t stay in place, put some duct tape on it. Otherwise, you’ll risk tripping over your own display.


That’s our short list of items you might forget to bring to a trade show, but did we miss anything? What have you left behind before a big conference or meeting that you wished you hadn’t forgotten? Leave us a comment below!