Whether you’re going to man a large booth with a team or will run a small table on your own, attending a trade show is a lot of work. There’s a lot you need to prepare for, and even more, you need to bring. 

Finding trade show supplies is simple. There’s no shortage of places to get tablecloths, branded merchandise, and signs. But it’s difficult to decide what to bring and what you should leave home. 

Since you’re already busy preparing for the show, we’re going to help you out by telling you our top 10 must-haves for trade shows. If you bring everything on this list, you’ll be prepared for anything!

1. Pens and Pencils 

In today’s highly tech-driven world you may not remember the last time you physically wrote something down. You may not use pens and pencils much, but you’ll need them on the tradeshow floor. 

You never know when someone will want to jot down a quick note or add an additional number or email address to a business card. Having writing tools handy will make exchanging quick information simple.

It’s also worth noting that pens and pencils have the tendency to “travel” during these events. So be sure to bring some backups for when you start to run out. 

2. Extra Business Cards

How many business cards are you planning on bringing to your tradeshow? Whether that’s 100 or 1,000, you should consider doubling that number. 

Business cards can fly out of your hands the moment you get to your booth or start working the floor. You’re going to want to make sure that you have plenty of extras on hand.

You never know when you’ll make a good business connection. If you think someone should talk to your sales manager or COO, bring their cards so you can make the right introductions. 

3. A Box Cutter

This may seem like a strange “must-have” item for a trade show, but you only need to struggle to covertly open one box behind your table to know that you need one. 

When you’re focused on getting everything set up for your show, you tend to forget that you’ll need to pack everything up and get it back to the office. Trade show exhibit storage is important, and a box cutter can make it easier.

Ripping open boxes doesn’t look good, and it also makes them nearly unusable when the tradeshow ends. Unless you want to find spare boxes or pay for them at UPS, take care of your boxes and open them carefully with your box cutter.

4. Creative Promotional Items

There’s nothing wrong with having some pens and pads of paper with your company’s name on them. They’re the baseline promotional items every company should have.

They’re also very forgettable and will be mixed in with everyone else’s pens and pads of paper.

If you really want to make an impression on the tradeshow floor, think about items people are going to want to use.

Hand sanitizer with your company’s name on it can help keep people germ free as they shake hands. A laptop camera cover can be a simple reminder of your business whenever someone opens their laptop.

5. Organizers 

Having the right items to display on your table is one thing, but displaying them in an organized fashion can easily take your table to the next level.

It’s so easy for your table to get disorganized when you’re working a long show. People are going to be moving your things around and exploring the table. Don’t make it easy for them to mess things up.

Get a simple business card holder for all of your business cards, and consider getting designated jars and boxes for your promotional items. 

6. Extension cords

You haven’t been truly entertained until you’ve seen a marketing executive struggle to plug in a device that’s too far from the outlet. To avoid electrical mishaps, pack plenty of extension cords when you man your booth. 

Try to add some variety to the sizes you bring. Be sure to bring at least one long one you can stretch far, and a few short ones that can add a little length when it’s needed.

7. Mints 

You’re going to be doing a lot of talking and meeting tons of new people. The last thing you want to do is be remembered as the person with really bad breath!

Some people like to bring a small toothbrush and toothpaste when they attend tradeshows. They can be helpful have, but they can’t be used discreetly or in a hurry.

Be sure to choose mints over breath-freshening gum. Mints can eventually dissolve, but gum needs to be disposed of. 

8. Detergent Pen 

Coffee spills happen and cheap pens can break. You won’t want to be caught in stained clothing, that’s why it’s always a good idea to bring a detergent pen. 

If you plan on wearing a suit or high-end apparel, be sure to test out the pen on a small and discreet spot before you use it. You’ll want to see how the chemicals react with the color and fabric to make sure it’s safe to use.

9. Snacks 

When you’re the only one working the booth, you can’t just get up and grab food whenever you’re hungry. This is why it’s always a good idea to bring some things to eat to tide you over until your next meal. 

Go for small and tidy snacks that won’t leave a lot of crumbs. Trail mix and protein bars are always a good choice. Also, add some water to quench your thirst.

10. First Aid Kit 

You never know when a headache or nasty paper cut can happen at a tradeshow. That’s why it’s always a good idea to pack a small first aid kit to bring with you.

Be sure to have the basics like band-aids, antibiotic ointment, and a pain reliever like Tylenol. Who knows, your first aid kit could help someone at the table next to you or someone that stops by!

Go Beyond Trade Show Supplies

Certain trade show supplies are obvious, but there are plenty of helpful things you can use during your next show. Coming prepared is important, and if you follow this list you’ll have everything you need!

Do you want more tips on trade shows, events, and business? Are you curious about marketing, management, and other professional topics?

We have a lot of content available right here on our website. Be sure to browse what we have and find information on what you’re the most passionate about.