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What Drives Exhibitors Crazy

I’ve shared blogs and webinars from Marlys Arnold before. Here is another good one (paraphrased) that is geared toward the show organizers for the benefit of the exhibitors.

How can a show manager head off complaints from exhibitors? Think like the exhibitor, and be proactive about the most frequent problems. BizBash has compiled a list of 23 of the most common things cited by seasoned exhibitors. Be sure to read this article for more insights, but here’s my own Top Five based on the comments I’ve heard from exhibitors at shows across the country over the past 15-plus years (besides the obvious, never-ending issues regarding cost).


1. Venue aggravations
Certain convention centers inspire groans from experienced exhibitors at the mere mention of their names. Whether it’s because of poorly-structured loading docks, union labor issues, or horrible Wi-Fi, venues can inspire a lot of grumbling that show managers have little (if any) control over.


2. Unsupported attendance data
Show organizers have a bad reputation (although often well-deserved) of over-inflating attendance numbers. Even though show audits have been around for many years, very few shows use third-party audits to prove their numbers.



3. Frazzled logistics & communication
With the ability to move all paperwork online now, there’s really no excuse for not having everything streamlined and simple to access. But at the same time, exhibitors want to feel like there’s someone to reach out to when they have a question or concern. It’s important to maintain clear channels of communication, both inbound and outbound, from the show management team.


4. Lack of show-only hours
While this has improved tremendously at most shows, some still try to cram far too many activities into the schedule. Unless exhibitors can see there are times where the show floor is not competing with anything else, they will get frustrated — and rightly so! I’ve participated in shows where we spent large chunks of time each day looking at empty aisles while attendees were in sessions.



5. Not appreciating exhibitors or giving them a voice
Show organizers must always remember that without exhibitors, there wouldn’t be a show. Offer ways to reward and acknowledge exhibitors and let them have a role in the overall success of a show, such as having an exhibitor advisory board or offering unexpected perks like a plush exhibitor lounge or roaming ice cream cart on setup days.


Read/Listen for Yourself

About Marlys Arnold

With experience as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community. To request an “Extra Shot of Exhibit Success” go to


What are YOUR thoughts on all this? We’d like to hear your comments!




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