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Your Trade Show Display Didn’t Arrive – Now What?

Despite proper planning, exceptional organization and diligence on your part, there are some things that are beyond your control when planning for a trade show. If you arrive on the floor to discover that your trade show display is nowhere in sight, don’t panic! It may merely be misplaced, but if it is missing, there are steps you can take to salvage even this disaster.

Make Every Attempt To Locate Your Trade Show Display

Don’t bother pestering the labor crew while they’re busy trying to set up dozens of booths for other exhibitors who are just as frazzled as you are. Instead, go straight to whoever is in charge, explain the situation and ask if they can help you locate your missing trade show display. The person in charge should immediately designate someone to help you; after all, their reputation rests on exhibitor satisfaction. Venue management will also be familiar with all the nooks and crannies where a misdirected shipment might end up. If by some miracle they find your shipment, take the time to carefully check your table top displays and banner stand to make sure they haven’t been damaged. If there is some damage, be sure to take a picture, jot down some notes and fill out an accident report with the venue.

If your trade show display is nowhere on the venue premises, contact your shipping or freight carrier and ask them to put a trace on the delivery. If you have a tracking number for your shipment it shouldn’t take much time for them to locate it and let you know how quickly they can get it to you. If they can’t find it, be sure to file a claim with the carrier.

Lost Giveaways Don’t Have To Shut You Down

It isn’t always your main trade show display that is lost or misdirected. It may arrive safely while a separate box or shipment with your table top displays or giveaways mysteriously disappears. If your brochures or flyers don’t arrive, you may need to talk to a local printer about a rush job. It can be costly, but it’s usually worth it. Attendees expect to get some take-home information from exhibitors and you don’t want to disappoint them. For this purpose, you should always have a disk with your brochure templates in your carry-on bag or briefcase.

Lost giveaways are a tougher call. You probably can’t turn around a special order for branded gifts quickly enough, but there are ways to salvage the situation. Call a local bakery and order some cookies or some other tasty treat to give to visitors; be sure to order enough for the duration of the event. Visitors will remember you for the delicious snack rather than remembering you as the booth that was too cheap (in their minds) to provide a giveaway!

Deflect The Problem With Humor

Depending on what all is missing, you may be able to use a bit of humor to pique the interest of attendees while you’re waiting for your missing table top displays, banner stand or other elements to arrive. If you know they will arrive the next day for a week long event, it may not be cost effective to order new graphics for one day, but you can certainly order a bold banner stand or sign that says, “Coming Soon! The Lost (Company Name Here) Trade Show Display!” Attendees always appreciate humor, and they’ll probably stop by to commiserate with you, particularly if they’ve ever been in your shoes.

Preventing A Missing Trade Show Display

To minimize the risk of misdirected or missing elements, be sure to work with a reputable shipping company that uses tracking numbers so that you can keep track of your shipment. Check in online every day so that you know where your items are along the delivery route and whether it’s been diverted. Avoid standard shipping if you can, as these delivery dates generally fall within a range rather than being exact and they aren’t guaranteed. It’s worth the extra money for a shipment that’s guaranteed to arrive by noon the next day if the alternative is three to five business days without a promise that it will arrive on time.

Finally, pack a few of your smaller elements with you if at all possible. That way, even if the majority of your trade show display is missing, you can at least set out a banner stand or a few or table top displays to let attendees know you’re there.

Skyline can quickly turn around a rush order for table top displays and other exhibit elements if your trade show display ( or banner stand is lost in transit. To find your local Skyline representative,visit

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