Trade show risk planning, identification and management

Trade shows are a fantastic opportunity for companies to showcase new products and services. If a show is well planned and managed, companies can expect to meet numerous potential customers and generate strong sales leads. A poorly planned and managed show, however, can tarnish a company’s reputation and provide a poor return on investment.

As part of the trade show project planning process, the project manager must lead the show team in identifying all risks associated with the trade show. The goal of this process is to document all essential information relating to project risk.

The below information is intended to assist in this trade show planning process and is not intended to be a complete risk assessment. Each company will have unique business objectives supporting with the trade show project. The risk identification process must support these business objectives

For additional information relating to risk, refer to the Project Diva article on project risk identification and management.

Risk ID

Category

Description

Conditions

Impact Description

Possible mitigation

1

Overall

Poor event turnout

Unforeseen conditions may also contribute (e.g. weather,
etc.)

Poor ROI; minimal sales leads; poor sales; over-purchase of give-aways,
materials

Vetting of show venue; show attendee profile; purchase re-useable
give-aways; marketing campaign to target specific key
customers

2

Overall

Poor ROI

 

 

Define measurement of show success; clearly define show goals and
objectives

3

Scope

Lack of site traffic to booth

Booth location

 

Staff to physically direct potential customers to
booth

4

Budget

Trade show costs limit booth location and size options

Limited budget

Reduced traffic to booth; reduced sales leads; poor ROI

Consider partnering with a supporting product vendor; show business
case analysis

5

Materials

Manufacturer delay in shipping show materials to home
office

 

Materials not available for show; negative credibility

Research and identify alternative vendors; order materials
early

6

Materials

Booth/materials damaged in shipping to show venue

 

 

Professional packing and unpacking; contingency plan for display;
verify insurance coverage

7

Staffing

Personnel not available; show marketing and/or execution plans are too
labor intensive.

 

Negative credibility; technical trade show staff are unavailable to
support normal business operations

Schedule at least 1 month in advance; identify and train alternative
staff; financial incentives

8

Technical

Technical display failure

 

Poor sales; negative credibility

Full system testing; budget for and bring redundant
equipment

9

Technical

Demo errors

 

Negative credibility

Full system testing using multiple test groups

10

Technical

Useless prospect data gathered from show

 

Poor ROI

Standardized forms; staff bonus based on data
usability

11

Technical

Positive risk of overselling units

 

Unable to deliver on time

Review historical trade show sales records;

Trade show risk planning, identification and management (.docx format)

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