A Checklist for Planning an Event or Trade Show

Planning an event from start to finish is a rewarding but demanding task. If you’re not quite sure where to start, we’ve broken the process down into three phases with real examples from our most recent partnership with SNAC International for their bi-annual trade show, SNX 2024, in Dallas, Texas! 

PHASE 1: Objectives, Budget, and Venue 

The first and most important thing to consider when you start planning is to determine the goals for your event. Are you working to increase members? Connect members with industry businesses and industry experts to elevate their success? Increase profits to be invested in future networking events, education, or advocacy efforts? Defining this early on will help dictate the depth of your event and success metrics.  

From there, your budget and venue decision will also fall into place. It is helpful to make a list of anticipated costs upfront, leaving room for unexpected expenses; including venue rental and catering to staffing and marketing. Since venues are often expensive and can fill up 2-3 years in advance, it is important to prioritize your search to secure your requested dates. 

Depending on your event needs, finding an appropriate venue to fit your needs can be more complex. SNX, SNAC International’s education and collaboration forum, was unique in that the event required 150+ private meeting spaces, as well as areas for a smaller exhibit hall and education meeting rooms.  The event was ultimately hosted at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas. The deciding factor was the hotel’s prime location for their members, ample space for their needs, and willingness to transition their guest rooms and suites into proper business meeting space.

With the size of the venue, we created a floor plan with plenty of space for both meetings and vendor kiosks.

PHASE 2: Event Logistics and Promotion 

The next phase, and the most time-consuming, includes the many operational pieces that occur up until the day of your event. Most venues will provide detailed floorplans so that you can begin to layout elements such as kiosks, seating areas, stages, and meeting spaces. Be sure to schedule a site visit 9-12 months in advance to understand the layout of the venue, how attendees will flow throughout the venue, and assess what on-site signage is needed. 

To ensure your tradeshow is well attended, you should develop a promotional strategy that will get the word out over a variety of channels. This can include emails, retargeting, geotargeting similar events, text/voice messaging, social media, PR, media partnerships, and exhibitor outreach marketing. Additionally, you can nail down the look and branding for your event. Specific colors, fonts, or themes used in promotional materials are crucial in developing a unique personality that consumers will begin to associate with your tradeshow. 

Though there were several different activation areas at SNX with their own look and feel, all the graphics were designed with SNAC International’s central branding in mind. We worked closely with the client to know when to promote certain areas, speakers, and sales.

Signage, signage, and more signage! Our amazing creative team was behind all the pieces you see above.

PHASE 3: On-Site Management, Engagement, and Evaluation 

The day of your event has finally arrived – but there is still plenty to do in this final stretch. Once you get to your venue, final walkthroughs and a thorough review of your schedule will start you off on the right path to ensure everything runs smoothly. When attendees arrive, be certain to prioritize their experience. Whether it be helping to facilitate networking opportunities or even just finding their way around, details play a huge part in guest participation. 

As you collect feedback and reflect on everything up to this point, think back to the initial goals for the event. Are those objectives being met? Did attendees get what you intended from your tradeshow? Be certain to analyze this feedback and don’t forget to thank all the people that made your event a success. 

The results from SNX 2024 were overwhelmingly positive, with the event growing 35% from its launch in 2022. 65 participating supplier companies held over 700 meetings over the course of two days, providing an efficient way for snack manufacturers and brands to improve their business operations. Stay tuned for 2026, where our goals are even bigger and better! 

From interactive games to educational panels, we successfully promoted SNX as a can’t-beat industry event.

If you would like help with marketing, advertising, or event planning, feel free to contact us. We offer a variety of services like digital marketing & analytics, marketing & brand strategy, and more to small and large companies. 

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