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Planning for outdoor trade shows
“Each year, outdoor trade shows become more and more common. Why be cooped up in a crowded exhibit hall when you could be enjoying a warm, sunny day? Outdoor trade shows are usually set in beautiful locations, with stable and predictable climates, which allow exhibitors to prepare for the weather in advance. More and more trade shows are moving outdoors, and these trade shows are statistically more profitable for exhibitors and attendees than indoor trade shows.”—Andy Keeler, Trade Show Marketing BlogWhether yours is a company that sells “outdoor lifestyle” products, items in support of sporting activities or food and beverage-related items, you may have been invited to participate in an outdoor trade show. If you haven’t … you are in for a treat!Outdoor trade shows evolved from music festivals and art fairs, while importing the serious sophistication of traditional indoor trade shows. They are often a best-practices forum for outdoor sporting equipment and lifestyle support products. They are not, however, low-key granola affairs that you can afford to dismiss.

As with any trade show, preparation is of the utmost importance.

  1. Regardless of location, your market, brand, target and message must have strategic alignment so you can set, monitor and achieve measurable goals.
  2. Target the location. Ideas that may have been too “big” for the exhibit hall may well fly here due to less vertical space restrictions. For example, construction equipment trade shows feature the actual trucks, hoes, etc. used in that industry and are often available for demonstration.
  3. Consider your staffing carefully. As Mike Thimmish of Skyline Tradeshow Tips reminds us, while it’s important at all trade shows, in this milieu, you really need to staff employees who match the image you are trying to sell with your product—an exterior trade show has a different vibe than an interior one. In addition, weather is now a critical consideration. Ensure staff is properly prepared for the climate, including apparel like fleece jackets or windbreakers.
  4. Offer leave-behinds, incentives and promotional items also conducive to the outdoors theme, such as rugged stainless steel water bottles or lip balm your company logo on it.
  5. Ultimately, make sure that your displays are up to the demands of the weather. You need materials that will take the sun as well as withstand wind or rain. A general must-have is a sturdy canopy. You’ll also need appropriately strong outdoor banners.

Once you’re prepared, don’t shy away from other events for using outdoor trade show displays: community festivals, footraces, outdoor sporting events and even indoor trade shows where you are targeting the more outdoorsy demographic. Remember to have fun with it and let your product or service shine!



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