Apps that are Lifesavers at a Trade Show

FBD2 - Download these apps before your next trade show
Photo courtesy of Flickr

Your mobile device can be the “backup” to your “backup plan” & help you to save time and make better decisions.  Here are some of our favorite apps and why they’ll be a great resource when you travel to your next show.

Sometimes, getting to the Expo can be half the battle. Fortunately, search apps like Kayak & SkyScanner Flights can help you with last minute travel snafus.  Encourage your coworkers to use Just Landed to instantly let you know when their flight has arrived.  (Don’t forget about your favorite airline’s app- it can help to confirm details, speed up check-in, access your boarding pass & look for upgrades!)

If you shipped literature to the show at the last minute, knowing where your parcels are is priceless.  The FedEx, UPS and USPS apps are comprehensive, save your preferences, and bring instant peace of mind.  (Some freight carriers have tracking apps too!  [For tracking your entire trade show display shipped in on pallets].)

While on the show floor, check to see if show management or their contractors have an app.  Show apps are great for quickly accessing maps of exhibits, viewing daily schedules and connecting with other attendees.  Sometimes using the show contractor’s app can save you from walking across the whole expo hall to get help from the service desk.  (Save your energy for setting up your trade show booth!)

Having printed copies of your receipts, order forms & installation instructions goes a long way towards avoiding complications & misunderstandings.  But having an electronic copy to instantly share with show management, vendors & co-workers is even better.  PDFExpert, Dropbox & iBooks are all fantastic options for storing, organizing, accessing & sending your important documents.  With Dropbox, your files are stored in the “cloud” so even if you lose your phone & paper copies, it is still possible to gain access via a desktop computer or borrowed device.

Need to edit or create a document on the fly?  Look no further than Google Drive & Genius Scan.  Google Drive is great for editing text & spreadsheets, and Genius Scan turns your phone’s camera into a full-fledged scanner & PDF creator (perfect for documents that need your signature!)

If you’re traveling to an exhibition in another country, having a local translator is obviously best.  However, in a pinch, iTranslate is a fantastic tool that allows both parties to speak into the app and see/hear the translation in their native language.

You’re in a strange city & want to take a client out to dinner, but don’t know where to go?  Of course there’s an app for that, and it’s called “Yelp!”  Once you pick the perfect spot, make a lightning-fast reservation with OpenTable.  Both apps allow you to leave a review of your experience, so other business travelers will know what to expect.

While digesting your meal, take a moment to save the details to Concur or TimeSheeter for easy tracking of your expenses.  These flexible apps allow you to save information on meals, mileage and hours, all with the ability to easily export the data when you get home.

For anything else a “road warrior” might need in an unfamiliar town, check out AroundMe.  This app uses the GPS in your phone to find the pharmacy, gas station, ATM, coffee shop, parking lot, supermarket, taxi, etc., nearest to your current location.  One of the fastest & easiest ways to get accurate information on the businesses closest to you-Don’t leave home without it!

If all else fails, there’s Evernote.  There are too many features to list, but the big ones are:

  • Taking notes-it’s the perfect place to help you remember useful websites & important details
  • Making “To-Do Lists”
  • Uploading documents & photos
  • All notes you enter, documents & photos become searchable for text; you can easily find whatever you’re looking for with just a few taps.
  • With options for all operating systems, desktop computers & web/cloud access, you’ll never be without the information you need.

Most of the apps mentioned here are free and available for Android and iOS.  Hopefully, these apps will take a little bit of the stress out of your next trade show appearance and make you more productive!

Tell us about your favorite apps in the comment section, below!

8 Tips for Successful Global Exhibiting

By Lisa Shackelford

Exhibiting at an international trade show is a highly effective way to enter foreign markets. While the experience can be rewarding, attending international events can also be costly and challenging. Below are some tips to keep in mind while planning an international trade show appearance.

  • Either hire an interpreter or staff your booth with employees who can sell your products and services in the local language if necessary. In Europe, English is the accepted language of business, so an interpreter is not necessary. However, in other regions, such as Latin America, someone must be present who speaks the local language. If you are speaking English, use simple words and refrain from using jargon, slang or buzzwords to avoid confusion.
  • Use a translator who knows both the local culture and American culture when creating printed materials to avoid any translation mishaps. When Pepsi translated their slogan “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” for the Chinese market, they angered many Chinese consumers. The literal translation meant “Pepsi Bring Your Ancestors Back from the Grave”.
  • Consider how potential foreign clients will perceive the colors you are using. For example, white is a color of mourning in Japan, but in Western culture is associated with peace and purity.
  • Be aware of numbers that may be considered unlucky or have a religious meaning in the local culture. For instance, in China, the number 4 symbolizes death, and the number 9 symbolizes longevity.
  • Plan for an ample amount of time to obtain the appropriate travel documentation. Obtaining a passport can take as long as eight to ten weeks. In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain a visa, which is a much lengthier process than obtaining a passport.
  • Book travel accommodations as soon as possible. International shows draw large crowds and designated show hotels fill very quickly. Since the amount of international flights available daily is very limited, booking ahead of time increases the chance of reserving a decent seat at a decent price.
  • Schedule time into your trade show plan to account for any possible shipping delays, such as items being held up at customs. Work with a logistics company that specializes in international trade show shipping.
  • Understand the rules of negotiation. In many cultures, socializing is considered essential to the negotiating process.  For instance, in Brazil, negotiating is a slow process and impatience is seen as a sign of weakness. Brazilians expect long-term commitments from their business partners, so relationship building is crucial. Be prepared to socialize more with potential clients than you would at domestic events.
  • Bring the correct international adapters for any electrical plug you will be using.  Make sure the adapters that you bring can withstand the voltage necessary to power the display lights, monitors, etc.
  • Become knowledgeable of the business etiquette in the host country.  In France, shaking hands is an expected greeting, but in Japan, bodily contact in public is avoided. Know whether to address clients by titles or by name and what is considered appropriate attire. In Germany, business dress is very conservative and people should be addressed by their full, correct title. Learn what body language may be perceived as offensive. For example, in Mexico, the American OK sign can be considered an obscene gesture.

Exhibiting at an international trade show is an excellent way to enter new markets and build global relationships with potential clients. A combination of careful planning and cultural sensitivity is the key to a successful experience when exhibiting globally.

Lisa Shackelford is the Marketing Coordinator at FB Displays & Designs, Inc. 

Works Cited

Todd, Brian. “EXHIBITOR Magazine – Article: International: Four Steps to Foreign Exhibiting, December 2011.” EXHIBITOR Magazine – Article: International: Four Steps to Foreign Exhibiting, December 2011. EXHIBITOR Magazine, Dec. 2011. Web. 30 July 2012. <;.