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The Multi-Function of Show Documentation


Thanks all for joining me once again for another lesson in the spectacular world that is tradeshows!

This month – I am going to cover a subject that may seem obvious at face value; however, it can be problematic if you’re not careful, and very useful and multifunctional if done properly: Documenting your exhibit through video, photography and other forms of media.

Before I go any further, I cannot stress enough the paramount importance of following the rules of each individual show and show producer when it comes to photography and recording devices. Some shows may be fairly lenient with its documentation guidelines while some may be very strict to prevent exhibitors from taking advantage of the experience to spy on competitors, or those not exhibiting, notorious for suitcasing shows. Suitcasing refers to those companies or persons who go to shows as attendees but “work the aisles” from their suitcase (briefcase) — soliciting business from other attendees and exhibitors.

I have worked closely with show producers over the years and have great respect for them and their lofty objectives. There is always good reason; a method to the madness to even the most seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations. So – I thank you in advance for proceeding with caution and care with your recording devices at all tradeshows and exhibitions.

Rule of thumb: Don’t point your camera into other exhibitors’ booths even if they’re not your competitor. It’s simply bad form. This lesson is about documenting YOUR company’s exhibit experience!

In previous columns, I have expressed the critical nature of staying in tune with the marketplace at large and reflecting as much in order to maintain credibility and subsequent relevance and sustainability as a viable competitor in your respective industry. As it lends itself in this lesson, this means knowing and utilizing the different recording/photography devices to properly document your tradeshow experience. There are a myriad of such machinery on the market, and I advise you to do your due diligence and research to find what best fits your needs and budget. There are the very hi-tech and cutting-edge devices, such as GoPros and other user-friendly handheld, action or easily mounted cameras, but let’s face it, in this day and age if you have even the most basic smart phone and/or tablet device, you are often good to go.

Following are some functions of documentation:

Social media: instant gratification documentation

Social media at shows is nothing new. As a matter of fact, without it, it is almost as if you did not exhibit at all. Think of the proverbial tree falling in the forest. You need to make some noise. Documentation through photography and video is the best way to do this. Text (copy) is not enough. We live in an exceedingly visual world. I advise any post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., be accompanied by a photo and video whenever the option is available; this includes blogs. The great thing is most of the devices have instant posting capabilities. Take a great photo of an intrigued attendee at your booth, upload or post, and voila – you have shared your experience with your entire network and peripheral – likely hundreds, or maybe even thousands of people. Plus, those posts don’t disappear. Your exhibit has officially been documented. YouTube is a great way to share and save videos. Record an interview with your top sales person during expo hours capturing that booth buzz in the background or a testimonial from an attendee. Promo videos integrated with your social media strategy continue the momentum started at the tradeshow, build upon the excitement generated at the show and maximize your reach to your audience.

Booth staff training and other insights

If you keep a mounted camera in your booth, especially with a running time stamp, it can prove to be invaluable for post-show internal use. It does not need to be on for the entire show as I am not in any way advising spying on your staff in that manner. Make them aware of the camera(s) and let them know that they are there specifically to provide insight into peak hours of the show and for future booth staff training as well as for future planning of booth demos and presentations. A live camera can offer a vantage point of how to better layout your booth floor plan – display, furnishings and messaging – for upcoming shows. It can also show which hours perhaps you need to more heavily staff the booth.

Stills still have value

With social media and everything in the world becoming so live and accessible, it is easy to forget the value of still photography. Photographs allow us to capture and access extraordinary fleeting emotion that can get lost in video. Those Christmas morning moments when something is revealed to someone for the first time cannot be rivaled. Such pictures can be captured in your tradeshow booth when an attendee is experiencing your product or service for the first time. Also, exhibitor promo photo booths can provide such impromptu moments. Such “pix” can be used for future company literature, websites, PowerPoints and in-booth slideshows. Be sure to designate a member of your booth staff to carry the responsibility of taking such shots.


  • Find the recording devices – still & video – that are most commensurate with your needs
  • Designate a member of your booth staff to be in charge of documentation
  • Use photos and video for social media, future marketing and advertising initiatives and insight for future shows

About Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher
Linda Musgrove is founder and president of TradeShow Teacher, an award-winning tradeshow management and marketing firm. Linda, along with her team of specialists, focuses on assisting companies increase tradeshow ROI through a comprehensive results driven formula. Author of “The Complete Idiots Guide to Tradeshows,” published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing, Linda is also a regular, expert contributor to several industry publications and sites. Learn more at http://www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the FREE monthly TradeShow Tactics newsletter. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsteacher or email to info@tradeshowteacher.com

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