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Trade Show Glossary of Key Terms

My goal has always been to contribute to the overall value of the trade show industry by sharing my insights and expertise. We now have many new people joining the industry in various capacities. This glossary of key terms related to trade shows, exhibitions, and event planning is designed to give newcomers an easy reference of the terms they’ll use regularly.

Analytics Glossary Related to Trade Shows

Conversion Rate: The percentage of attendees who take a desired action, such as making a purchase or providing contact information.

Cost per Lead (CPL): The cost associated with acquiring a potential customer's contact information at a trade show.

KPI: KPI stands for key performance indicator. KPIs are the goals set against which you measure the success of your trade show or marketing effort. They must be quantifiable goals measured in terms of performance over a specified time period.

Metrics and Analytics: The use of data and analytics to measure the success of a trade show participation in terms of ROI, lead generation, and other key performance indicators.

Post-Show Follow-Up: The activities undertaken by exhibitors after a trade show to maintain and nurture relationships with leads and contacts.

Qualifying Leads: The process of determining which leads are most likely to become customers based on specific criteria.

ROI Analysis: The evaluation of the return on investment (ROI) for a specific marketing or business initiative.

Sales Pipeline: A visual representation of the stages a potential customer goes through before making a purchase, from initial contact to conversion.

Glossary of Terms Related to Trade Show Exhibitions

Aisle: The walkway between rows of exhibitor booths within the trade show venue.

Attendee: A person who visits a trade show to explore products and services, have an opportunity to network, and gain industry insights.

Badge: A credential or identification worn by attendees, exhibitors, and staff that permits access to the trade show and associated events; in some instances, a badge can allow exhibitors to quickly collect data.

Booth: A designated area within a trade show where a company or organization showcases its products or services.

Booth Staff: Individuals who are representing a company at their booth and are responsible for engaging with attendees, answering questions, and promoting products or services.

Breakout Session: A smaller, focused session within a trade show that allows for more in-depth discussions or workshops on specific topics.

Drapes/Backdrop: Fabric or materials used to decorate and define the background of an exhibitor's booth.

Exhibitor: An individual or company participating in a trade show by showcasing their products or services.

Floor Plan: A layout or map of the trade show venue indicating the location of exhibitor booths, entrances, and key features.

Keynote Speaker: A prominent speaker who delivers a featured presentation at a trade show, often addressing industry trends, innovations, or motivational topics.

Lead Generation: The process of identifying and attracting potential customers or clients who may be interested in a company's products or services.

Lead Retrieval: Technology or systems used to collect and manage contact information from attendees who visit an exhibitor's booth.

Networking: The process of establishing and maintaining relationships with other industry professionals, potential clients, and partners.

Promotional Items: Branded giveaways or merchandise used by exhibitors to promote their brands and attract visitors to their booths.

Sponsorship: Financial support provided by companies to promote their brands at a trade show, often in exchange for visibility and marketing opportunities.

Swag: Promotional merchandise or freebies given away by exhibitors, to attract attention and promote their brands.

Trade Show: An event where companies from a specific industry gather, displaying their products and services to potential buyers, partners, and the public.

Trade Show Organizer: The entity responsible for planning, coordinating, and managing the overall trade show event.

Supply Chain Glossary Terms Relevant to Trade Shows and Event Management

Demand Forecasting: The process of estimating future customer demand for a product to ensure sufficient stock levels.

Inventory Management: The supervision and control of inventory levels to ensure optimal stock levels while minimizing carrying costs.

Just-in-Time (JIT): A production strategy where goods are produced or acquired exactly when they are needed in the production process.

Lead Time: The time it takes from placing an order to receiving the goods, including processing, production, and transportation time.

Procurement: The process of acquiring goods and services for a business, often involving negotiations with suppliers.

Supply Chain Management (SCM): The management of the entire supply chain process, from product development to the delivery of the final product to the end consumer.

Supply Chain Visibility: The ability to track and monitor products as they move through the supply chain in real time.

Vendor Management: The process of overseeing and managing relationships with suppliers and vendors within the supply chain.

Shipping and Logistics Terms Often Used in Trade Shows and Event Management

Bill of Lading (BOL): A document that serves as a receipt for goods shipped, as well as a contract between the shipper and the carrier.

Customs Broker: A professional who assists exhibitors with customs documentation and compliance when shipping products internationally for a trade show.

Customs Clearance: The process of obtaining approval from customs authorities to import or export goods, including the required documentation.

Drayage: The transportation of exhibit materials from the loading dock to the booth space within the trade show venue.

Freight Forwarder: A company or individual assisting with the transportation and coordination of shipments, often managing various aspects of logistics.

Logistics Coordinator: A professional responsible for coordinating and managing the logistical aspects of shipping, including transportation and distribution.

Manifest: A detailed list of goods or items included in a shipment, providing information about each item.

Packing List: A document that details the contents of a shipment, including item descriptions, quantities, and packaging information.

Shipping Carrier: A company, such as a shipping company, a courier service, or a freight carrier, that provides transportation services for goods.

Warehousing: The storage of goods in a warehouse, often a part of the supply chain logistics.


As you can see, there are so many terms that get tossed about in event planning and management, trade show exhibition planning, and event engagement. My hope is that you find this glossary helpful as you begin planning for your next event.


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