Trade Show Theft: 3 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself Pre-Show, At-Show and Post-Show

Detroit custom trade show displays

Trade show thieves blend in, and come in all professional shapes, types and forms. They won’t look like a thief!

Shhh! Trade show theft is often the white elephant in the room. Despite exhibitors’ best efforts, it can still exist, and no one wants to think about it, much less talk about it. As an exhibitor, you’ve probably asked some version of ttrade-show-white-elephanthis question:

“What’s security like on the trade show floor?”

Oh, it’s great! You’re comforted by the answer. Show organizers inform you that their security guards are on duty 24 hours a day, not to worry… However, what some don’t inform you of is that their show security isn’t a reliable means of protection for your booth space. Their presence is merely to act as a hindrance for thieves (hopefully). Their job isn’t to watch your merchandize or your booth space. So as your security fears are confirmed and you’re weighing the pros and cons of hiring your own show security, take a look at the list below, and maybe you can cut down the hassle by starting here instead.

No matter what kind of show you’re exhibiting at, it’s no doubt a professional one. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on all people anymore to be honest and credible. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst with these simple theft prevention tips.

1. Pre-Show Checklist

This one is pretty self-explanatory. While no one is going to lift your custom trade show booth display from under your nose, your iPad, laptop, or product is a different story. Do the work before the show, and create an inventory checklist. You want to focus on getting those hot leads, right! So who has the time or inclination to notice something small disappear? Not you, you’re busy, and if you don’t cross-reference your show inventory post-show you might never even know something went missing.

Here’s what you do: draw a rough sketch of your booth space, labeling every portable, visible, item. Everyone working the booth should study this schematic cutting down the possibility of someone not noticing something taken. When you’re all set up, take a photo of your booth. This snapshot will help you easily place everything you’ve put in your booth space. You also need to update a spreadsheet sorted by stock number or UPC code. This way after the show you can cross-reference your items making sure everything put out is safely packed back up.

Detroit Custom trade show display counter2. During the tradeshow

Your boothstaff arrives, and with them so do purses, phones, car keys; all kinds of easy targets for thieves. A custom locked counter not only makes a wonderful addition to your trade show booth display because of the extra counter space,  but it also provides added security for those small prized possessions. Not using your laptop or ipad at the moment? Instead of leaving them out, store them in a custom locked trade show display counter from GraphiColor Exhibits in Detroit. Always greet every booth visitor personally, and with a handshake. If you’re with a customer and someone walks into your booth make sure you take a second to make eye contact and wave to them. A thief wants to remain anonymous, but by acknowledging their presence you’ve put them in the spotlight, and chances are he or she is going to move onto to another booth – one where the exhibitors aren’t paying any attention to them.

3. Post-show reconLeave the trade show brochures at home

Google “tradeshow theft” and some horrifying stories pop up. $2.5 million dollars stolen in gold and jewelry, electronics, personal valuables, and the theft goes on and on with one common factor: a lot of the theft occurred during move out. I’m guilty of this one myself. I’m working a small show, and I run the first load out to my car while leaving the rest at the table; usually my purse is tucked underneath. Bad move.

Always have someone stay in your booth if you leave. Once you’ve packed up store everything in front and in clear sight. Don’t give someone an opportunity to slip behind the curtain or dig through a box in a darkened space. If you have to step away, label boxes incorrectly.

Who’s going to risk digging through a box that’s labeled “brochures” verse a box labeled “electronics”.

So there you have it. A solid plan for keeping trade show thieves away from and uninterested in your booth. Happy (and theft-free) Exhibiting!

 To Recap:

1. Pre-Show: create an inventory checklist, take a snapshot of your booth, and update a spreadsheet with product used to ensure nothing missing goes unnoticed.

2. At-Show: Use a custom locked counter for personal items or electronics not being used. Also, keep an eye and a hand on everyone who enters your booth space.

3. Post-Show: Don’t label boxes that attract would-be thieves, and always keep someone in the booth as you’re packing and loading up.

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