As the owner of a trade show business, you will have the opportunity to work with a number of different industries. Services you provide include finding space for the trade show, organizing the events during the show conference dates and promoting the show within the industry. A trade show business owner facilitates contracts with hotels, convention centers and trade show attendees. Consider all the variables when learning how to start a trade show business.

Things You Will Need
  • Trade show software

  • Industry contacts

  • Conference dates

  • Liability insurance

Step 1.

Focus on an industry that could use the services of a trade show organizer. Many newer industries, such as social networking sites, electronic medical records companies and home-based business owner groups, have not been served extensively by industry trade associations that put together trade shows regularly.

Step 2.

Invest in trade show software programs that allow you to initiate contracts, monitor registration and manage budgets and inventory. Companies such as the Seattle Software Corporation develop software for the industry, such as the program Show Go, which provides all the elements of trade show organizational tools you need. It offers you a free demo before purchase.

Step 3.

Initiate a contract with a hotel or convention center for the days your show will be in operation. Most conventions centers book at least 1 year in advance. Hotels often require minimum room occupancy before they will rent their exhibit halls for a show. Include food and beverage requests to get the most leverage in your hotel negotiations. Read every line of the contract to prepare for fees such as Internet charges, electrical hookups, microphones and moving services.

Step 4.

Purchase trade show liability insurance to cover the days of the event. Look for a specialist, such as CSI Entertainment Insurance, that can help you discern the proper coverage for your show. It can deliver the correct amount of coverage for exhibitors, attendees and equipment, as well as show-cancellation coverage.

Step 5.

Promote the trade show through industry organizations and businesses that could utilize the promotional opportunities available through the type of audience you will attract. Consider purchasing an industry database for mass mailings. Companies such as US Data Corporation and Directories USA sell industry-specific databases.


Bring in a big speaker as an added bonus to draw vendors and visitors to the show. Most trade shows offer seminars and visiting speakers at various times throughout the show. A celebrity or top industry expert can help to justify the cost of a booth at your show.


Develop relationships with vendors that your exhibitors need for a successful show. By vetting local vendors, you may be able to head off problems that exhibitors may have that end up being blamed on you. Recommend only those vendors that will take care of your exhibitors with quality work and fair prices.