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Avoid These 5 Food/Beverage Trade Show Giveaways


Trade show food giveaways can be a hot (or cold) topic for some. Giving away food or drinks can be a popular way to attract crowds to your trade show table, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea. There are some things you definitely want to avoid when it comes to setting out food or beverages at your trade show table. There are five types of items that you would be wise to avoid.

1). Open-air food/baked goods: Donuts, cookies and other baked good items seem like they would appeal to a lot of attendees but adversely, most of the time they’re sitting out at your table on a platter without any cover. You could limit attendee interest because you’re only catering to those who may not be on be on a special diet or have any special food restrictions. Plus, letting these items sit out at your table can be unsanitary and cause them to become stale.

2). Alcohol: Some people use this as a closing tool at their booth whether it’s closing a sale or the presentation of a new product launch. Really, there’s little sense it in. It’s a risk, can get expensive and you’re probably limited to handing it out in the afternoon (otherwise you’re handing out alcohol at 10 a.m. during a trade show). Obviously, if you’re a company makes spirits or alcohol and you’re exhibiting at a beverage show of some sort, that’s a different story. But in most cases, offer bottled water or something a little less risky.

3). Branded wrapper items: While this might seem like a clever idea to promote your brand in a small way. It’s not a bad idea, but watch how much of your trade show budget you put into this specific giveaway item. Having your brand, logo or information printed on a wrapper for popcorn, granola bars or even bottled water is interesting, but where do those bottles and wrappers end up – the garbage. The branding effect is temporary and potentially minimal. Consider putting your money into something a little more substantial as a giveaway item.

4). Don’t do homemade: Your grandma might have the best oatmeal cookie recipe, but trade shows aren’t the place to be showing off any culinary skills. Some people feel that it’s a unique way to connect with attendees or can be a conversation starter, but just like the open-air or baked goods advice, you don’t know people’s food allergies and it also makes you look kind of cheap.

5). Anything greasy or with a strong smell: There are some foods you can attempt to use that have good, strong smells to attract attendees, but you don’t want to overwhelm everyone. You’re catering to the whole crowd of the show, hopefully. So avoid anything on at your table (like pizza) that could leave grease stains on table covers or any paperwork or that might make you or your staffers hands greasy when trying to shake hands and reach out to attendees. And don’t drive them away with the smell of any kind of food.