Thousands of people, hundreds of exhibits, and several special events. Trade show exhibition halls are incredibly busy places. That’s great news for exhibitors, but with so many people gathered together in the same place, exhibit security should never be ignored. How can you ensure your exhibit, products, and sensitive company information stay safe and secure throughout your next event?
1. Don’t Assume Exhibition Security Guarantee Safety
Most event organizers hire event security services to ensure attendees have the proper credentials and that every person in the hall is authorized to be there. Security professionals aren’t responsible for the safety of exhibits and equipment. It’s entirely up to exhibitors to safeguard their own booths, products, and items such as digital displays and A/V equipment.
Don’t assume that just because you see trade show security officials in the area, you’re protected from theft. Anyone in charge of the booth is also in charge of security. Make sure all members of your staff understand that part of their role is being vigilant to ensure the booth and its equipment stay secure.
2. Keep Valuable Items Under Lock and Key
Portable items that are part of your exhibit and personal possessions are at risk for theft. Staff should only bring what they need to the booth each day. Encourage them to store other valuable items, such as jewelry and digital equipment, in hotel safes. The fewer high-value items there are on show at the booth, the better.
Items that do commonly make it to the booth and should be securely stowed include:
- Purses and wallets
- Laptops and tablets
- Swag and giveaways
- Company information, such as manuals, price lists, and any customer or lead details
During the day, the best way to keep any item safe is to make sure it’s locked away when not in use. After hours, remove these items from the trade show display. It’s safest to take them with you to your hotel room and bring them back the next day.
3. Control Access
The fewer people who have access to valuable items, the fewer opportunities there are for those items to get into the wrong hands. It may be more convenient to give all booth staff free access, but it’s safer to limit this to just one or two people.
4. Mount Digital Display Equipment Securely
It only takes a few seconds for someone to slip a tablet in a bag or backpack and walk away. If you’re using portable digital items for display purposes, make sure they’re securely locked to their display stands. Use cables and mounts that have locking features, so you can display digital items without risk of losing them.
5. Don’t Advertise Your Valuable Items
One easy way to prevent theft is to misdirect any would-be thieves. Besides hiding valuable items from view, consider mislabeling boxes that contain high-value items. Opportunistic thieves are much more likely to check a box labeled “computer equipment” than “brochures.”
6. Use Your Exhibit’s Lockable Storage (But Don’t Rely on It 100%)
Many custom and event rental exhibits have lockable storage options that are great for storing expensive items during the day. It’s tempting to store larger equipment items in your trade show booth overnight, but that’s not a good idea, as standardized keys can typically open these compartments.
To prevent the loss of expensive items, anything stored in your booth overnight should be the kinds of items that aren’t desirable to thieves. For instance, large or heavy items that can’t be carried are typically safe to store in your exhibit overnight.
7. Make Sure Digital Information Stays Secure
Security isn’t just about making sure items don’t go missing. The security of your digital information—and that of your customers and leads—is also paramount. Keep your company’s digital information safe by using laptops and tablets that are equipped only with the bare minimum of software. The software staff uses for information and demonstration purposes is all that should be installed on these devices.
Under any circumstances, don’t store any sensitive company information on laptops and tablets that come to trade shows. If you do have to bring sensitive information with you, store it on a flash drive, and keep that drive with you at all times—preferably on a lanyard or other wearable item that you can keep physically attached to you. This goes for the personal information of customers and leads as well.
8. Stay Organized to Improve Security
Keeping your booth well organized can help keep your valuables secure. It’s much harder for opportunistic thieves to steal from your booth if you’re alert and know where everything should be.
Simple organization tips include:
- Keep the booth tidy and free of clutter – This makes it easier to keep an eye on the things that need protecting.
- Never leave the exhibit unattended during the day – Preferably there should be at least two people at the booth at all times. If necessary, stagger breaks to ensure this.
- Keep a list of all valuable items and information, and check it off at the end of each exhibition day to make sure everything is safe and accounted for.
BONUS: Security Beyond the Exhibition Hall
Theft can happen anywhere outside the exhibition hall, too, so it’s important to be security-minded throughout the duration of an event. This is especially important if you’re in a large, busy city such as New York or Las Vegas, where theft may be a greater risk.
- Before the event, check for travel alerts at your destination, so you can take any necessary precautions.
- Once at the hotel, ask the concierge or desk clerk about area security and if there are nearby neighborhoods or streets that are best avoided.
- Store cash and high-value items in the hotel safe, rather than in your room safe.
- Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door if you’re leaving items in your room in the evening. This may help discourage anyone from entering while you’re gone.
Stay Safe and Secure, and Enjoy the Show!
Whether exhibiting or attending, everyone wants to have productive, worry-free experiences when they go to trade shows and other industry events. Unfortunately, there is the occasional person who uses these events as covers for theft. Much of trade show security comes down to the common sense that kicks in in a bustling environment. Go one step further by creating a security plan from these tips to ensure you, your team, and your trade show display have a worry-free experience!