Expo West 2023 Tradeshow Planning

Expo West & What You’ll Need Checklist

Fairware has supported folks in the natural foods industry with its promotional products and sampling supplies for years. So, we’ve become quite familiar with how famous the Natural Products Expo West is as one of the world’s largest natural and organic products trade shows.

We’re proud to have worked with plant-based companies like Daiya Foods and Califia Farms and Organic Food Suppliers like Nature’s Path and Stonyfield Farm on their merch, displays, and sampling set-ups.

As always, we are here to inspire you with excellent merchandise, so we’re re-sharing our event planning checklist and insider tips and ideas that have proven invaluable to anyone planning to exhibit at the Expo West show.


Event Planning Checklist

  • Hold a pre-show booth audit and meeting. If you haven’t pulled out or reviewed your booth since your last trip to Expo West, make sure you give it the once-over to ensure that it’s in good working order and that you have what you need; also, confirm that it has any new brand elements you’ll need for this year. Meet with the team you’ll be bringing to the show, and make sure that everyone is briefed on the team’s expectations and the booth’s goals.
  • Book hotel rooms immediately – they sell out fast!
  • Get sizes for all team members working the show. This will speed things up when you order apparel. We suggest doing a small overrun of each size, so you have all sizes you need on hand and can use any extras as give-aways. Check out our size-calculator to get an idea of quantities. Also note, we have suppliers that offer apparel from x-small up to 3xl and 5xl.
  • Ensure the team has enough apparel for the show. People often miss this – it’s difficult to do laundry at a show. If you’re providing apparel, ensure your team has enough changes to make it through the show.
  • Pre-make kits for sampling areas. Make kits that contain all you’ll need to offer a range of product samples in one box and send them to each location ahead of time.
  • Find out the last advance shipping date for the show. You’ll need to have everything ready for transport on that day; if you miss that date, you’ll have to ship to your hotel or bring things in your personal luggage!
  • Keep your giveaways small. Just about everyone is travelling to this show, and they’ll all be picking up samples along the way. So, if you’re giving something away, ensure it will fit in carry-on luggage.
  • Do a post-show audit. Get together with your team to review what worked, what they liked, and what didn’t fly. Keep the list handy for future booth design, apparel, handouts, etc.


Merchandise and Promotional Product Tips

You want to impress folks who come by your booth and speak with your team members throughout the tradeshow. Here’s a list of products you’ll want to have near to keep your team prepared for a successful tradeshow.


Share Your Portfolio

Utilize QR codes printed on recycled paper or imprinted on your branded notebook, stickers, or garment tags that will drive them to a website custom to your target audience.

Alternatively, A portable USB drive can be a great way to pass your catalogue or media kit to potential clients. These thumb drives come in eco-friendly materials such as bamboo or wheat straw and can be preloaded to provide information to different target audiences – marketing, sales, etc.


To Tote Or Not To Tote

If you want to provide something folks will show off at the show and post-event, it’ll be worth investing in a genuinely great bag, as there will be a lot of competition at the event. It would help if you offered the bag everyone wants – a well-made, reputable brand and a classic look with subtle branding. Or, if you decide to go for a tote bag, go for a sturdy cotton tote or a lightweight compactable tote with great graphics and long straps for over-the-shoulder carrying.


Tradeshow ApronsImpress with Staff Apparel

Your team is repping your brand, so you want them to look and feel good. Create a mix of apparel — button-downs, polos, or tees—and let team members know if you want them to wear certain items on certain days. Have fun with it, and choose apparel that your consumers will want to wear. Subtle tone-on-tone imprints or branded graphic art are great options to be worn proudly during and post-event. If you prefer, you can avoid custom shirts by creating custom aprons and specifying a colour or style of shirt for staff to wear.


Natures Path Sampling Set

The Best Sampling Kits

If you’re going with sample cups or spoons, make sure to order well ahead of time to prepare for longer lead times – especially if you are customizing them. We’re a big fan of the bowls and spoons we created for Nature’s Path – they can be used at the show and brought home by the guests instead of using disposables. It’s a great way to elevate your sampling display.


Team Drinkware

Keep your team hydrated with custom drinkware. All staff in your booth can have the same bottle, with each team member writing their name on theirs to keep track of which bottle is theirs.


portable chargers for events

Keep Moving With Portable Chargers

Someone’s gadget is always running out of power — a laptop, a phone, an iPad, etc. If you do a pre-show sales and marketing meeting, gift each team member a portable charger. They range in price, and there are plenty of models to choose from.


Taking Notes On The Go

We still use paper, so consider padfolios or notebooks for everyone. These will offer a stable and portable writing surface as your team makes their rounds at the convention. Get one for each staff member for the outdoor sampling stations, the main booth, and the Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace.


Prepared With The Basics

You’ll always be right to go with everyday items. There is a reason why pens, Post-It notes, magnets, notebooks, and stickers are the top-selling product categories. We use these items every day – and they thus make an impactful logo impression. You might want to create an FSC-paper grocery-list notepad, feature your product on the first line of each page or include incentives to contact you post-event.


sampling station

Natural Fibre Cutting Boards or Serving Trays 

These make a great brand impression as people pick up samples. Keep them light and easy to clean with ChopValue boards or light and antimicrobial cork boards.


Small Budget Giveaways That Aren’t Brandfill

We’ve said it once, and we’ll repeat it. If your budget is small, we can help you find a product that will work for your giveaways without contributing to the landfill. Create limited giveaways for the first 20 guests or do a raffle for a single branded kit. And if your budget allows it, have 50 specially branded items or gift packages for those you want to impress – buyers, media, etc.


See paper post card

The Pre-show Teaser

Send a wildflower seed embedded postcard or a packet of organic vegetable seeds and a message to prompt people to visit your booth; let them know in advance that they should book a time for a visit or that there is an incentive or gift when they visit.


Utilize these tips for any conference or trade show. We love Expo West and love to see the creativity put into displays and assist in making the event fun and memorable for its guests. Keep this list handy, and have a great time at Expo West 2023!

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