We spend a ton of time with our customers supporting their use of iPads in the trade show booth. Over the years, we have seen it all and written several articles based on those experiences. You might call this one update tips for iPads at trade shows.

iPads are everywhere at trade shows these days. Whether it’s as a sales tool in sales reps hands, on a stand showing videos, or a embedded in elaborate booth structures, Trade Show Managers are definitely embracing the iPad to qualify leads and grab attention. Depending on where you are in the process of iPad deployment for your company, we recommend you check out Why companies deploy iPads? or the Guide to Launching iPads; two free ebooks that will get you primed and ready.

In the past month, Jesse, Justin, and I have attended trade shows in five different industries from Industrial Water to Food Safety to Financial Services. We were amazed to see many individual sales reps with iPads and had the opportunity to see a lot of iPads in the booths. Unfortunately, many sales reps and booths were simply not prepared to use them to their maximum potential.

If you are planning on rolling them out at your next event, don’t make these 5 iPad trade show mistakes.

1. Basic iPad Trade Show Training for Everyone in the Booth

Seems obvious, but I was amazed at how many people in the booths didn’t know how to perform simple tasks like “Slide to Unlock”, Double-Tap to multi-task, or even open apps! Don’t assume everyone has played with smart phones and iPads. iOS7 has made a lot of these functions easier, but not everyone is used to yet, adding another layer of complication.

Your customers are watching and judging.

2. Don’t Count on Conference WiFi

With 1000’s of smart phones, iPads, and computers all hitting the conference WiFi service, your web apps and Safari-based web pages are USELESS when you can’t access them. We saw one company at ASIS in Chicago with 12 iPads in the booth simply throw in the towel and give up because they had no access (Of course, we swooped and saved the day).

If you are planning on using the internet – get a WiFi card or 3G account for each iPad. It’s not that expensive and will save hours of grief. By that we mean, useless iPads.

3. Turn Off Time Lock

One great use of iPads at trade shows is showing videos. The problem we see so often is iPads sitting on pedestals with the screen lock on. Leaving booth staff to constantly go around to each iPad and re-enter the lock code. I can’t recommend enough suspending security lock during the trade show.

Here’s How to Do It

ipad trade show 1

ipad trade show 2

4. Don’t Forget Power

The iPad has ok battery life and will easily run videos for the hours of a Trade Show, but don’t forget to bring power strips and chargers. Justin saw one booth with 5 iPads mounted into the display, but they were all dead. Bummer!

We like to keep our trade show iPads in a separate bag that contains chargers, cleaners, and soft cases – one for each. Heck you might even label them – iPad trade show #1,#2 etc.

5. Keep iPads Clean

The iPad can truly be a great selling tool. I’ve seen customers happily tapping through product catalogs with FatStax sending themselves emails on many occasions. This will not happen if the screens are smudged with finger prints. It looks gross and scares people from touching the screen.

The bottom line is keep it clean with a lens cloth. We recommend arming your booth staff with at least two cloths each. They are cheap. Losing customers is expensive!

Got a question about our Trade Show sales tips for iPads? Let us know in the comments section below.