From PostgreSQL wiki
PostgreSQL Booth Preparation Checklist
You! The booth organizer must commit to being available, and preferably present, for the entire event. It will be your job to keep track of everything associated with the booth. This can take an additional 2-3 days of your time outside the actual event. The organizer will also need e-mail, address, office, fax and cell phone numbers which can be distributed publicly as the contact for the booth, and may be required to sign legally binding paperwork.
The event organizers should provide you with a timeline for booth space requests & let you know what information they need. Make sure you fill out forms on time, and keep copies for yourself. If you miss a form, you can end up without a booth. Depending on the booth, tax forms and other paperwork may be required as well.
The conference organizers should also send you (or make available on their website) the following information:
- size of your booth (this will help you plan which displays are appropriate for the space)
- number of tables & chairs provided/allowed
- location of power & network drops
- times you can access the event hall outside of event hours for setup/teardown
See Booth Volunteers. You'll need to recruit these a few weeks ahead.
PostgreSQL in North America, and in Europe, has a fair amount of the stuff on this checklist available for shipping to volunteers who plan to run a booth. Shipping can take 2-3 weeks, and we might be out of some things, so ask early. The place to ask for the stuff is on the |pgsql-advocacy mailing list.
You need one or more flyers or brochures which extol the virtues of PostgreSQL and explain it to newcomers. Make sure to think of this well ahead; designing takes a while, and last-minute color xeroxing is a very expensive way of printing. Ideally, these materials will be tailored to the expected audience of the show; technical details for geeky conferences and business buzzwords for "suit" conferences. Don't be afraid to call for help on pgsql-advocacy to design this stuff.
Generally, we like to have for each PostgreSQL booth:
- cheap 1-sided flyer for everyone and their brothers to take (such as one on the latest release features or other news)
- more expensive glossy piece to hand to people who are genuinely interested (such as the 4-page Business Advantage brochure)
- the PostgreSQL Business Folders for really serious people.
Other flyers that are good to have on hand include:
- "talking points" of PostgreSQL vs other databases
- what's new in the latest version
- list of PostgreSQL-related talks at the conference (you can make one of these with a highlighter & the conference schedule)
- list of upcoming PostgreSQL-related events
- business cards/flyers for the local PUG, if there is one
Quantities required vary a great deal with the nature of the content and the expected traffic. Straight up trade shows tend to be flyer-greedy and need 100 flyers per 1000 expected attendees, whereas advanced technical conferences usually aren't that interested in paper and you can get by with less than half as much. Do be aware that color printing is both expensive and slow, so you should arrange a sponsor and allow plenty of time do to color brochures.
"Swag" means stuff to give away at trade shows. There are two kinds of swag we use at PostgreSQL booths; items which are given away free, and items which we solicit a donation for. Generally you want one kind of free swag, and 2-3 different items for donation.
It's customary for us to have some kind of free giveaway stuff for our booth. Most commonly, these are cheap plastic buttons, which we buy for $150/1000, and impose on everyone and try to get them to wear. These free items build general goodwill.
If you want to get your own free swag, think of some other item which costs less than $0.30 apiece which you can give away. Last LWE, BayLUG -- who meet in a Chinese restaurant -- gave away fortune cookies with their URL inside. Other groups have used cheap buttons, stickers and pens. Again, giveaway items will take time and money to produce so you'll need some sponsorship and lead time before your first conference.
Cotton tote bags printed with the PostgreSQL logo have been very popular as well. Again, ask on the list as there may be some left over from previous conferences.
Up until recently, our primary swag item was PostgreSQL live CDs. We've cut back on these recently as they are somewhat expensive, and rather environmentally destructive, and have a very limited lifespan. However, they may still be appropriate for some conferences, particularly if you can burn them on the spot. See the LiveCD project for disk images.
In order to pay for the costs of setting up the booth, we usually have some items you can offer in return for a donation to the appropriate PostgreSQL Non-Profit. If you can, have several items at different price/donation levels: PostgreSQL North America has buttons (any amount, even $0.25), T-shirts ($20), Books ($40+) and plushy elephants ($30+). Sometimes you can get sponsors to donate these items if they are co-branded; the books we use are donated by the publishers. However, don't get carried away with this idea; donation/sale items are a sideline of your booth and not its main purpose.
Note that many conferences (depending on country/state) will require you to have a reseller permit for your booth. Make sure to find out early and apply for the permit; fines for not having a permit can be up to $1000 and cause you to be banned from that conference permanently. Also, bring a jar or cash box for the money you receive! Putting it in your pocket can lead to awkward questions. Finally, print out some blank receipt forms you can fill in if asked.
At a minimum, your booth should have at least one large banner with the name of your project and its logo. On the cheap, copy shops can do a 3' x 6' vinyl banner for as little as $100 and a week's notice. If your conference is in North America, you can request the PostgreSQL Pop-Up Display, which is a very professional self-supporting booth background sign, 8' square. This takes at least a week and costs $90 to ship, though, so plan ahead. The ultimate combination, in my opinion, is a pop-up for the back of the booth and a small banner (maybe 1' x 4') to be hung from the front of the booth table. Again, banners and pop-ups can require weeks of advance ordering if you don't want to pay a "rush" premium. Also, make sure that you have hooks, tacks, string and tape with you to hang the banners you have.
You'll want, pre-installed on some machine, some kind of eye-catching demonstration of PostgreSQL-related technology. Since PostgreSQL doesn't lend itself to eye-catching displays, don't be afraid to base the demo on some trivial use of your software or something tangential done by one of your volunteers or supporters or even a good slideshow. The important thing about the main demo is to stop people from across the hall. You'll also want to be able to interactively show more core features and do troubleshooting or Q&A with visitors to the booth, but this only happens after they stop. For example, at last LWE we had a PostGIS/Perl/GoogleMaps "mashup" as the main demo, but also had PostgreSQL 8.3 and pgAdmin3 with the TPCE database for more interactive show & tell. The demo should not require reliable Internet access, as this is extremely rare at shows.
If you're doing a demo, assemble and test your setup before the conference, in case there are missing parts or troubleshooting required. As much as possible of this equipment should be able to be off the table, so include long cables, and possibly an external keyboard and mouse (especially if you care about the laptop). Also bring locking cables so that you don't have to worry about leaving the equipment at the booth overnight.
Check out HowToBooth.
Folding Dolly, Boxes and Bags
Most venues will require you to "hand-carry" in your materials or pay through the nose for professional help. This means that your entire booth needs to break down into boxes and bags which can be carried by a regular-strength geek onto a standard escalator. Folding dollies, or wheeled luggage of a "carry-on" size are generally also allowed but full-size dollies seldom are.
All volunteers in a PostgreSQL booth should wear PostgreSQL shirts, ideally the same kind. If for some reason someone needs to wear a suit, they should wear PostgreSQL enamel pins. This makes your booth look much more professional and lets visitors know to whom to ask questions.
Many conference facilities are very drying, and soft drinks can be scarce or expensive at many trade shows. Get a box of small bottles of water for your volunteers.
Finally, don't forget to budget some money for necessary on-site expenses, including copies, shipping, cables, adapters and volunteer lunches. I generally find that about $100 to $150 is more than enough "just in case" money for the conference. Our standard practice is to have you use your own cash and for a PostgreSQL non-profit to reimburse you, so save those receipts.
Over the years, we've found that there are lots of items which we need to have on hand for various booths. Get a duffel bag and assemble this kit now (adjust for your situation) and you'll save yourself a lot of last-minute panic:
- General Supplies:
- Duct, masking, or painter's tape (painter's tape won't damage painted walls, and may be required at some conferences)
- Zip ties
- Tape gun with extra packing tape
- Spool of string
- Pens (whole box, they'll vanish)
- Several permanent markers
- Shower hooks (for banners)
- Couple of c-clamps or spring clamps
- Book/document stands, if available
- Envelopes for receipts
- Locking cash box (and keys!)
- Safety pins
- Snap-blade knife or utility (carpet) knife
- Multitool, or at least a couple of different screwdrivers
- Power/Networking/Computer Supplies:
- 2 or more extension cords and power strips
- Several medium-length CAT5 cables (minimum 10' [~3m])
- Mini-router or hub
- Some blank CDs
- USB thumbdrive
- Cable locks for computer equipment (and keys!)
- USB-PS2 adapter
- DVI-VGA adapters and Mac adapters