Mackenzie McLeod
Posted by Mackenzie McLeodFebruary 19, 2020 6:15 AM

October might seem like ages away at this point, but know that this is no time to rest on your laurels if you’re a marketer in the fresh produce industry! You’ve probably felt overwhelmed ahead of Fresh Summit in the past, thanks to having to work overtime to get ready in time, but take it from us: you shouldn’t have to feel so stressed about this show every year. And rest assured that we speak from experience: try being a fly on the wall in our office in August and September as we navigate the “tradeshow chaos” on behalf of the dozens of fresh produce brands we serve! 


That’s why in 2020, we’ve resolved not to wait until summer to get on top of planning for Fresh Summit, and you shouldn’t either! If you want to feel less stressed—and more prepared and organized earlier than ever before—try following this handy 9-month checklist:


9 Month PMA Fresh Summit Checklist


  • Apply for a Booth - First things first: if you haven’t already applied for a booth, get that application submitted right here ASAP!
  • Get Your Booth Assignment—Keep an eye out for booth assignments, which will become available in late-January or early-February. 
  • Consider a Site Visit—If your company is planning a large party or customer dinner at Fresh Summit, now is the time to start planning a site visit to Dallas to scout out restaurant and party venues that fit your needs. While you’re in town, pay us a visit!
  • Begin Building a New Website—If having a new website live by mid-October is a goal for you in 2020, now is the time to get that project started. Websites typically take 6 to 9 months to create and launch from start to finish, so don’t wait until this summer to think about it!



  • Check the PMA Website for Important Dates—This spring, PMA is likely to start updating their exhibitor resources with more information and deadlines that you’ll need to know to be successful. Check back here in March!
  • Start Researching Booth Vendors—Building a brand new booth for 2020? We recommend getting the research process started now so that you can breathe a sigh of relief (and maybe even take a vacation!) in August knowing that your booth will be ready for the show.
  • Establish Goals and Strategies—March is a good time to outline exactly what you’d like to get out of Fresh Summit in 2020 in order to consider it a successful show. Write down a few high-level goals for the show and then begin outlining how your booth, any planned sponsorships, and any potential sales meetings or dinners contribute to those goals.  
  • Finalize Your Budget—Based on your goals for the show, you should start working on a detailed budget for Fresh Summit to guide you from here on out. You likely identified an overall tradeshow budget at the end of 2019, but how detailed is it? Start thinking about what exactly you want to spend on the booth, sponsorships, travel, apparel, etc.
  • Book Venue Buy-outs for Large Parties—If you’re throwing a party of more than 50 people in 2020, 7+ months out is an ideal time to make sure your venue is locked in for the big day!



  • Secure Hotel Rooms—The exact date PMA will release hotel blocks is still unknown, but you can expect this to become available in April. Special rates will most likely be available at the Omni, the Sheraton and the Hilton Anatole for this year’s show, but if you’re looking for more hotel options, check out our list of favorites!
  • Revitalize Your Booth—If you’re planning for a new booth in 2020, start working on the details for this in April, especially if you have a display larger than 10x20. For smaller 10x10 booths, you have a little more time, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get your vision in motion 6 months out.
  • Book Your Ad Placements—Do you have your trade advertising placements secured for the month of October? If not, make sure to get those booked sooner rather than later, as the most desired dates fill up fast!



  • Decide If You Will Have Major Press Announcements to Make Before the Show—Getting exposure in the trade press is on many fresh produce companies’  wish lists leading up to Fresh Summit, but think before purchasing: do you have anything worthy of a major announcement? Now is the time to strategize and determine how you can get the right exposure before the show and make sure your leadership team is on board.
  • Take Inventory of Existing Materials—May is a good time to go through your existing booth materials, collateral and swag to see what’s left over from 2019, as well as determine what you need to order more of. Perhaps it’s time to redo sell sheets or create new giveaways. If so, start making a list (complete with deadlines) of what you need to order in the coming months.



  • Start Ordering Vendor Services—The Exhibitor Services Kit will likely become available in June so you can start ordering any carpet, electric, furniture, etc. needed for the show. 
  • Get Any New Booth Designs in Motion—If you’re making any changes to your booth for 2020 that involve new graphics, get these updates in motion no later than June. This gives you time to thoughtfully make updates or changes so that you aren’t coming down to the wire on these important extras!



  • Solidify Catering Plans (if Applicable)—If you’re planning to serve food or drink in your booth during Fresh Summit 2020, start working on your plan of execution for this. Are you going to bring in local talent to cook, or do you plan to work with the hotel kitchen?
  • Order New Swag—Go ahead and start getting new swag items or giveaways ordered. The more custom the item, the longer your production time will likely be, so don’t put it off until September!



  • Make Travel Arrangements—Typically, deadlines for making changes to hotel rooms and names occur in late August, so now is the time to solidify who your travel team is and start finalizing their rooms and flights.
  • Create a Detailed Schedule for the Show—Each year, we create a show schedule in a Google Sheet that details where everyone on the travel team will be at any given time. This is one of our secret weapons to tradeshow organization and success —create your own version and you’ll swear by it just like us!
  • Make Restaurant Reservations—We all know how quickly restaurants can fill up when a major tradeshow like Fresh Summit is in town. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until October to get your dinner reservations locked down—start by late August!



  • Ensure all Booth Workers are Registered—Deadlines for exhibitor badges and mailing typically happen in mid-September, so make sure you have your entire team registered (and if you want your badges mailed, request them now).
  • Confirm all Vendor Orders and Shipping Dates—Now is the time to go through your list of vendors, catering and shipping information to make sure every single detail and date is accounted for! We recommend building a binder containing all show paperwork and details to serve as your Fresh Summit “Bible.” Some recommended tabs include: Deadlines, Show Schedule, GES Orders, Catering, Booth Details, Budget, Hotel Confirmations, and Shipment Tracking Details.
  • Create a “Leads List”—By September, the attendee list will likely be available for you to comb through and identify priority leads. Meet with your sales team ahead of time to create a plan of action.
  • Invite Customers and Colleagues to Dinner—Don’t just assume your customers are going to have open schedules and wait until a few days before the show to reach out. If there’s someone you want to guarantee face-time with, invite them to dinner before the end of September to get that date locked down!
  • Create a Social Media Plan—Sponsorships are great for helping your company have a strong presence at the event, but don’t forget that social media offers a way to have serious visibility during the show. In fact, you should use social media to your advantage before, during AND after the event. Look up the event hashtag and meet with your marketing team to determine how social media will support your tradeshow goals. Check out these other tips on how to utilize social media at Fresh Summit.



    • Verify Booth Shipment and Make Calls to All Vendors—When October 1 rolls around, make sure you know exactly where your booth or display is, and start calling all your vendors to confirm all shipments and deadlines are met.
    • Host a Team Meeting—A week out from the show, gather all travel staff and review the calendar, goals, and expectations of every single team member attending. Each person should know exactly what their role is in contributing to a successful show.


Start picturing it now: your organizational skills for Fresh Summit in 2020 will be lauded as exceptional, and you can waltz onto that show floor in Dallas (still refreshed from that August vacation, of course) feeling like this was a piece of cake compared to years past.


Make sure to check back in on this list between now and the showwe will update this page as deadlines and additional information becomes available. 


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Topics: Fresh Produce Industry, Tradeshows & Events, Fresh Summit 2020, 2020

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