trade show mishaps
I can understand your frustration. I can't offer much help on what might already have happened, but you can be assured many folks who try to market at trade shows or conferences have experienced the same type of disappointments.
For the future, here are some tips:
- SCHEDULING: when you schedule a show "presence", get the details directly from the trade show organizer (especiallly in this case, when you are sharing a booth or table top with another exhibitor). That is, get a specific schedule of events, times, etc. of what's going on when and where. Many shows and conferences have times when EVERYONE is in classes, and not going to see booths. Some have breaks when folks will visit booths. You need to know this so that your materials are on the location at the right time....and so you have someone there to "man" the booth when attendees might be present. You should also ask for the amount of attendees and other info...to determine if it's worth the costs. ALSO: beware of timing of delivery of materials (some larger shows require they arrive several days in advance). Always send materials via shipping methods that can be tracked...the last thing you want is that you sent them, and the hotel, etc. can't find them, but signed off on delivery. Do everything in way that can be tracked.
- SHARING THE BOOTH OR TABLE -- if you do make an arrangement to share a booth or table at a conference, you might be able to save costs by just shopping your materials, etc. to your partner, and share only the cost of their booth or table. Of course, if you do this, it's important that you are certain who you are sharing this with does the (above) -- in that, you are certain they will know the schedule and have folks that can man the table and will hand out your materials. But this would help in saving you costs on travel, accommodations, etc.
Hope this helps -- and sorry that this was a "disaster".
Dont' give up, though. Learn from your experience. It's good that you picked a place you felt was good to sell your product/service. But do know that your a not the only one that has had your experience.
Can you get the list of attendees from the conference organzier -- and do some promotions to the list?