At any given trade show, you will see a wide variety of exhibitors that may or may not be able to help your business. The best thing to “expect” from an exhibitor is to at least start a potential relationship. Most good exhibitors will be standing in their booth ready to greet you and then they should start asking you questions. If they get right into selling their product before you have said anything, you might want to politely move on to the next one.
Things to not expect would be free stuff, custom samples, and taking equipment with you immediately. While many folks will have some samples to give out, you probably want to pay at least a couple of bucks for something you really want to work into your business. As for customer samples, many times people might be able to use your files, but remember there can be art prep needed, and a trade show is not a true production environment. Give the people that try the benefit of the doubt. You get what you pay for when it comes to samples.
Lastly, regarding the equipment, just because you might have purchased the equipment already or in advance, the exhibitor needs to be able to show it off to other potential customers to recoup their costs of attending the event.
—Aaron Montgomery, 2 Regular Guys, MontCo Consulting