June 17, 2013

You Have Your Booth Space, but have you read your Exhibitor Manual? Pre-Show Effort

Category: Articles — admin @ 7:37 pm

You have researched the show where you want to exhibit. You have purchased a space and started to do your pre-show marketing. But, there is more to know than just your location.
You will receive a show manual from the show management. This manual contains everything you need to know about the show rules and regulations as well as the union rules. This will become your bible, read it carefully.
Check all the dead lines and target dates. Knowing this can save you money and headaches. Also see what the rules are for the sizes and shapes of exhibits in your area. There are different rules for inline booths, peninsulas or end cap booths and island booths. What are the rules for hanging signs?
Each show is different. One show might allow 22 foot high exhibits. Another may only allow 16 foot high. Some shows have rules where the sides of an inline booth must be only 4 foot high. Another show wants the whole booth to be 8 feet high.
Shipping your exhibit into a show on the wrong date can incur penalties. The manual will give you the date and time that shipments will be accepted for your booth number. Being early or being late can be a problem. Make sure your carrier is aware of the target dates. Also make sure your carrier is aware of the move out dates as well. Most important, hire a carrier that is familiar with trade shows and make all your arraignments well in advance for the inbound and out bound shipping. If the exhibit and materials are going to another show or coming back to you, make sure all the bills of lading are correct.
Ordering show services also has dead lines listed in the manual. Items and services you might need such as electric, electrical labor, carpet, rental furniture, waste baskets, booth cleaning, plumbing, internet access, union labor to install the exhibit and dismantle it at the end of the show, etc., should all be ordered before the posted dead lines to insure a discount. After the dead lines or ordering on the show floor, will increase the fees substantially.
Many items you can take care of your self. Read the manual carefully. For example, you must order electric for the both space, but you might be able to hook up lights yourself if the show and convention center rules permit it. Rules do vary from place to place. Also, if you own your own carpet, you still might have to order labor to install it. Know before you go. This way there will be no misunderstandings.
Also, keep rental items to a minimum or eliminate them all together. Bringing your own waste baskets and power strips for example can save you a bit of money. Renting those two items for a three day show would cost on average about three times as much as if you bought them, or purchased them locally.
Understand drayage or material handling. You will be charged for any material that comes into the convention center by its weight. There are minimums imposed on each shipment, so combine your shipments. If you are shipping brochures and giveaways make sure they go together with your exhibit. Most convention centers charge a 100lbs minimum for material handling. So a 1lbs FedEx envelope sent to your booth will be charged at 100lbs. Try to have items like that sent to your hotel. Even if your hotel charges a fee, it would be much lower.
If you need union labor to set up and dismantle your exhibit, you do not always have to hire the convention center’s contractor. Hiring their labor might have a four hour minimum. There are authorized labor companies that install and dismantle exhibits at the same or at a little higher rate per hour, but do not have the four hour rule. So if your exhibit only takes two hours to install, you can save a lot of money. A list of these authorized I&D (Installation & Dismantle) companies can be obtained from the convention center. You will have to fill out an EAC (exhibitor authorized contractor) form for this. It is in your manual.
READ the manual. Learn what you can do yourself and what you can’t. If you choose to hire an exhibit house to handle everything, ask what their mark up is on ordering show services and rental items. Any honest exhibit house will tell you. Mark ups can run from 25% to 100%. That’s right; some exhibit houses charge what ever the traffic will bear. For example, Drayage is very costly at most shows, if you pay for it yourself, you can save a lot as opposed to having the exhibit house doing it. Any item you can pre-pay on your credit card at a show will save you money. Also look out for hidden extra items such as carpet tape, visqueen (plastic sheet that protects the carpet during installation) cleaning supplies, extension cords, etc.
Yes these items are used, but make sure you are being charged your fair share. Don’t pay the price of a whole case of Windex when only one bottle was used.

If you do want your exhibit house to pay for part or everything that is required, you will also have to fill out a Third Party Billing Form. It is in your manual.
Become familiar with all the forms in the manual. Note that on some items such as carpeting, they list the higher priced ones first. Read the whole form before making any decisions.
The show manual is your friend. Yes it can be very thick, but it holds the clues to saving money and having a smooth show.

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