Trade Show Logistics / Shipping Challenges – Rush “Ground” shipments

Trade Show Logistics / Shipping Challenges – Rush “Ground” shipments, Team Drivers, Trucking Teams, Moving Shipments rapidly from one show to another

*** What are your options for moving a crated trade show exhibit or stand across the United States in a very short time frame? ***

Air Shipping or rush Ground Shipping

Air shipping – very fast at very high cost – 2 – 3 times cost of “rush” ground (over the road) shipment
Size limited – Some crates will not fit on plane
Crates may take up so much of airplane cargo space that pricing is prohibitive and some crates cannot be laid on their side to fit in the plane without damaging the crate’s contents.

Ground “Rush” Shipping
Semi-Trucks or 18 wheelers may be driven by a team of drivers which allows a truck to move completely across the US in 3 days. Trucking safety rules (laws) require drivers to take a break of at least 30 minutes for every eight hours they drive, and driver’s must maintain a daily 11-hour limit on driving. By choosing a team of drivers for transport, you make it possible for a truck to be on the road for 22 out of 24 hours. As a result, a semi-trailer truck or “tractor trailer” can move much farther, much faster when driven by a team of two drivers.

Choosing a driving team for a trade show project:

Team should have trade show pick-up and delivery experience
Team must be willing to communicate directly with you as customer for your piece of mind and to help you coordinate the logistics of the move – if you need to move your freight this quickly, chances are you will also need to help the truck get into the dock for Outload and into the next dock for Inload
Team should be familiar with routing to avoid bad weather areas (snow / ice)

Remember that with a really tight time frame between trade shows, there are four different variables to control:

1) Receiving your empty crates at your booth directly after the show for quickest pack-up
2) Moving your crates into the semi-trailer ahead of the “normal” move-out schedule
3) Movement of the loaded tractor trailer across the country in the shortest time frame
4) Movement of your crates into the next show without the “normal” delays inherent in the trade show freight move-in process

Work with show management early to determine:
1) Did trade show management put a plan in place to move trade show displays and product from one show to the other as part of a show to show caravan?

2) Did the general contractor put a plan in place to move trade show displays and product from one show to the other as part of a show to show caravan?

3) Communicate early and often with trade show management and the general contractor to let them know of the logistics challenge both during load out for the first show and load in for the next show

Twice, by my team raising concerns with trade show management and / or the general contractor, we actually became the organizers of the show to show caravan. Do not assume that show management or the general contractor knows of the scheduling problem prior to you bringing it to their attention. It may look like they should, but it is very possible that neither organization is aware of the logistical challenge created by the trade show schedule in your industry.

We were recently able to move an exhibit out of a major trade show in Las Vegas a day earlier than scheduled (approximately 5 hours after show close) and into Javitz Convention Center in NY, NY with 2.5 days transit time. In one day, we moved the freight into Javitz, installed the exhibit, and merchandised the exhibit in time for show open the next morning. It is fairly common for freight to be delayed at Javitz for 6 hours or more before movement into this convention center. This was completed in February, winter in much of the country that the truck crossed.

Completion of this project required many e-mails over a 2 month period (approximately 100) and multiple phone calls with show management, the general contractor and the logistics (shipping) company. In fact, in this case, GES logistics was not willing to handle the shipment because of the ultra-short timeline. However, our truck became the “caravan vehicle” for multiple shipments between shows, so we were able to share costs with multiple exhibitors, reducing transport costs. One of the exhibits was a custom 20’ x 20’ and another a custom 20’ x 30’. Both displays were ready for show open, after being dismantled 3000 miles from Manhattan, only 3.5 days earlier. Most importantly, in both cases neither exhibit could be transported by airplane, and both exhibitors reduced shipping costs by 66% or more.

About Exhibit and Display Consultants: EDC was founded in 2002, by Brett Lipeles, a former corporate trade show manager in the Fortune 1000 and partner at a trade show exhibit house and trade show display builder. EDC is a services and display provider for exhibitors who need “best in class” service at lower than average costs. If your company needs a team that will provide the best possible and least expensive “turn-key” solutions at the lowest possible costs, we are the marketing partner that you are seeking. Give us a call today for a free consultation – 401-273-5372 or

Trade Show Logistics – Dismantle Hours vs Driver Check-in vs Clean Floor Policy: How exhibit pack-up and dismantle scheduling are affected

There are three key parameters that affect the schedule for packing up your trade show display at the end of the show, these are:


1)      Dismantle Hours – hours that convention center is open for taking apart and packing your exhibit.

2)      Mandatory Driver Check-in time – time by which your truck driver must check in at the Marshaling Yard prior to picking-up your exhibit.

3)      Clean Floor Policy – mandatory time at which your bill of lading must be turned in and exhibit completely packed before the general contractor will fine you for being off the time target.


Dismantle Hours –

Often-times the temptation for exhibit dismantle is to schedule all dismantle during straight time hours for several reasons:

a)      By the morning after the show, your storage containers will be back at the booth.

b)      When hiring dismantle labor sources the hourly rate will decrease by 30-40% when comparing straight time to overtime.

c)      There is a certain level of exhaustion at the close of the show, and the time directly following the show provides the last chance to meet up with friends and prospects before these key contacts travel.


Dismantle Scheduling should be directly affected by Mandatory Driver Check-in Time and the Clean Floor Policy for the show.

Here’s Why:


Mandatory Driver Check-in Time

If your truck driver is required to check into the Marshalling Yard early in the dismantle schedule, such as 8:00 AM the morning following the show, you will start to pay for waiting time for that truck driver at some short interval following the driver’s check in.

For Instance, your shipper might give you 2 hours of wait time included with the cost of the shipment.  So:

Driver checks in at 8:00 AM.

Paid driver wait time begins at 10:00 AM.  Wait time is billed at $75 to $100 per hour.

You hand in bill of lading at 12:00 noon.

Your truck is called in to pick-up exhibit at 2:30.

You pay 4.5 hours of wait time in addition to other dismantle fees.


Clean Floor Policy

The general contractor (GC) and show management are under a time pressure to empty the conference center of all related show materials.  This time pressure varies from show to show, depending on the contract with show management, and the next scheduled event moving into the conference center.


This time pressure can be very intense.  And one of the ways that the GC gets exhibitors to comply is with the clean floor policy.  This policy states that after such and such an hour, the exhibitor will be fined a freight handling fee, if their exhibit is not completely packed up, and their bill of lading handed in at the GC service desk.  This fine is often 50% of the total freight handling bill, so whether you are a large or small exhibitor, this is a hefty fine!


There is often a second clause attached to the clean floor policy that states if the dismantle of the exhibit is not actively taking place by such and such a time, the GC will intervene and begin dismantle and pack-up of the exhibit.  The damage and disorganization that would be caused by such a course of events would be the equivalent of a hefty fine!


There is another variable to consider before scheduling exhibit dismantle: the labor minimum charge. The labor minimum charge is used to insure that it is worthwhile for a laborer to come to work that day.  For exhibit and dismantle labor in most cities, the minimum charge is 4 hours per laborer.  This is an important variable for two reasons: 1)  You may be able to work the job straight through and pay the same amount at overtime, as a job that takes 6-7 hours to complete with a 4 hour minimum at overtime and an additional 4 hour minimum at straight time.  2)  You may take longer to do the job with less men, but get an hour worked for each hour that is paid for by using each laborer for the full 4 hours.


Depending on the labor company that you use, you may be able to get labor without paying for the 4 hour minimum on your project.  This is particularly relevant if you have more men added to your project, once they have worked on a different project for the first part of the day.  Speak with the city manager from your labor supplier to discuss the details.

Trade Show Logistics – Scheduling Exhibit Install: Target Move-in vs Set-up Time

There are two critical aspects of your exhibit installation schedule that are easy to confuse:  Target Move-in – the time and date that your exhibit must arrive and be checked in at the show or marshalling yard, and Set-up Time – the time that you may begin working on your exhibit installation at a trade show.


The exhibitor service manual (ESM) doesn’t always mention both of these schedules.  Their are cases where the Move-in is specified clearly – a) trucks must check in by this time, b) at the marshalling yard at this address,  c) for booth numbers in this range or booths in this zone from the targeted move-in map.


There are also cases where the Move-in is not specified.  Trade Show Set-up days are specified, but there is no specific delivery schedule for your booth.  In this case, it is best to find out if your exhibit must arrive at a certain time and day in order to not incur any off-target penalty charges.  Off-target penalties are usually 50% of total freight handling charges, so these are very significant expenses.  In addition, off-target freight can be severely delayed from making it into the show hall, and thus, adversely affect your set-up schedule and labor costs.


Freight delivered or moved into the trade show hall before or after straight time hours also incurs a steep service fee to cover overtime freight handling costs.


Conversely, it is sometimes possible that a shipment can be checked into the marshalling yard a day early, placing your truck closer to the front of the line, positively affecting your set-up schedule.


Using the advanced warehouse often dictates that your freight will be moved into the trade show hall a day before any shipments that are sent directly to the hall are received.  If you have a complicated set-up or beginning set-up earlier will afford more straight time labor hours, the small cost of using the advanced warehouse can pay off handsomely in terms of reduced total project cost and piece of mind.


Set-up time – Beginning set-up time is often not clearly spelled out in the exhibitor service manual (ESM).  In the absence of a clearly specified set-up schedule, it is best to use your own judgment and the guidance of the general contractor (GC).


If you are attending a large show and want to begin setting up your exhibit the first day of the targeted move-in, you need to factor in a buffer between when your freight is delivered to the show, and when you will actually begin exhibit set-up.  This is because there may be 10-100 trucks waiting to be unloaded at the same time.  It is commonplace for a line of trucks to take 4 or more hours to unload, and the GC uses such a backlog to keep their staff busy on a consistent basis, since the fork lift drivers unloading the trucks are paid a 4 hour minimum whether they work 4 or less hours and there is a large quantity of freight to be moved through a small number of freight doors.


As mentioned before, using the advanced warehouse can help you to hedge your bet by delivering your freight before the line of trucks, and often a day earlier than direct shipments to the show.  Confirm with the GC that advanced freight will be delivered earlier to the hall if you have any doubts.  This is usually, but not always the case.


Finally, document all of your discussions with the GC and Show Management.  Save your “chats,” any e-mailed responses to your questions, and keep track of names, dates and times when you get information orally.  GCs are prone to make mistakes, and you need this contact data in order to get bills fixed during or after the show.  And if you are not getting the results that you need directly from the GC contact show management. Show management is often more determined to keep you satisfied than the GC.


Trade Show and Corporate Event Services

From helping to create your new exhibit, to working with you to run the new booth property at various trade show venues, to working with your team to develop your next corporate meeting or event, our staff will be there for you. We will work with your current suppliers or help you to choose new ones. And the results will be astounding!

Our staff members are experts at both the creative process and the negotiation and logistics procedures that are necessary for your needs!

Call us today to arrange for a consultation…..401-273-5372

Consider Trade Show

We have been working on a series of articles to help you reduce costs and reduce your hassles at your 2009 trade show venues. Economic pressures create new challenges around every corner, and we are working to provide suitable solutions.
Fuel costs have split in half since August, but shipping is still a major contributor to the line item costs of your trade show budget. When trying to reduce the costs of shipping consider Railroad Shipping or Shipping by Rail.
Shipping by rail is 20-30% less expensive than shipping by truck. This is because once your container is on the rail, it adds almost nothing to the costs of operating the rail.
Here is what you need to know to ship by rail:
Shipping by rail is now seemless. Containers are driven to your loading dock and your staff or exhibit house loads the container just as they would load the back of a semi. The container is put on a train and then taken off near its final destination. The container is then delivered to that warehouse or trade show venue.

Just say “No” to a request for signature

1) Observations from the field:
Recently, we observed the same mistake being made several times at the SEMA Show. For those of you who are unfamiliar, SEMA is an industry only trade show where all of the automotive manufacturers and the largest accessory manufacturers display their newest products and seek to create corporate image in the grandest of fashions. Anyone who is anyone in the automotive world is there from Bridgestone to Honda, Edelbrock to Ford.

As we were walking the show, looking for things that exhibitors could do better to control their trade show costs, we noticed one mistake being made over and over. The general contractor had their customer service people walking into exhibitor’s booths with the final bill for services looking for signatures. To the rest of your team manning the display, this seems harmless enough, but I was very surprised at how many unqualified staffers were only to happy to sign a bill that they did not have the skills or knowledge to confirm. For those of you who have read this e-zine or my book, you’ll recall that my staff and I find that in general the general contractor bill is off by 10%. Those of you who have negotiated with the general contractor before know how difficult it can be to get items in err removed from your bill. This difficulty is further complicated when one of your staffers innocently confirms all of the charges by signing this bill without any thought. Instruct your staffers to politely “Just Say No!”

Exhibitor Cost Saving Tip!
Make sure that the rest of the team staffing your trade show exhibit knows not to sign any of the show documentation unless you have reviewed it first. If you can’t memorize what the charges should be, carry a copy of your last bill(s) from this show, or a show where the same exhibit was used. This small piece of documentation will help you remember what the exhibit weighs, how much voltage is required to run it, and how many hours it should take for an electrician to power and light it. In addition, while it is not a certified weight ticket, the old bill will still help you to negotiate gross discrepancies in exhibit weight and ensuing freight handling charges off of the bill. While it may only help with these gross errors in exhibit weight, it is these large mistakes that will cost your company the most.

2) Professional Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s Handbook – We released the first version of this book in May and just released a slightly modified version in December. Feedback has been strong including an enthusiastic “Worth Reading” recommendation by Trade Show Executive Magazine in December 2006.

Based on reader feedback here are the most popular reasons for trade show professionals to purchase the book:

A) Use as a self-help tool for training staff to handle day-to-day trade show related responsibilities in the most cost effective manner.

And / Or

B) Senior marketing executives are using the ideas and concepts in the book as a vehicle for thinking outside the box when it comes to reducing their trade show costs and improving trade show marketing ROI without reducing the number of trade show venues, presentation level or marketing impact.

For more information about the Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s Handbook click on the following link

Trade Show Hanging Sign Tips and Tricks – Part 1

Introduction to hanging signs

Why choose a hanging sign for your trade show exhibit? A hanging sign is the best guarantee that your customers will spot your exhibit easily and not miss you at the show. Perhaps more important, prospects that have not been actively courted will be reminded of your company and encouraged to attend your exhibit by your presence and offerings.

Requirements for using a hanging sign
At most shows you are required to have an island or peninsula booth space in order to take advantage of the increased visibility and consequent marketing impact of a hanging sign.

Choosing sign size
In a peninsula booth – All hanging signs must be set back by at least 25% of the booth’s width dimension from the backside of the booth. In general, hanging signs and graphics will be permitted to a total length on each side of the exhibitor’s space that does not exceed 50% of the corresponding dimension of the booth. For example, in a 20’ wide booth the sign may not exceed 10’ in length and width.

Choosing a sign – Electrical vs mechanical
The simplest and least expensive sign to hang does not require electricity to light it or rotate the sign. However, rotating and lighting the sign makes it more visible. Thus the added cost of the rotating and lighting is worth it, provided you have the extra dollars to purchase these services in your budget.

Rotating direction – counter-clockwise
Single point hanging or multi-point – In general, a sign that is hung from a single point on the ceiling is less expensive to hang than a sign hung from multiple hang points. The machines used to attach the hanging signs to the ceiling of the convention center move relatively slowly. In many cases, the convention center’s ceilings are very high. Thus each additional hang point will add considerably to the costs of hanging the sign, and since you are paying for a piece of machinery, plus 2 or 3 man teams to hang the sign, you will notice the additional associated costs on the bill.

Sign weight – if your sign is heavy – usually more than 400 lbs. – you may be required to use a different crew for installation. Check your show’s exhibitor manual and associated show paperwork for exact instructions.

Hanging Sign Do’s and Don’ts
Purchase your own harness for the sign. This reduces your rental costs from the general contractor.

Deciding whether to rotate the sign
A rotating sign gets a lot more attention because we as predators are programmed to notice movement. Since most signs are not moving, a moving sign stands out in the air space above the exhibits, even within a sea of other hanging signs.

Lighting the sign
If you are rotating the sign, it will cost only a small amount to also light the sign. Lighting within the sign design will not cost much to integrate with the design. However, for this small increase in purchase cost the sign will become much more visible. In general, it is best to light the sign if you are going to rotate it also. If you aren’t going to rotate the sign, don’t bother to light it since the increased costs of running electricity to the sign will be too high to be offset by the increased visibility of the sign due to lighting.

At some shows, there is a fixed- flat rate cost for installation of 1000 watt spotlights installed by the trade show electrician. In this case, you may be able to light the sign from one direction by using one or more of these light fixtures. This cost is generally about $400 per light. If the direction that an attendee will view the sign from can be predicted by traffic patterns within the convention center or trade show hall, these lights may be used to effectively light the sign from one or more directions.

Additional costs of rotating the sign
To rotate your sign, you are required to purchase an additional circuit to power the rotating motor. In most convention centers, you are also required to pay for this circuit to be installed in the air. In most cases 1 to 2 hours of electrical labor plus a condor lift is required for installation of this circuit. And in some convention centers, your sign will be hung by the electricians. The electricians are better paid than the riggers, thus your bill increases if electricians are required to hang the sign. With the minimum costs and large incremental billing associated with the installation of the electrical circuit and then sign, if two different unions are required to complete the installation of the sign, it will cost more than if just one union is required.

Choose and purchase your own rotating motor to keep costs to a minimum
We recommend Dyna-Pac. These are American made motors, hand assembled in Salt Lake City UT. The company stands behind their products extremely well. In fact we once had a problem with one of their motors in Salt Lake City, and they supplied a technician to show site within 1 hour for the whole day, in order to fix the problem free of charge. Their current motors have a Reversible direction of rotation switch so you can rotate the sign clockwise or counter clockwise. If the sign has a message comprised of alphanumeric characters, rotate the sign counter-clockwise. That way the viewer will see the logo appear in the order in which English is read. On the other hand, if you were creating a sign from alphanumeric characters in a language read from right to left, you would choose to rotate the sign clockwise. Specify a motor that rotates the sign no more than once every 1 to 2 minutes.

Addendum to fire issue from March 2009
Cynthia Wilson, a reader, has made an addendum to the Fire Marshal and Codes issue earlier in March. When in Las Vegas, unsealed halogen bulbs are only banned from the Las Vegas Convention Center. Halogen bulbs are allowed at the Sands, Mandalay Bay and numerous smaller convention centers around Las Vegas. Thank you Cynthia for the correction!

Questions about this article? e-zine is written by Brett Lipeles, CEO of Exhibit & Display Consultants as a response to challenges encountered by exhibitors that are interviewed at recent shows. We now offer a “Pay only for Performance” plan where you pay only a percentage of the savings that our services provide. We save our customers an average of 30% at every show! Contact us today at 401-273-5372 or email us at for an exploratory consultation.

©2010, Exhibit & Display Consultants

Trade Show Hanging Sign Tips and Tricks – Part 2

Hanging Signs – What to know at the show?

Shipping the sign
Shipping to the show or advanced warehouse
Many of the larger shows require that the hanging signs are shipped to the advance warehouse so that they may be installed before exhibits are set-up or freight is moved into the hall.

Choosing the installation location
Most of the time, we hang signs in the center of the booth. However, if you allow for a more flexible location, you can often simplify the hanging by guiding the hanging sign crew to avoid objects hanging from the ceiling. It often simplifies the installation to specify that the hanging sign be hung near center but not exactly at center. This is because in many halls there is no pick point or hanging fixture directly in the center of your booth, but there may be such hardware nearby. To create dead center where there is no hardware requires multiple hang points be joined together. This procedure requires more time and more expense.

Choosing an overall height
Your exhibitor manual will specify a maximum height that the sign may be hung at. Be careful, sometimes the paperwork requires you to specify the height to the top of your sign, and sometimes the height to the bottom of your sign. Thus, you need to know the height of your sign. It is also a good idea to know the height of your hanging harness with and without the motor attached. This way if you are hanging in a hall with a low hanging ceiling, you know the point at which the ceiling is not high enough to hang the sign using your harness, or motor, or at all. In some cases, eliminating the foot that the motor takes up or adjusting or renting a shorter harness will allow you to hang the sign as planned.

Planning around the convention center
In the case where the ceiling height is marginal for the hang, you may find that structure, air conditioning and utilities pipes will interfere with the maximum height that the sign can be hung. If you suspect this is the case, call the operations manager at the convention center or ask the general contractor after specifying your show name and booth number. They should be able to advise you about the hanging space above your particular booth.

Planning around other exhibits
You want to choose a height that is most visible and creates the most effective aesthetic for your company. Remember that your booth is your corporate identity. Having the booth accurately reflect your corporate identity in all aspects is imperative. Remember, some signs look better hung close to the booth, and others farther away. Take into account visibility within the hall, which includes the location of other hanging signs and tall exhibit structures nearby, and the look of the trade show booth in conjunction with the hanging sign.

At the show
If you own your own motor
Mark the motor with your company name. Almost all of the rotating motors are Dyna-Pacs. They all look the same.
Be careful to specify that you have your own hanging sign rotating motor during the installation.
Be careful to get the motor back from the sign crew during the takedown.

Before installing, check the motor and any lighting attached to the sign for proper operation. It is much less expensive to fix these problems on the ground, than once this equipment is in the air.

8:00 AM or first thing – with all labor scheduling at the show, asking that the installation be done at 8:00 AM usually gives you a predictable result. This means that the labor and machine will be at your booth between 8 and 8:30 and you will have the sign installed within a reasonable proximity to your timeline.

If your installation begins at 1:00 PM, try to schedule the hanging of the sign at or near 1:00 PM or the following morning at 8:00 AM for most predictable results.

Go to the service desk when you first get into the hall to confirm hanging schedule and that the advanced orders were received and a hard card created for the crews required to hang the sign. If your sign is electrical, you may have to go to the electrical desk to check on the order for the “in the air” electrical circuit and to the general contractor’s desk or rigger’s desk to check on the crew that will hang the sign itself.

Straight time vs Overtime
The difference in cost between straight and overtime is usually
$200 or more dollars per hour. Essentially, you are paying the difference in cost for the labor that is used to hang the sign. Since the team is composed of 2-3 people, you are paying the straight or overtime rate times 2 or 3 depending on the size of the crew.

Scissor lift vs condor lift – how this equipment affects scheduling
If the hall is using scissor lifts to install the sign, it is considerably more difficult to hang the sign after the exhibit is installed, since the scissor lift moves straight up and down. Thus the hanging sign may have to be installed before the booth is installed. Driving a scissor lift across a carpeted booth, most often leaves a bulge in the carpet. This suggests another reason why you may want to hang your sign before you begin installation of your booth.

Condor lift – allow you to hang the sign at anytime during the exhibit installation. However, if there is a lot of freight in the hall and narrow aisles between booths, it may take an exceedingly long amount of time to get the condor to your location. This may affect scheduling the install and consequently avoiding overtime charges on the install.

Billing and pre-show planning
You are automatically billed for the dismantle at the rate of ½ of whatever the installation costs. Be diligent in planning for the hanging sign install, and schedule according to your plan. Be clear in your communication with the general contractor. If the installation is taking too long, make sure that the foreman knows so that you can have the bill adjusted. Remember, that for every ½ to 1 hour that the installation takes, you will be billed ½ hour on the dismantle for 2-3 men plus a lift or other machinery. Mistakes and inefficiency can cost you and your company a lot of money.

Questions about this article? e-zine is written by Brett Lipeles, CEO of Exhibit & Display Consultants as a response to challenges encountered by exhibitors that are interviewed at recent shows. We now offer a “Pay only for Performance” plan where you pay only a percentage of the savings that our services provide. We save our customers an average of 30% at every show! Contact us today at 401-273-5372 or email us at for an exploratory consultation.

©2010, Exhibit & Display Consultants

10 Key Areas to seek Largest Trade Show Cost Deductions

For the new year, I would like to show you the largest “extra” exhibitor costs that your business can easily eliminate. This article is taken directly from our experience as experts in trade show exhibit management.

Top 10 places to cut the fat from your exhibit program in 2010

1) Show paperwork
Typically, we have found that mistakes are made with the show paperwork. This is usually because the person filling out the paperwork is not a field person, and does not have time to make themselves into a paperwork expert for each and every show. They tend to fill out each upcoming set of show paperwork almost identically to a past shows paperwork. However, rules, including services and time frames change from venue to venue, so your paperwork strategy should change as well. On average these small mistakes cost you the customer 10% – 15% on services ordered.

2) GC Billing
Typically we find that there are 15% “mistakes” on the bill from the General Contractor. It takes a lot of knowledge to spot all of the mistakes and skill coupled with patience to negotiate with the general contractor and get everything corrected. Know what you ordered and agree to pay accordingly. Get any billing mistakes worked out at the show.

3) Shipping
We ship from point to point, not worrying about keeping exhibits in our home warehouse. We schedule carefully so that maintenance is planned around when those exhibits will be in our area. Exhibits are designed very modularly, so that we can even add to complicated exhibits without having the old pieces shipped back for integration with the new. By shipping point to point, we keep exhibits on the most efficient path between venues. This can potentially cut the costs of shipping by 50%.

We also use shipping by train for segments that do not require exact delivery and/or pick-up times (depending on venue). This is quite a bit less expensive (30-40%).

We fill in for our shipping companies with the thought work. We don’t assume that they know what they are doing. They are focused on 100s of shipments per day. We are focused on a few, and ultimately are responsible to our customers.

We often use shippers that provide shuttle runs within cities. A whole truck might cost $250-300 dollars as a shuttle run, and these companies are at the trade show venues every day. They know the freight handling staff and this eases issues with freight in and out and really limits wait times. This eliminates 50% of the cost of shipping.

4) Warehousing
We pick warehouses that are clean, efficient and low cost. We don’t rely on pull and prep at the warehouse. We manage the condition of the exhibit from the field except in circumstances where the warehouse comments on damage to the exhibit during shipping. We inventory condition, marketing collateral and supplies during takedown. This eliminates double handling and cost, and we find it to be every bit as reliable as pull and prep, but much less costly.

5) Project leadership
Get the best lead man in the field for each venue. Act as the hub for information, since you are the common element from show to show. Supply your lead men with as much information as possible so that they can hit the ground running and instruct your I & D crew on where specific items are and how to complete certain tasks. Your notes are very helpful for them. Experienced lead men work on 100 or more different exhibits a year. You focus on only a few. Help reinforce their memory with accurate and detailed notes sent to them or their employer a few days before the show.

6) Labor
Negotiate with your labor company to receive a rate at or below show rate. We work with a few companies so that no one company has the total pie. We make notes from show to show on who is good in the crew and who isn’t. We request that the good members are repeats at future venues. For both management and I & D familiarity leads to increased efficiency.

7) Cleaning
We stay during the show and do the cleaning ourselves. This eliminates cleaning costs and insures that we are in the booth first thing in the morning to get AV systems functioning, check that all electrical circuits and light bulbs are working, and that the booth is provisioned and ready for action.

8) Cost analyses for services and negotiation
We often perform cost analysis for services like AV and overhead lighting. Usually, you work with an independent AV house because you have a relationship with their staff. However, at many venues this increases your cost. The show designated AV supplier does not get charged any freight handling fees for the AV equipment. Those AV equipment deliveries are often whacked with a $300 minimum freight handling fee, so even if you are using just one monitor, you pay $300 to have it delivered.

9) Overhead lighting
Freight handling fees can be huge. That truss and the light fixtures can be very heavy. In fact with a small exhibit, the truss and lights can actually weigh more than the exhibit. This will double your freight handling costs for the show. However, at most venues, if you get your lighting package through the GC, you don’t pay any freight handling on the lights. In addition, the general contractor will often lock in a great price for rental, installation, power, and on/off charges. This eliminates unknowns and there are many with overhead or truss lighting.
Too many variables to control. You have a condor or two installing the truss. $500 per hour each You need a lift to come back and aim the lights. $500 per hour These large dollar line items add up quickly. In addition, you need the truss lighting to be installed before your exhibit so that there is room to assemble the exhibit. The general contractor has access to the room early. They can get the lighting installed the day before the freight comes into the hall, when they can work the quickest and it costs you the least amount of money.

We have used specialty AV suppliers for really advanced effects, but in general, everything that the typical exhibitor requires can be provided more efficiently and for less money by the general contractor.

10) Seek Constant Improvement – the game is always changing
We use our knowledge and experience all the time. We keep detailed notes and start working on improving the results at the next show during this show. We don’t assume that the results from this show can be gotten at the next show using the same strategy. The GCs change the rules. Your location changes. Your exhibit changes. Your needs change. We seek improvement and make changes to create this improvement. We always want to get the work done in the most efficient manner possible which insures the lowest possible costs. We work with the general contractor before the show to let them know what we need long in advance and find out what they need in order to keep our projects running efficiently. This keeps project costs down.

Why can’t your exhibit house provide these same savings?

1) They have a large building to pay for. They count on the storage of your exhibit to pay their fixed overhead.
2) If they are marking up services, the higher the initial bill, the higher the profit….No incentive for them to get costs reduced.
3) They aren’t focused on reducing costs. To implement these strategies requires very careful work and work done by a person or team with a lot of experience with trade show cost reduction strategies. Typically, the exhibit company member that completes each task either does not have the depth or the breadth of experience to maximize cost savings.

Questions about this article? e-zine is written by Brett Lipeles, CEO of Exhibit & Display Consultants as a response to challenges encountered by exhibitors that are interviewed at recent shows. We now offer a “Pay only for Performance” plan where you pay only a percentage of the savings that our services provide. We save our customers an average of 30% at every show! Contact us today at 401-273-5372 or email us at for an exploratory consultation.

©2010, Exhibit & Display Consultants

Professional Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s Handbook

The design of your exhibit booth with respect to both marketing impact and complexity of set-up is very important. It is a combination of these qualities that lead to increased ROI and reduced trade show related costs.

The labor and machinery involved for set-up, weight, ease of set-up and involvement of union sub-contractors during installation and dismantle, and volumetric efficiency when packing a truck and being stored are very important. Durability and maintainability are also important qualities that can greatly affect the long term costs of owning the exhibit booth.

We can be hired to work on your team as part of the request for proposal (RFP) and design review process. Here are a few of the ways we will help to save you time and money:

* We guide you to specify what is most important for your team in a way that your exhibit house or trade show display booth supplier will understand
* We interview all of the relevant parties in your organization to ascertain corporate goals and aesthetics prior to the design phase
* We ascertain what aspects of a design are practical in the field, so that you may guide exhibit booth design and construction
* We evaluate the designs for construction methods and materials that are durable and inexpensive to maintain

Maximize your ROI and overall satisfaction with your new trade show exhibit booth or display by purchasing a display that is efficient to run, transport, maintain and store.

Money Back Guarantee

The strategies, tips and techniques contained in the Professional Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s Handbook are powerful and proven– so much so that we offer you a complete Money Back Guarantee. Master what you’ve learned in the Professional Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s Handbook and you’ll slash your trade show costs by AT LEAST 30% – if not, your entire purchase price will be refunded.

The Money Back Guarantee (the “Guarantee”) covering the Professional Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s Handbook (the “Handbook”) applies to all Handbooks purchased directly from Exhibit & Display Consultants (“EDC”) and is subject to the following terms:

The buyer of a Handbook (the “Buyer”) is entitled to a full refund of the purchase price if he does not save at least 30% on his trade show costs after implementing the strategies, tips and techniques (collectively, the “Strategies”) contained in the Handbook. (The Strategies include: pre-show planning; show services scheduling; negotiation of shipping and storage rates; and the selection and supervision of installation labor.) The Guarantee applies only after the Buyer has implemented the Strategies on behalf of his company at a trade show.

If the Buyer requests a refund after implementing the Strategies, he will first present EDC with the following documentation:
1. The bills from the general contractor and the other contractors (e.g., companies providing project installation and dismantling; shipping companies; and/or storage companies).
2. A detailed crate inventory, including crate weights.
3. All exhibit set-up diagrams.

EDC will then review the documents submitted and will provide the Buyer with a free telephone consultation to discuss how the Strategies can be implemented successfully.

If, after the consultation with the Buyer, EDC, in its sole discretion, determines that the Buyer cannot save at least 30% by implementing the Strategies, then EDC will promptly refund the Buyer the full purchase price of the Handbook.