No matter what service supplier you are working with, start your communication early and document your discussions with the supplier. The larger the supplier, the more documentation to keep and have confirmed in writing. The General Contractor (GC) can be surprisingly helpful. However, the general contractor is run like a large corporation, so it takes a lot of time to find the correct contact, get answers, get processes rolling, and get the service and value that you need. However, if you work with them in advance you will be surprised at the level and unique services available for you at the show. By asking the proper questions, this preparation and planning by your company and coordination with the general contractor will allow you to save considerably. Secondly, review your costs often and create post show reports. Part of the reason to create these reports is you handle the costs more. As you review costs and other exhibit related metrics more you become more familiar with those numbers. This will help you to home in on unacceptable cost increases and marketing results more efficiently. Then, when you spot one of these increases come into play you can reference the old numbers. A quick example: Recently, I was putting together the paperwork for a hanging sign. The estimate from the general contractor came back as twice the previous years costs. Part of this was due to an increased minimum charge for the labor. The labor was union, so there was no way to negotiate this rate, or cut the minimum billing amount down. However, a large part for the bill was a charge for equipment. Knowing the industry, and thinking about the billing process, I realized that the equipment charge was not a non-negotiable charge, and after 20 years in the industry, I also knew that the new cost of hanging the sign was about twice the going rate. In addition, I knew that I had paid half this new cost the previous year and thus had a much lower budget constraint than what was called for in the proposal. So I scanned the previous years bill and sent it to one of the manager's of this service supplier and also mentioned that our budget only included the previous years amount plus 10% for supplies, unforeseens and "normal" cost increases. This contractor completely eliminated the cost of the equipment - about $900. We ended-up paying about $300 more than the previous year due to the rigging unions new contract, but saved almost $1000 between the eliminated equipment rental cost and small supplies costs that were also thrown in. The lesson: You don't know what you will save, but asking and using your head will definitely save you a lot in the long term. Also, always remember that every supplier that you deal with is really an organization made up of a group of people. These people all have the same needs....so when you mention that your budget does not allow for a new cost that is double last years, these people can relate. We are all under the same budgetary pressures, good year or bad. And last, be honest. Don't push for that which you don't need. Look for a win-win situation.... Good value for your company and the opportunity for them as a supplier to make money also. Successful negotiating is never a one-sided affair. For more cost saving tips, please go to our new facebook page regularly at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Exhibit-and-Display-Consultants/294925500020?v=wall. We are currently downloading past articles and adding new tips almost every day.