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.

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