Planning for a tradeshow can be burdensome at times. With travel, staff training, exhibit design, pre-show marketing and an endless list of show-related tasks, it can be difficult for event marketers to juggle everything at once. To make exhibiting as hassle-free as possible, exhibitors should familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of exhibit services.
Shipping an exhibit
Whether an event marketer has an existing tradeshow asset or has commissioned the building of a new exhibit, the need for shipping a display from the warehouse to the event venue quickly and without incident is extremely important. Before an exhibitor looks into freight carriers, they need to make sure that potential contractors specialize in moving tradeshow displays. This is important because freight carriers experienced in moving tradeshow displays will be more sensitive to the needs of an exhibitor.
Questions to ask freight providers:
- Whether they are licensed and insured, and if so, how much shipping insurance is available
- Ask about material handling and drayage fees
- How to track shipments
- If they offer specialized transport options, i.e. air-ride suspension, temperature-controlled transport, air-freight, etc.
- Time tables and estimated delivery times
- How their billable weight is calculated
- Ask providers if they offer installation and dismantling services
Ways to make shipping easier:
- Make sure crates and containers are in good condition
- Have up-to-date shipping and carrier labels
- Condense shipments as much as possible
- Weigh and measure exhibit assets to make sure pricing is accurate
- Color-coordinate crates/make them easily identifiable
Tradeshow display installation and dismantling
Once an exhibit has been shipped to its destination, it will need to be installed and dismantled. Some exhibitors choose to install and dismantle exhibits themselves, especially if they have a smaller modular or portable display. But if the exhibit is more complex, like an island exhibit, custom display or larger double-deck design, it is best to seek out professional installers for the job. Freight companies may offer an installation services, but if they don’t, outside contractors are a smart investment in resources.
Questions to ask an installation and dismantling contractor:
- Ask the exhibit provider if they have recommended installers
- Inquire about a contractor’s estimates in cost and labor times
- Ask if they can provide union rules and codes for their particular jurisdiction
- Make sure they understand the show regulations on exhibits and installation and dismantling
- Check with I&D contractor on early, regular and on-site pricing
Ways to make installation easier:
- Keep a detailed itemized inventory list
- Provide crew with set-up instructions and booth renderings
- Observe set-up and dismantling
- Save money with “straight time” scheduling
Storage and after-event care
After a successful tradeshow, it’s time to pack it up and head home. Often overlooked by exhibitors, storage and exhibit maintenance are vitally important pieces to the event marketing puzzle. Many exhibit houses provide their customers with storage and maintenance options, and some exhibitors are able to store their exhibits onsite. Depending on exhibit size, use and specialized needs, it may be best to contract a storage facility.
Questions to ask storage providers:
- Ask providers if they have climate-controlled facilities
- How long it will take for an exhibit to come off the shelf and be ready for shipment
- What their cubic foot billing is and whether they charge annually or month-to-month
- How they handle inspection of assets and liability insurance
- Whether they offer on-site repair services
Ways to make storage easier:
- Meet with storage provider in-person or over the phone two weeks in advance
- Keep track of when an exhibit has checked into or departed the storage warehouse
- Request exhibit previewing prior to shipment from storage warehouse
- Pick a local provider or one close to venues where you frequently exhibit
To make exhibiting easier, it is best to research and work with a tradeshow service vendor that offers shipping, installation/dismantling and storage services all under one roof. Having great service providers and building a long-lasting partnership with them will undoubtedly lead to less stressful exhibiting.
Eric Dyson is the Content Specialist at Nimlok, a division of Orbus Exhibit & Display Group.