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How to Cut Your Tradeshow Costs — Part 3

How to Cut Your Tradeshow Costs — Part 3

In this article, we share seven tips to save money during and after the tradeshow. To see money-saving tips on your tradeshow design and pre-show planning see Part 1 and Part 2 in the series.

1. Ship Smaller Packages to Your Hotel

You’re going to forget something. It happens. However, shipping small packages to the show facility can increase your drayage bill dramatically. Instead, ship those packages to your hotel and carry the items onto the trade show floor.

While there may be a small hotel service fee, it will ultimately be less expensive than shipping it directly to the show. Plus, it’s less likely to get lost. If you’ve ever tried to track down a small package at a convention center, you know the frustration of wandering through a dock with hundreds of crates, cases, and packages.

2. Communicate with Your EAC

You may be familiar with tradeshow labor––labor provided by the show contractor to help set up your booth––but you may not be familiar with Exhibit Appointed Contractors, or EAC’s. These are independent companies that have the right to provide labor services within a convention center.

Working with an EAC offers multiple benefits. While you may not save a lot of money in a one-off situation, you will save money over time by contracting with an EAC. They are invested in keeping your business and make accommodations that you won’t get from the regular labor pool, because they’re goal is to keep you as a client for multiple shows.

An EAC encourages you to communicate with them before the show by sending them your setup instructions, photos, and other details. This allows them to plan, and planning always saves money. If you have a lasting relationship with an EAC, they will understand and remember how your booth is assembled each year, and correct problems quickly and effectively, ultimately speeding up the process and saving you hours of labor. For more information about EAC’s, contact

3. Hire a Supervisor from Your Exhibit House

If your exhibit house offers to send a supervisor to the show for a fee, you may want to consider it. They are familiar with the assembly of the booth, saving you time and labor costs during setup and dismantle. If there is a problem, that person is the direct path to a solution, whether locally or from the exhibit house.

It may not make sense for a smaller inline, but it’s usually a good idea for larger, more complex booths, especially the first time the exhibit is assembled on the show site. Given a choice, would you rather supervise the assembly of your booth or devote your time to all the other responsibilities necessary to ensuring your show is a success?

4. Watch Setup and Dismantle Times

In most cases, there is a four-hour minimum for tradeshow labor. Pay attention to that minimum. Exhibitors get skittish about overtime (and should). However, there are times when you can complete I&D with just an hour of overtime. That overtime will be less expensive than scheduling labor for four hours the next day.

Minimums also matter when scheduling how many laborers you need in the a booth. Three workers working on straight time is less expensive than two workers working straight-time and overtime. While it’s not always an exact science, it should be a planned decision, not one that happens by chance.

5. Dismantle Supervision

It’s the end of the show, and you’re exhausted. The last thing you want to do is dismantle your booth. But having someone stay with the booth to oversee the dismantling can be critical.

That person can supervise the disassembly and monitor that the booth gets packed and labeled correctly. Even if it means one more night at a hotel or a couple more meals, that person is invaluable to ensuring your booth isn’t damaged and is ready for the next tradeshow.

The number one cause of damage isn’t assembly. It’s careless disassembly and packaging. In the chaos after the show, it’s not unusual for parts and pieces to get lost or stolen. Being there minimizes those surprises.

6. Pre-arrange Return Shipping

Exhibitors focus so much attention on getting their exhibit to the tradeshow they often forget to arrange return shipping. The last thing you need is the added stress of arranging freight after three exhausting days on the show floor.

In a desperate situation like this, that exhibitor might turn to the show contractor and ask them to ship it, which is always significantly more expensive. If they forget to make those arrangements, the show contractor will have to force-ship their freight back to them. This can equal a down payment to a house––a massive hit to your bottom line. Always pre-arrange return shipping.

7. Store the Booth Locally

This applies to people with active tradeshow schedules in the same city. Rather than having the booth shipped back to the main office every time, look at having the booth stored locally in that city. It can be stored at a local or regional exhibit house, or with a transportation carrier, that can store the booth for a nominal fee.

In fact, the storage fees may be less than what you would have paid to ship the booth to and from the show each time. Check with your Exhibit Appointed Contractor. They often have suggestions on storage options in convention-centric cities like Orlando, Las Vegas, and Chicago.

Do you have questions about any of the cost-cutting suggestions, your trade show budget, or about trade shows in general? Let us know.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of the series to find out more cutting your trade show booth costs and Part 2 to learn about trade show planning!

Article Author:

Mel White

How to Cut Your Tradeshow Costs — Part 2

In Part 1, we reviewed seven techniques to save on your tradeshow marketing. In Part 2, we’ll cover twelve techniques to cut your costs through careful pre-show planning.

1. Graphics, Literature, Promotional Products & Shipping

The exhibit is the main attraction. Always will be. But there are other marketing and operational tasks to complete, such as literature, promotional products, and shipping. All of these, when done ahead of time, will save you a significant amount of money and lessen your anxiety.

We tend to work toward a deadline. What if we worked well in advance of a deadline? For example, your supplier may give you a timeline of 7-10 days, whether it’s a giveaway or printing your brochure. But, 7-10 days assumes everything goes according to plan. It won’t. Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan for ground shipping vs. overnight and assume they’ll be a glitch or two along the way. You’ll have the opportunity to see any mistakes and have them corrected early. As a bonus, you’ll sleep better the week before the show.

2. Early Bird Forms

This is the easiest way to save money at your next tradeshow. There is a reason these early bird forms exist––show contractors want you to complete them early, because the more information they have, the better they can prepare for the show.

Many exhibitors, however, still put off this task. While filling out these forms can be a painful exercise, it’s critical to submit them by the early bird deadlines. If you don’t have all the information you need or some information will be subject to change, that’s okay. You can make corrections later. By sending in these forms early, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

3. Pre-assemble and Inspect Your Exhibit

While you may not like the idea of having to assemble the booth twice, in your own shop and then again on the trade show floor, this trade show planning step is a great cost-cutting measure. When you know what to expect at the show in terms of assembly, you will save time and prevent any nasty surprises.

As any tradeshow veteran knows, when there’s an issue on the show floor, it’s a painful and expensive fix, and there are no cheap solutions. Whether it’s overnighting graphics or getting a spare part over the weekend, everything is going to be more costly––and stressful. Make sure everything is right before you ship your booth to the show. Having your booth only partially assembled on the day the show opens is worst than not arriving at all.

4. Advance Warehouse vs. Direct-to-Show

There are two main ways to ship your booth to a show: Advance Warehouse and Direct-to-Show. While Direct-to-Show shipping appears cheaper, shipping to the Advance Warehouse may actually save you money.

When you ship your booth to the Advance Warehouse––sometimes months ahead of time––you have less to worry about as you get closer to the show. When the show dates get closer, everything in the Advance Warehouse will move to the venue. Say you’re attending a show that takes place Monday through Wednesday. The setup for that showis likely to be on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you ship your booth to the Advance Warehouse, you’re exhibit will be ready for your crew to assemble Friday morning.

If you ship it Direct-to-Show, however, you may experience delays, and it’s difficult to predict and arrange your labor when you don’t know when your booth is going to arrive. In most cases, your freight driver is sitting in the marshalling area waiting to unload, which means you’re paying for that wait time. If that happens, your setup may move to Saturday or Sunday, meaning overtime vs. regular hours.

5. Hanging Sign to Advance Warehouse

If you have a hanging sign, ship it to the Advance Warehouse (even if you don’t ship your booth there). It’s always easier for the riggers to hang that sign above your assigned booth space when there’s no one on the show floor. But most importantly, they’re less likely to inflict damage to your sign and to your booth.

6. Avoid Special Handling Charges

The easier it is to get your freight from the trailer to your booth space, the fewer special handling charges you’ll see on your drayage bill. Avoid stacking things on top of one another or strapping items together. Loose components add up. They require more labor and effort, and the show contractor will recoup that time and effort on your bill, which can sometimes double or triple the charges.

If you do get a special handling charge, be sure to ask the general show contractor why those charges were added. You can then get a good idea of what to avoid next time. It may not always make sense to you, but it’s not about logic. It’s about saving your money.

7. Invest in Lead Retrieval Software

Whether you rent, purchase, or lease lead retrieval software depends on your show schedule and the sophistication of your lead management. Some exhibitors are only interested in collecting the most basic information: client name, contact information, show, and date. Others have a comprehensive list of questions they want answered and need the ability to email literature or follow-up directly from the show. Others have specific requirements for their CRM software and how it should be uploaded and managed.

If you want to collect detailed information on your leads, lead retrieval software is a good way to save time, money, and headaches when it comes to lead retrieval at the show. However, choose the lead retrieval package that makes the most sense for your situation. Don’t pay for more than you need. And don’t buy less than you need, whether it’s for one show or for your entire show schedule. Cheaper software can actually be more expensive in the long run.

8. Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning fees are one of the ridiculous charges at any tradeshow. It can cost hundreds of dollars simply to have someone vacuum your exhibit every morning. On the other hand, you can buy a $99 vacuum that can fit in your crate and ship with your booth, along with other necessary cleaning supplies. Make it a game with your exhibit staff. If everyone pitches in with the cleaning each day, the money you saved by not paying for vacuuming services can go toward a post-show celebration.

9. Purchase Your Monitor at the Show City

This is a great cost-saving idea. You may need a monitor in your booth, and with the prices of flat screen TVs plummeting, you can get a nice one from $300 to $600 dollars depending on the size.

Instead of paying to ship that monitor to the show, simply buy it at the show city––whether you’re in Las Vegas, Chicago, or Orlando. Then, to save the money on shipping the monitor back to your location, use it as a giveaway to encourage more booth traffic and collect more leads. Who doesn’t want to win a flatscreen TV?

10. Internet

Think hard about whether you really need to be connected to the Internet in your booth. Does it advance your trade show marketing program in any way? Or is it a distraction?

Internet charges on the show floor can be extremely high, and connectivity is often unreliable, making it a wasted investment anyway. If you’re using lead retrieval or mobile order writing software, consider solutions that have offline access.

11. Share Advertising

This may not apply to everyone, but it can be a huge cost savings. If you have strategic industry partners who are exhibiting at the same show and have similar customers but aren’t direct competitors, explore opportunities to cooperate with them on show advertising and co-hosted events.

Splitting these costs will allow you to expand your marketing and networking while saving money. Splitting bar tabs and meals with common customers goes a long way without having any impact on your sales process.

12. Rent a House

If you’re bringing a group of about six or more people to a show, renting a house near the convention center can be much more economical accommodation option than paying for individual hotel rooms. It also offers much more flexibility. Many exhibitors use the house they rented as a venue for networking events and parties during the show. It’s also a great excuse for combining a company retreat with the tradeshow.

Questions about any of the cost cutting suggestions Let us know. See Part 1 and Part 3 for more tips.

Article Author:

Mel White

Identifying Your Trade Show Kryptonite

X-Ray Vision

We shouldn’t but we do. We hope the next trade show attendee who walks in our booth is Superman. Not Superman Superman, but the sales equivalent of Superman. Faster to sign a contract than a speeding bullet. More powerful than the VP of Purchasing. Able to leap over objections in a single bound. We yearn for Superman (or Superwoman) to enter our trade show booth space.

Yet, we place kryptonite everywhere in sight so Superman veers away (no doubt into the arms of our evil nemesis — Super Savvy SalesPerson). What did we do wrong? Well, let’s eliminate the easy mistakes, the ones so obvious that his X-ray vision saw them three aisles over.

Frenchy Fry Me: Nothing says no-loving like a booth staffer hunched over lo mein, a cheeseburger, or chicken nuggets with honey mustard. And, yes, I did see you wipe your hands on your pants. Then there’s the smell….Kryptonite-TS

Five-Second Text: Baby-boomer, GenX, or millennial. Doesn’t matter. You can’t start a conversation if you never start a conversation. It gives new meaning to — “Hey buddy, my eyes are up here!”

The Quickie: Good choice. A vinyl graphic hanging on the pipe and drape. Perfect if you’re pitching hairball chews at the local cat show. Otherwise, it says, “I’m living in a van down by the river.”

The Berlin Wall: The banquet table is your best friend at a hobby or arts and crafts fair. Take the same approach at a trade show and expect to catch up on your texting and Facebook posts at the show.

I Don’t: Got there late. Left early. Spent most of the time flirting with the woman on the next aisle.

Concrete Cal: No flooring. Or padding. Or orders.Clowns

10 Clowns in a Car: How nice! The entire sales team is here. Except this isn’t a rave party, a tailgater, or a celebrity sighting. “No thanks. I’ll take the next less-crowded elevator.”

Maximus: “Just give me 5 minutes to find it. I know it’s here somewhere. I swear I just saw it. Here it is! Nope, that’s not it.”

Love Me Some Swag in the Booth: Selfie sticks, pens, water bottles, shopping bags, phone chargers, tech tools, lip gloss, exercise band, calculator, hand sanitizer. ‘Hey kids, Daddy went to a trade show.”

Mystery Date: “I’ll give you three guesses what my company does. Want a hint? Another hint? Starts with the letter G. See the display on the corner with the hanging sign. We do what they do.”

Turn Me On: Day 1. “Anybody know how to launch the video or turn on the tablet?” Day 2. “Did anyone charge the tablet or bring the thumb drive?” Day 3. “I don’t know. We think they’re broken.”

Don’t be the only person at the show not wearing an “S” (for sales superstar). Get rid of the exhibit krytonite and you’re guaranteed to attract a Superman (or two or three) to your booth.

Article Author:

Mel White
Classic Exhibits Inc.

What’s the Expiration Date of Your Trade Show Display?

Has Your Exhibit Passed Its Freshness Date? 

Trade show displays, like yogurt and milk, have expiration dates. While it may not be printed on the box, it’s not hard to spot one that’s starting to spoil. Here are 20 Clues it’s time to buy a new exhibit.

You Know It’s Starting to Smell When . . .

1. Graphics are attached with Velcro to a fabric backwall. While that may be OK for a FFA display at the county fair, it’s no longer acceptable at a professional trade show.

2. I&D won’t touch your property without hazardous duty pay. When show labor has to don hazmat suits before starting an install, that’s not a good sign.

3. Duct tape is an important design element. And you’re excited it now comes in designer colors — Baja Blue and Desert Sunset Yellow.

4. When your booth was purchased, a quarter could transform your hotel bed into Vibrating Magic Fingers. Ahhhhhh!

5. Attendees compliment the “vintage” theme of your booth and graphics. “Very retro!”

6. You decide to re-print your graphics and hand the graphic designer a floppy disk.

7. There are more “just in case” parts than actual display parts.

8. The shipping labels have added 50 pounds to the weight.

9. You lust over the two $99 banner stands in the adjacent booth.

10. The No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty has expired.

11. It smells like the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Even Fabreze can’t kill that odor.

12. You found your distributor by flipping through the Yellow Pages of the phone book.

13. Your storage costs have exceeded your purchase price by a factor of 10.

14. Your graphics have a “Happy Days” theme, and the Fonz is still your unofficial spokesperson. “Ayyyyyyy!”

15. Someone tagged your crate with the Rolling Stones tongue graphic (and you think that’s cool).

16. It folds and weighs more than an AMC Gremlin.

17. Children flee in terror as if they’ve just seen a circus clown.

18. Your competitors gush over your booth . . . . “Don’t Change a Thing! Seriously, Not a Single Thing!”

19. You found a “Win a Free Palm Pilot” Promotional Flyer in the case.

20. Your boss says, “By golly, it was good enough for Old Joe, bless his heart and God rest his soul.”

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, put your display in the compost bin. How do you determine the expiration date of a trade show display?

For more information about trade show or event marketing, give us a call or Contact Us. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your next show.

Article Author:

Mel White
Classic Exhibits Inc.

Building a Better Booth: Design and Planning

The Exhibit Planning Process

  • Start the planning process early and assign someone to handle the schedule
  • Create a budget that reflects the true costs of exhibiting
  • Select the right size exhibit for your budget and marketing goals
  • Trade shows can be expensive, but it’s not difficult to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI)

“Build it and they will come” — This phrase should be your mantra when designing your trade show booth. With a carefully designed trade show booth, you stand a much better chance of attracting potential clients, making sales, gathering contacts, and generally spreading the word about your company. Think of your booth as a microcosm of your business.

Planning and Budgeting 

It is best to plan early. Assign one person to be in charge of timetables and scheduling. Assign another person to draw up the budget and to define the marketing goals. This person will have to account for the cost of renting or buying a booth, the cost of accessories such as literature racks, as well as travel expenses. Travel expenses will vary depending upon the location and duration of your stay. If you decide to rent, you should expect to budget:

  • 25% on renting your booth space
  • 20% on design and graphics
  • 15% on electrical, cleaning, and drayage
  • 10% on shipping materials to and from the trade show
  • 10% on press kits and preshow promotions
  • 20% on staffing, travel, and other miscellaneous expenses

If you decide to purchase an exhibit, you will want to work with a professional exhibit designer. Most exhibit distributors have a designer on staff or rely on their exhibit manufacturer to supply design and rendering services. You will need to follow the rules and regulations on booth design for your particular show as well as observing basics such as fire, electrical, and safety codes and providing wheelchair accessibility. Rely on your exhibit designer who understands these requirements.

Size Matters 

When considering the dimensions of your booth, you will want to take into account booth staffing, as well as account for kioskscounters, conference rooms, and the storage of materials. Be sure your design allows for free flow of attendee traffic in and around your booth. Remove any obstacles at the designing stage. Kali Pearson, writing in Profit Magazine, reminds exhibitors to “Keep your traffic objective in mind. For instance, if you’re there to demonstrate a new product, erect walls that force passers-by to cluster at the front of your booth.” Keep your booth from getting too busy and complex, so people are not confused or overwhelmed by your booth. As a rule of thumb, your exhibit space should resemble a well-organized party and not a crowded disco.

10 x 10 booth is sufficient for a small business. At 100 square feet, you can accommodate at least four people at once, two staffers and two attendees. Consider a 10 x 20 for a medium business, and islands for a larger business. The size of the booth, however, depends on your goals and products. At a trade show, size matters, but it should complement, not dictate, your exhibit marketing goals.

Other Considerations

Think of your both as a 3D advertisement for your company. You should include your company’s colors wherever possible, unless you are using a theme that necessitates certain colors. It is also a good idea to display the company logo as prominently as possible. You will want to coordinate the flooring with the rest of your booth, either by renting carpet from the show decorator or purchasing more upscale solutions such as hardwood flooring, raised flooring, or cushion flooring.

In order to both conserve space and add an exciting look to your booth, display your literature in a literature rack. Audio/Video presentations have become commonplace and affordable for any size exhibit. These allow show attendees to participate in the booth experience and learn more about your company. Large screen monitors are perfect for product demos, interactive videos, or entertaining promotions. Like a moth to a light bulb, show attendees are instantly drawn to professionally produced videos.

For more information, be sure to consult with an exhibit designer or trade show professional. Participating in trade shows can be expensive, but it’s not difficult to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI) with the right planning and expertise.

For more infomation about trade show or event marketing, give us a call or contact us. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your next event.

Article Author:

Mel White
Classic Exhibits Inc.

The Invisible Exhibitor : What Your Exhibitors Aren’t Telling You (and Why That Matters for the Future of Your Show)

Exhibitors feel taken advantage of, rather than valued, and would choose other ways of attracting customers and marketing products if they could. Knowing what to look for and pay attention to regarding the exhibitor experience, and knowing how to address breakpoints in that experience, can have an effect on the long-term viability of a show…..
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Portable Trade Show Display

Portable display units or Portable Trade show displays are easy to set up display units that can transform a boring display into a spectacular exhibit. First Trade Show has some very creative and attractive trade show display units that help in creating an impressive impact on the target customer. Portable-Trade-Show-DisplayThere are many interesting designs such as Evolution, Expocurve, ExpoAire II, and Xpressions. Most of these designs are flexible, easy to assemble, light weight and are portable. The designs are very popular as they are very convenient and provide a professional look to the portable exhibits. The portable booths help you to highlight your product and service in an impressive way. The effective display aids in capturing your customer’s attention. You can view the attractive Portable Display designs on display along with other trade show products.