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Cost Cutting tips in your exhibitor kit

Written by Susan Ratliff on December 15th, 2008. Posted in Uncategorized

Everyone is pulling in the reigns on spending so now is the time to revisit some basic ways to cut expenses from your next tradeshow budget.  Exhibit marketing is a team effort. The team extends beyond your sales and marketing departments and includes the tradeshow promoter and the convention services company too.  As your tradeshow schedule expands around the country it is wise to cultivate a close relationships with the various exposition services that dominate the industry. 

Here in Arizona one of the more innovative and receptive suppliers is Modern Expositions www.modernexpositions.com.  Their General Manager, Randy Breen, is a hands-on leader who brings many years of experience in the planning, production and execution of tradeshows to this convention services organization.  Customer service is at the top of his list of priorities. He knows from the tradeshow floor level what an exhibitor needs to be successful and his competent crew delivers efficient, helpful assistance.  Give Randy a call.  If he can’t help you he knows a company who can.

Here is some information that will assist you in getting the most from your service providers and shipping company.  Understanding your exhibitor Kit will save you money and headaches.

Your exhibitor kit

When you make a commitment to exhibit in an expo, you will receive an exhibitor’s kit from the promoter or the show decorator that is managing the event. It may be mailed as a hard copy, but most likely will be accessible on line. When the exhibitor kit is available on a website you have the opportunity to read the entire kit, but only print those forms you need.

The kit will consist of page after page of instructions, restrictions and rules you must follow as an exhibitor. It will also include helpful information, critical deadlines and important order forms that, if read and followed in a timely manner, will save you time, money and headaches.  I suggest you create an on site book for every show.  This can be a folder or a binder that will have copies of all the pertinent documents, signed forms, authorizations, certificates, contact persons, billing information and payment permissions for everything you need.  Document all communications with everyone pertaining to the show and keep all their contact information in this file for easy reference.    Following are some of the most important areas of information covered in the kit.

Installation and Dismantle

In the kit there will be specific times assigned to your company for setting up and taking down your display. This is particularly important due to the enormous number of companies that must bring in exhibits through the loading docks. If the show is local and you have a portable exhibit you will be setting up by yourself, you might be permitted to drive your vehicle onto the dock and unload your merchandise, but you must then remove and park your vehicle before you can return to take your things to your booth. If you are shipping exhibit materials, you will need to make arrangements for services such as warehousing, delivery, drayage and labor.  Each is explained in detail below.

Union Labor

In many states, labor unions rule the trade show convention halls and you cannot so much as plug in a light fixture without paying a union worker. You are permitted to set up your booth by yourself, provided one person can do so in thirty minutes or less with no tools. This time restriction is unrealistic for most exhibitors.  Otherwise, you must consent to use union workers and the documentation outlining rates and rules will be provided in the Exhibitor Kit. Union rates are usually very expensive averaging $75 per hour, per worker during regular day hours, increasing to overtime after 4:00 PM and time and a half on weekends and holidays.  Along with the labor rates comes the cost of equipment rentals. If you need to place a header on your center kiosk you might need a forklift.  To hang shelves you might need to rent a ladder.  Hanging signs above an exhibit will require a scissor lift.  The use of any of the show services equipment necessary to complete your installation and dismantle will result in a charge to you.

If you cannot or do not wish to set up your exhibit yourself, and don’t want to pay union labor there is a very important page in your exhibitor kit you will want to pull out as soon as possible.  It is the Non-Official Contractor form.  This form allows you to hire an outside company of your choice. These non-official contractors must present certain business information and provide a certificate of insurance to the convention services company or decorator, in charge of the show. When you arrange for labor you are taking money out of the pockets of the convention services company so rules and deadlines must be strictly followed.  The non official contractor paperwork must be in the hands of the decorator thirty days before the show so make it a point to send it well in advance of the deadline to prevent any problems.  Keep copies and records of all paperwork and communications.  Call to confirm you’re your documents were received by show management, because if they do not have a copy on file by the due date, then your contract labor or staff will not be permitted to erect your display and you will be forced to pay the labor rates of the contractor.

 

Save money on installation & dismantle services

Pack several sets of setup instructions inside your exhibit cases. Include pictures of the completed booth in all configurations you normally use.  Take pictures from several different angles for clarity.  Show details of where counters, shelves, monitors and computers are located. Include pictures of all graphic applications and where graphics should be mounted.  Send along a touch up kit with paint, cleaning supplies, rags, assembly tools and a hand vacuum.  Get the cell phone number of any contract laborers or supervisor and give them yours. Make sure a dependable staff member sets a time to meet the exhibit installers to confirm the proper booth configuration and graphic positioning.  Hiring your own installation supervisor would be wise.  If the laborers set up your exhibit incorrectly or different from your preference because there were no instructions in the crates or they were difficult to decipher it could be very costly to take it down and reinstall everything.

Drayage
If you wish to ship your crates and containers of show materials in advance, you will need to contract drayage services. Drayage is the service of moving your freight from the loading dock to your booth space then picking up your empty shippers, storing them and returning them to your booth when the show is over.  In a small event at a hotel you may be permitted to store a few cases behind your booth or under a table, but this will not be the case at most convention halls.

Drayage is an expensive service, billed according to the weight of your shipments.  The fees average $1 per pound of weight with a minimum of 100lbs. The key to saving money on this service is keeping accurate documentation on the weight of your freight. If such documentation is not available, the company can weigh your containers themselves and charge fees from those numbers. Obtain a weight ticket from your freight carrier and always check it against the drayage bills to prevent overcharges. Ship everything in advance in one shipment to minimize weight charges.  Document everything and keep copies of all forms in a show folder and bring it with you to the show.

Electrical Service
There will be a special order form in your kit pertaining to electrical services. There is usually a separate company working with the show decorator to provide all the electrical needs.  You must calculate and determine your voltage, wattage and amp requirements before you fill out the order. It’s easy to count your watts from your bulbs in the lighting fixtures you use, but if you plan to bring video equipment, computers, or multi-media electronics, it’s best to consult your audiovisual provider or speak to the electrical contractor first. Consider the amount of electrical cords that you will need to run everything.  If there are too many thick cords that will cause a hazard if run under the carpet, you might be required to pay for a ceiling drop where the electric connection comes from above into your display.  There are new flat electrical extension cords now available too. Take advantage of special discounts by ordering early. Bring your own extension cords, converters, bulbs and attachments so you will not have to rent anything at the last minute. The electric company is only responsible for bringing service to your booth.  You will again be charged for labor to lay the lines. Do not plug in any electrical cords or run any wires without first checking with the electric supplier.  Familiarize your self with the early bird discounts and the rules in your kit and cut costs at your next event

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy USA or a Cheap import?

Written by Susan Ratliff on July 30th, 2008. Posted in inexpensive alternatives

When buying everything on the internet became commonplace, there was panic throughout the exhibit industry.  Display distributors were concerned that businesses would no longer visit their beautiful showrooms and engage in sales dialog with their staff when they could research thousands of product options on the world wide web.   Exhibit manufacturers truly feared that easy access to inexpensive products from Asia would doom their thriving marketplace.  The reality is it never happened.  I have been selling displays, graphics and exhibiting accessories for fourteen years and I only occasionally lose a sale to an import.  Sometimes it takes a little salesmanship to show the client the pros and cons, but there is still value in service and “made in the USA”. When I attend the Exhibit Show in Las Vegas, which is the largest tradeshow for the tradeshow industy, I get to view and inspect all the exhibit properties manufactured in the US and abroad.  The foreigners seem to try to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.  They produce very similar displays, but from what I have observed, the structures are thinner, weaker, and seem to have inferior parts.  Why would I want to sell their stuff when my reputation was built on representing quality solutions from one of the top portable manufacturers in the county?  Featherlite Exhibits, in Minneapolis, www.Featherlite.com has been crafting exceptional, innovative exhibits for about 50 years. The other issue is repairs, warrantys and quick service.  You cannot get that when your broken unit needs to go back to China.  There are interesting perspectives on this issue and I have been quoted on my views in a great article found in newsletter published by Radius Display products, www.radiusdp.com.  Connect to the article below and decide for yourself.   

http://www.e-dition.com/radiusdisplay/issues/200808/feature1.php

Later

Have display, will travel, will sell stuff

Written by Susan Ratliff on July 20th, 2008. Posted in Uncategorized

Have display, will travel.  I just returned from the Boulders Resort’s Red Door Spa.  I spent the entire day there getting pampered.  I went to the pool, had lots of healthy snacks, a generous dose of chocholate, a facial and literally lounged around with about 100 other women being rejuvenated.  It was an Arizona Spa Girls event. www.summerspaza.com.  The Spa Girls along with Dena Patton’s Chat, Chew & Chocolate www.chatchewandchocolate.com host a series of wonderful spa experiences for a fraction of the cost of what it would normally be to attend these tony locations.  Plus it serves as a fundraiser for a great cause: Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.  The point I am getting at is that during each event, along with the food, spa treatments and goodie bags, there are a variety of table top vendors offering their wares.  There is a Doctor who analyzes your skin for sun damage. He offers a line of pharmacutical grade skin care products.  There are several jewelry artists, a self defense school and others who were smart enough to snag this exclusive selling opportunity.  They set up their exhibit table and sell to this ready, willing and able captive audience.  For those of you that are innovative and bold enough to ask, there are dozens of events like this all over the valley that are prime real estate for your six foot table display.  Put on your thinking cap and dive into your marketing mind to uncover your next exclusive selling opportunity today.

There are so many unique opportunities to get your company name, products and services in front of potential customers if you are a prepared exhibit marketer. Forget tradeshows and consumer events.  Look for exclusive opportunities to have a captive audience with your buyers

Blogathon update

Written by Susan Ratliff on July 16th, 2008. Posted in great new blogs

I am too tired to post much today because I just commented on all the terrific blogs of my fellow blog a thon participants.  There are some interesting new members in the group and I highly recommend taking a peek at every one of their blogs listed  below.  Welcome newcomers.  Happy reading and writing.

Jackie Dishner
http://bikewithjackie.blogspot.com
http://www.thephoenixtraveler.com

Andrea Beaulieu
www.ConspiracyOfLove.net

Mimi Meredith
www.blog.thegoodnessgrows.com

Suzy Graven
http://articles.secretsofthesavvywoman.com/
 
Beth Terry

www.CorporateCowgirl.com

Vickie Mullins
http://www.mullinscreative.blogspot.com/

Michelle May
http://blogs.eastvalleytribune.com/consumed/

Arlene Rosenberg
http://www.leadingachievers.com

Stanley Bronstein
http://stanleybronstein.com
 
Stephanie Angelo

http://hressential.com/wordpress

Quinn McDonald
http://QuinnCreative.Wordpress.com
 
Barbara McNichol
www.nonfictioneditor.wordpress.com
 
Suzanne Holman

http://www.LessonsForYourMillionDollarLife.com
 

Home shows draw thousands

Written by Susan Ratliff on July 13th, 2008. Posted in consumer expos

I had the distinct pleasure of presenting an exhibit marketing seminar to over 100 exhibitors who are preparing for the Maricopa County Home & Garden show that will be taking place at University of Phoenix Stadium August 1-3. www.MaricopaCountyHomeShows.com.   What surprised and pleased me was the fact that several attendees had come back to hear the presentation again after attending my last program for the Home Show.  When I asked them why they wanted to hear the same program again they told me that they successfully used some of the ideas I shared, but could not remember them all and came again for a refresher course.  I was delighted, of course, and honored when they shared a testimonial of their successful implementation of my strategies with the audience.  This event is an amazing marketplace for any company that wants to reach homeowners.  It is the largest home show in the southwest and is a woman-owned enterprise.  Thirty thousand people will pass through their doors in three days.  Their website gets over 100,000 hits before each of their four annual events.   I just completed a total backyard makeover and got our flagstone patio, built in BBQ, artificial grass and patio furnature from exhibing companies I met at a previous show.  It’s a lot of fun, so check it out if you need anything to do with your home decoration, building, landscaping etc.

Susan