Whether yours is a custom exhibit or an exhibit rental, you’ve made a significant financial investment to be at your next trade show. The best way to protect that investment is to ship it through a reputable company and then work with an experienced trade show installation and dismantle outfit. That way you know it’s built exactly as you envisioned and gets back to you undamaged.
Why Use a Trade Show Installation and Dismantle Company?
When it comes to setting up a trade show exhibit, you have limited options because most conference and convention centers require union labor to install and dismantle trade show booths. There are few exceptions to this.
Generally, there’s only one instance in which you might be allowed to set up and takedown yourself: You have a portable exhibit that can be installed in under 30 minutes without the need for tools. In all other cases, you’ll need to hire trade show union labor for installation and dismantle of your exhibit.
Your I&D Options
Given the above, most exhibitors need to hire labor to get their exhibits ready for shows. There are a couple of choices:
- You can hire and work directly with an installation and dismantle (I&D) company, or
- You can choose a third-party option that acts as a facilitator for you and the I&D company – If you’ve been working with ProExhibits on an exhibit build or rental, we’re able to provide this service for you.
Option #2 is the one most exhibitors choose, and it’s what we recommend. Why?
Experienced supervision: While venues don’t require that your exhibit comes with a supervisor, your I&D company is likely to charge a 25% to 30% fee for not sending one along. It’s common for third-party options, like ProExhibits, to send an experienced supervisor to the show even before your booth arrives on the premises. That supervisor is well-versed in your exhibit, design, and plans and is dedicated to making sure installation and dismantle runs smoothly.
Opting out of a supervisor means paying that 25% to 30% fee to the I&D company and working with a floor manager at the venue, who may or may not pop into your booth space to check in.
Cost-effective: With a third-party supervisor coordinating your installation and dismantle, you may even find you save money on this part of the event. Show-site union laborers are paid by the hour, and they don’t know your booth. Without an experienced supervisor, they may spend an hour or more examining blueprints before they’re even ready to start installation. A supervisor can prevent this problem because they’re on hand to coordinate the work and provide time-saving direction.
More time for you: Having an on-site supervisor to oversee installation also saves you precious pre-show time, so you’re free to deal with other details. When you don’t have to worry about supervising the dismantle after the show, you can follow up with leads and new contacts that much sooner.
How to Make Sure Your Installation and Dismantle Go Smoothly
John Taggart of the Sausalito, California-based company Coastal International specializes in installing and dismantling custom trade show exhibits. According to John, the work his employees do relies heavily on the information he gets from the trade show exhibitor. Good communication is paramount in making sure that the exhibit install is completed to a high standard.
When you work with an installation and dismantle company, you’ll need to supply some information about your exhibit.
Before the Show
Your I&D company will need a full-scale layout of your exhibit display in the form of printed blueprints or a digital rendering. This should also include detailed installation information about where each component of the exhibit goes. If your organization uses large or complicated custom exhibits, this is even more important. Incorrectly placed components might compromise the structural integrity of the booth.
They’ll need information about the trade show floor too—the site where your exhibit is to be installed. This includes details such as locations of electrical outlets and other utility access points. Having this information ensures that utility access is set up before booth installation starts.
You’ll also need to provide an inventory of what you’re sending to the trade show. For instance:
- A full written list of all booth components – This should be a detailed, descriptive breakdown of every item that makes up the booth, describing what the items are, and their sizes and dimensions.
- Any other items associated with the booth, such as AV equipment, printed marketing materials, swag, hanging signs and banners, and furniture items.
- An inventory of crates and skids—including the numbers of each—and an itemized list of what’s in each one – This ensures everything gets to the right destination, and if one or more items is separated from the main group, there’s a better chance of it being found. This is especially important if you’re using skids, since items are less likely to be lost if they’re transported in crates.
This information should be provided to your I&D company at least five to seven business days before the start of the show. It’s crucial because in the days leading up to the show, your exhibit team is likely to be traveling there. They may be unreachable for a significant amount of time. So any questions about the exhibit installation must be settled well before the show is due to start.
What happens if your I&D company doesn’t have this information on-hand? If you’re lucky, nothing. But if your installer has to make a judgment call on installation, and it turns out to be the wrong one, having to dismantle and reinstall the exhibit could be costly and time-consuming. Provide the necessary information, and the job is done right the first time.
As well as installation management, there’s also freight and drayage to coordinate. The best option, if possible, is to ship all exhibit components and accessory items to the venue’s advance warehouse. This means it’s all there well before the start of the show, and everything is on-hand when it’s time to start installation.
After the Show
Once the exhibition is over, your trade show exhibit must be packed up and shipped out. The dismantle needs to be done with just as much care as the installation, so nothing is damaged during transit and every item arrives at the right place.
The blueprints you provide for installation will come in handy here, as will having a dedicated dismantle supervisor. Otherwise, you risk inexperienced workers who over-dismantle the booth, taking apart items that should be left as-is.
You must also provide the I&D company with the specifics of your outbound shipping destination. They should have information on the correct shipping address, plus instructions for repacking the exhibit and other items. And don’t forget bills of lading for the outbound shipments. These must be provided before shipping can proceed.
A Great Show Starts with the Right Set-Up
Good exhibition management is more than having a great sales pitch and an experienced booth team. Your event success starts with the exhibit installation and a display that’s set up safely and correctly, so you get the most out of the event!