Saturday, November 29, 2014

Truths and Myths of Trade Show Labor

If you exhibit at trade shows in the USA you have most likely run into issues with trade show labor regulations at some point. The rules will vary depending on the city you are in. Some states have laws protecting exhibitors. These states are often referred to as “right-to-work” states.  The following link includes a map state-by-state. The map looks very similar to the electoral college map during elections. The blue states are right to work. Even in a right to work state there can still be regulations as to what you can and cannot do that are mostly based on the contract you signed when you decided to exhibit. It is common for strict union labor states to also allow some exceptions based on the contracts between the show management, General Contractor and exhibitors.

Common ExceptionThe common exception waiver in strict union states is to allow an exhibitor to set up their own display if they meet all of the following requirements. 1. The display is 10′ x 10′ or smaller, 2. Tools are not required, and 3. It can be completed in 30 minutes or less.

Trade Show Labor Options
When show labor is required the local union sets the price per hour in each city. The rate per hour can range from $85 per hour all the way up to $185 per hour depending on where you are exhibiting. Show management will have a contract with a general contractor that can provide the labor, but you can also hire a 3rd party, union certified contractor to provide your labor needs. The cost is almost always exactly the same, but when you hire a 3rd party company you have a higher probability of receiving very experienced workers as well as an account rep that wants you to be happy.

Unfortunate Truths
Unfortunately, many shows manipulate the schedules which can cause very inflated costs for show labor. Standard show labor rates are based on “straight time” which is typically between 8 AM and 4 PM Monday through Friday. If your hire labor for any other hours you will have to pay time and a half or even double-time for each hour. It’s not uncommon for a show to require you to setup during off-hours or on a weekend which automatically causes the additional labor rates to apply. If this is a concern to you, be aware and always request the setup days and times with your show rep before booking space. Show management may be willing to offer you a discount on your floor space to combat this issue if you know to address it upfront.

Exhibitor Appointed Contractors
Any 3rd party that you hire to work on the setup or dismantle of your exhibit would be considered an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor. (EAC) You will be required to inform the show management that you plan on using an EAC. Your show book will include a form to fill out to use an EAC.

Get To Know Your Labor
If you often exhibit in the same cities you should make every attempt to form a relationship with the floor manager and exceptional labor that you may have received. Treat your labor with respect and they will often reciprocate. If you chose to hire an EAC or work with the show management’s GC you should try to get to know the players and make arrangements to use them again in the future. A few notable stand-outs that we work with are Jason Pirotti with Spectrum at the Javits Center, Ken Mattingly with Zenith in Las Vegas and “Cali Bob” with Freeman in Anaheim. Please give a shout-out to your notable laborers in the comments section. We encourage you to elaborate on this article and share any labor-related stories in the comments below.

This article was originally published at:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Renting Versus Buying a Trade Show Exhibit

There are pros and cons to both renting or buying a display or exhibit for trade shows. Many companies choose to rent a display over and over again even though they could have saved a lot of money if they purchased their display. Conversely, some companies make significant investments in buying a new display and could have saved a lot of money by simply renting. Here are some tips to help you decide which option is best for your company.

Top 5 Benefits of Renting an Exhibit
1 - No large upfront investment required
2 - You do not have to add the exhibit to your balance sheet as an asset
3 - You can deduct the cost of rentals, compared to having to amortize the cost of purchases over multiple years
4 - Change your display style or design as often as you wish without incurring additional expense
5 - No storage fees

Top 5 Benefits of Buying an Exhibit
1 - Save money over time by eliminating a recurring rental expense
2 - You can store your exhibit at your own facility to save on storage fees
3 - Exhibit purchases can be leased or financed to spread the expense out over time
4 - Additional customization options are available
5 - You can make last minute decisions on event participation and know the display is available.

Nowadays almost every exhibit design is available to rent and competition in the rental business has driven pricing down slightly. A good way to decide weather to rent or purchase a new exhibit is to honestly access your needs. If you plan to participate in at least 4 trade shows with the same exact display you should start to consider purchasing your exhibit. If you plan to exhibit in at least 3 events a year, for 2 or more years, using the same exhibit you should definitely purchase.

If you are unsure ask your exhibit company if they would allow you to apply a portion of your first rental price toward the purchase of an exhibit after you had a chance to see how the design works out for you at an actual trade show. If it worked out well and you plan to use it again, you may want to own it. If it does not suite your needs you can try a brand new design for your next event.

For more information on renting versus purchasing an exhibit visit to compare models and options.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Trade Shows Are Thriving in 2014

Could 2014 be the year that brings Trade Shows back to the "Must do" side of the budget for marketers?

Next week begins with the 2014 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas and all indications are that the show will be much bigger and definitively more crowded that it has been in over a decade.

The 2014 show will feature nearly 3,000 exhibiting companies and takes up two full convention halls as well as outdoor exhibitors. The most impressive statistic is that there are over 600 new exhibitors at this year's show and the 2014 show features the largest number of new products ever. It's great to see new companies such as TurfShade understand the value and opportunity in participating. Below is a picture of a POP Display we produced for Turf Shade. If the show is a success for them you may see this display in retail stored across the country in 2015.

Related to the industry in general, the National Hardware Show ranks around 30th in the countries largest trade shows. Shows like the AG World (Agricultural) and CES (Consumer Electronics) top the list. 

For more information on the size, locations and industries for all trade shows visit

CDS Displays wishes all exhibitors success at their trade shows this year and are always here to help with Trade Show knowledge and expertise. Please +1 this article if you found it worthwhile or interesting.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

3 Trade Show MarketingTrends for 2014

We have seen a lot of trends developing late in 2013 that will impact Trade Shows in 2014. Here are the Top Three

1. Bigger Booth Space
Starting in Q3 2013 many customers started to plan for a "bigger" presence at their 2014 trade shows. Most common has been the upgrade from 10 x 20 displays to 20 x 20 island exhibits. An island exhibit is a very smart upgrade for large inline exhibitors. Other than the cost of the floor space most of the associated costs only increase marginally and some costs don't increase at all. An island space provide a lot more impact for the dollar. The biggest advantage is the height restriction. Inline displays have a strict height restriction of 8' in the back and only 4' toward the front of your space. Island spaces almost always allow exhibitors to exceed 16' in height and many venues can support 20' tall exhibits.

2. Space Draw Participation
Booth space location on the show floor plan has become the 2nd most important factor that our clients have been concerned with for 2014 and beyond. Many exhibitors are reluctant to book their space for next year during the "space draw" process that takes place at most trade shows because they are either waiting to see how the show performed or believe that they may get a lower cost for the space later. The majority of our customers are planning to participate in the space draw process at their 2014 events with the hopes of garnering better locations for the following year.

3. Social Media Integration
By now everyone is aware of the value of social media as a part of their marketing efforts and what better way to leverage the power of social media than at a live event. Our customers are adding tablets and ipads to their exhibits to allow real-time interaction and sign ups in the booth. Simple tools such as social media aggregators allow exhibitors to easily display tweets, posts and any social media interaction on a large screen in the booth. This causes an increase in the number of attendees who follow, like and post about the exhibitor simply to see their post or tweet show up on the big screen. Most of these show attendees will continue to be a fan or follower of the exhibitor long after the show. Considering these attendees are truly the exhibitors target audience there is no better method that we are aware of to improve your social media efforts than through trade show interactions and promotions.

For more information on this or any trade show marketing related subject you can contact the author (Joe Bottone) through his company website