Coordinating a trade show is a large task. Your facility coordinator will be your partner for several months. Make sure that you have good communication with your facility and coordinator.
It is important for you to find out in the beginning whether the facility can meet your needs.
Here is a list of the information that you should get from the facility in advance of booking your trade show:
- Complete floor plan (entrances, loading dock, improvements, etc.).
- Exhibition floor space (total square footage).
- Heights of ceilings (lighting).
- Does the facility meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements?
- Are meeting and banquet rooms available? How far from exhibit space?
- Are there accessible loading and unloading areas?
- Limitations exhibitors need to be aware of (weight, loading area dimensions, etc.).
- Are there freight elevators and ramps (how many floors to exhibit space, size of elevator, weight limitations)?
- Are there elevators, stairs, and escalators (location, and how many)?
- Are there storage facilities available (if so, cost)?
- What are the insurance requirements?
- Cost of facility (deposit, and terms of payment).
- What services are available? Who is recommended? What are union requirements (labor rates of electricians, carpenters, decorators, security etc.)?
- Additional expenses (telephones, parking, fax machine, press room, utilities, computers, typewriters, show management, desk/office, storage, etc.)
- What are regulations concerning: licenses, liability, fire, building codes, alcohol, cleanup, etc.
- Exhibitors information: shipping address, check-in and checkout procedures, earliest setup time, latest takedown time, inspection dates and times, etc.
- Types of admission: open/free of charge, badge, charge, etc.
- Key contact for security, theft reporting, off-hour contact.
- Exhibit Professionals: This is a rapidly growing industry. There are many professional companies that can help you accomplish your tasks. Exposition service contractors can provide all the services listed here, or you can develop your own team of experts. Exhibit services include: furniture, floor coverings, accessories, pipe and drape, utilities, floor plans, signage, audio visual equipment, staffing, flower/ plant rentals, cleaning service, security services, exhibit design and construction, lighting, sound, communications, photographic services, business service centers, postal packing services, and consulting.
DEVELOPING AN EXHIBIT
Market analysis: Your success with exhibitors will be based on bringing together the right buyers and sellers. If you have had a show before, it is best to survey the attendees to analyze the type of attendee you are attracting. Sample questions include: How did you hear about the show? What is your age? Will you use the products or services presented at the show? What did you like or dislike about the show?
- How much exhibit space is available?
- How many exhibits will fit?
- How accessible is the space for load-in and load-out?
- Are professional decorators available? Needed?
Exhibits are becoming a more integral part of meetings and conventions. This is often due to the revenue they bring to a meeting from exhibitors' fees. The exhibit program complements the convention and as much time should be spent planning the exhibit portion as the other vital parts of a meeting.
Exhibitor promotion: Be sure the exhibitors have as much information as they need about your attendees, as well as what needs the exhibitors can expect from the attendees. Also, be sure the exhibitors have all of the detailed information: the size of the booth, the layout of the booths, the exhibit hours, the color of pipe and drape, the booth inclusions, available utilities, and advertising that is available and/or provided.
Communicate often: Exhibitors need to be kept up-to-date with highlights of the program, list of exhibitors, and numbers of attendees. They will also need an exhibitor packet that will give them details on all the official contractors they may utilize; for example, forms to order flowers, tables, crate storage, shipping, electricity, etc.
Attendance promotions: You are obligated to deliver visitors to the exhibitors. You may use direct mail, advertising in newspapers, television, newsletters, and magazines. Be sure to include the name of the event, date, time, location, description of products displayed, fees (if any), and any special attractions.
On-site: Prepare an operations manual. This will include the exact details of how you plan to run the exhibit portion (including the times, dates, location) and who is responsible for what.
Evaluations and follow-up: A simple questionnaire to gather timely information from your exhibitors will be an invaluable planning tool for next time.
CONVENTION AND EXHIBITION SERVICES
Trade shows are often an important part of a convention or meeting and need to be carefully planned. The help of experts in designing your exhibit space is always advisable. Convention services decorators can assist with everything from producing a floor plan and complying with local fire regulations to providing furniture, carpet, electricity and trash cans for your exhibitors. They can also work with a trade show coordinator in producing reasonable time schedules for set up and tear down, dealing with local restrictions or union regulations, and consulting on other matters that can affect the success of your exhibitors.
For most trade shows you will require booths delineated with pipe and drape. You will need to decide on the size of each exhibit booth (8' x 10' or 10' x 10' are most common). To determine how much space will be needed for an exhibition, the following calculation is useful. Take the total number of exhibit booths you wish to have, multiply by the square feet of each booth and multiply by 2 to get the total square feet you will need for a typical trade show. (For example: If you intend to have 85 booths at 10 square feet each, 85 x 10 = 850 x 2 = 1,700 total square feet needed.) This estimate allows room for wide aisles and ample space for attendees to move between the trade show exhibitors.
Utilizing convention services professionals can make your life much easier. In addition to pipe and drape, furniture and carpet, they will prepare a room diagram of your show, signage for each booth, and may offer such extras as easels, plant rentals, audio and visual equipment and lighting. The company will prepare and send a packet to all of your trade show exhibitors from which they can request electricity, furniture, carpeting or other special services. Some exhibitor services also take full charge of receiving crates of exhibit materials, getting them to the site, and then re-packing the crate and shipping the materials back to you. If your organization does trade shows around the country, it may contract to use the same company in each location in order to have consistent service.