Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

Custom tradeshow booth

Tradeshow Exhibit Installation Dismantle (I&D)

If your tradeshow booth is so big you can’t set it up yourself, you’ll need to hire a crew for installation/dismantle, commonly known as I&D in the industry. If you have an island booth, you’re much better off leaving the set up to the professionals.

Because the booth won’t listen when you yell at it, “Go on, get into place, you booth you!” Sorry, maybe on Harry Potter, but not in real life.

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If you are going to set up your own inline or modular booth, make sure you arrive early at the event. This becomes much easier if you choose a manufacturer that designs products to be lightweight and easy to set up.

Generally you have a couple of choices for hiring: using the show services or hiring an exhibitor approved contractor that is familiar with local rules.

Some of the items that come up as you’re planning your I&D include making sure that the contractor is familiar with local rules where you’ll be exhibiting, making sure they have an accurate rendering (or booth set-up instructions) so they can give you an accurate estimate for installation, and any special equipment you might need for installation, such as a Genie lift, long ladders, electrical equipment and so on. If your contractor needs to buy anything you’ll need to know that upfront so that you can find yard ramps for sale or buy any other equipment needed.

Knowing some of the terms of I&D is helpful as you navigate your coordination with an I&D group:

  • Advance rates: you can save money by booking the exhibit space ahead of time.
  • Advance receiving: with hundreds or thousands of exhibitors all shipping several crates to a show, there is usually a advanced receiving warehouse that gives exhibitors a window to ship booths and have them stored until it’s show time.
  • CIF: if your shipping contract lists a CIF, this simply means that the price is inclusive of cost, insurance and freight.
  • Craftsperson: a skilled worker or laborer
  • Dead time: time when your hired workers are sitting, usually getting paid a lot, while there is nothing to do because of factors beyond their control
  • EAC: Exhibitor Approved Contractor – any company other than the official designated contractor. These may be companies that not only do the booth I&D, they may be involved in AV set-up, photography, plant rental and so on.
  • Four hour call: minimum time that a union laborer must be paid for work performed on the show floor for an exhibitor.
  • Straight Time (ST): work performed on the show floor during normal business hours
  • Overtime (OT): work performed on the show floor outside normal business house which usually included holidays and weekends

Many clients we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits are in the process of moving from the comfort zone of setting up an inline booth to outside the comfort zone of working with an I&D company for the setup of an island booth. Believe me, it can be a challenge if you’ve never done it before. But having seen many of them go through it, it’s also a great growing experience for the company as their booth presence on the tradeshow floor increases and they make a bigger impact on their market.

Bigger is often better – but it takes more effort and coordination to make it happen.

How to Choose a Custom Tradeshow Exhibit House [Video]

When it is time for you to choose a custom tradeshow exhibit house with a designer and fabricator, you are facing a daunting choice. Especially if you’re new to the game.

So we put this brief video together to more closely examine the various ways to choose an exhibit house.

In this video we look at how you might communicate with your exhibit house, what goes into design, the consultant’s depth of experience and strategic partner resources if needed. It all boils down to a couple of things: what you need (and can they handle it) and how well you get along with the company’s reps.

Take a look:

Need to get a quote for an upcoming project? Please go here and fill out the form.

14 Proven Steps to Tradeshow Success [Webinar Replay]

Last fall I put out the book “Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level.” I’ve done several promotions around it, given away a bunch of copies, and use it as my main calling card.

But I’ve never done a webinar on the book. Until now. Check it out:

You can pick up a digital copy of the book at TradeshowSuccessBook.com. Or get your own copy here.

Expo West 2016: Notes from the Swirl

Natural Products Expo West 2016 is in the books. I’m sure they’re still counting the numbers, but I have no doubt the final tally of visitors and exhibitors will top last year’s 71,000 (update: final numbers: 77,000+ attendees, over 3,000 exhibits, 600+ of which were new this year). It’s my 13th time I’ve walked the floor and worked with client exhibitors, and have always enjoyed it. It’s a grueling and weary four days, but well worth the time.

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Some notes and thoughts…

At first blush, it appears that hundreds of exhibitors really stepped up their game. New booths, refreshed and repurposed older booths and new looks were the common themes that run throughout. Having said that, there were still a lot of exhibitors that seriously looked like they didn’t really know what to expect. I did talk to dozens of exhibits (maybe a hundred or more), and many are looking to upgrade for next year’s go-round, simply to compete with their neighbors down the aisle.

Last year I lost count of the time I saw the word ‘natural’ used in graphics. This year, not so much. I did however, see the term ‘superfoods’ used extensively.

Things are always in flux. I talked to several company reps who are facing personal changes because the company they work for has been or is being acquired by a larger entity. This means that while doors close, others open; new opportunities abound because there are always changes afoot in the industry. And even with 70,000+ visitors and exhibitors, it seems like a small industry (which I’m not even a part of, except peripherally!). Many people change companies but still land at this industry show each year.

Big is in – always. While there are hundreds of smaller exhibitors that are in the aisles with 10×10 or 10×20 in-line booths, the convention center is packed with large island booths, 20×20, 30×30, 40×40, 40×70 and more. I know the space is not cheap, so the investments made in marketing at this show are substantial. I spoke briefly with Bob Moore, the iconic “Bob” of Bob’s Red Mill, and he reiterated what he’s said many times before: exhibiting at Expo West year after year has helped the company expand and grow and reach new markets they couldn’t have otherwise reached. Without a doubt, many companies increase the size of their booth simply to show competitors that they’re in charge.

Exhibit construction: while I saw numerous fabric graphics and hanging pillowcase signs, there were hundreds of exhibits that featured solid wooden panels in their construction. At least six companies brought in vehicles (trailers, cars) as part of their exhibit. I saw one table made from a surfboard, a photobooth, one stuffed bear sitting on a toilet, and one iconic dread-deaded lion drinking coffee. There were loads of large graphics that caught your attention from several aisle away.

Social media: always lots of action on Twitter and Instagram. A handful of exhibitors pushed contests from their booth to tag them or tweet or ‘gram them from the show floor for a chance to win. A few years ago, that was a big deal, now it’s just part of the game – some are involved and some are not. Nobody seems to make a big deal about it, but social media engagement and contests are there, just not ubiquitous.

As always, Natural Products Expo West is a big deal – the biggest show of the year for the industry. Always great to be a part!

Check out the photo gallery!


Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

Find Your Exhibit with Exhibit Design Search [Video]

Need to get your hands on your next great tradeshow exhibit but don’t know where to start? Here’s a place that will give you so many choices your head will spin. However, the great thing is that once you narrow your choices down, it’s easy to share with your colleagues and team members. Check out this video:

Check out the Exhibit Design Search now!

Your Tradeshow Marketing Questions Answered [Webinar Replay]

It appears that our first webinar of 2016 went off with a hitch or a hiccup. At least that’s what it felt like! Here’s a replay in case you missed it:

Sign up for future webinars at TradeshowGuyWebinars.com. Our next one is set for February 16 at 10 am Pacific, and will feature Hiett Ives of Show Dynamics, Inc. of Houston Texas. The title of his presentation is “Tradeshow Leads Guaranteed” so you’ll want to make sure to attend!

Tradeshow Blogs and Articles – A Quick One

Time to wrap up a handful of recently spotted articles and blog posts about tradeshows.

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Let’s start with the Huffington Post. Shuly Oletzky of Frigibar Industries posts this nice look at 9 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Appearance at a Tradeshow. Many great ideas here.

If you want some food for thought, check out Inc.com’s The Death of Tradeshows by Dev Aujla, the Founder of DreamNow.

In the news, the White House has announced that President Obama is going to attend the world’s largest tradeshow for industrial technology. Here’s the Associated Press with the story.

TechCrunch believes that the recently completed 2016 Consumer Electronics Show is now a show for start-ups. Here’s their take.

David Saef at TSNN.com goes over The Secrets to Making Live Events Worth Every Penny.

Spark Pay details How to Get Prospects Flocking to Your Booth at a Tradeshow. Some great ideas here, such as investing in look and feel, the use of technology and getting the best location you can.

3 Common Mistakes of Tradeshow Exhibitors (And How to Avoid Them) comes from Contributing Writer Spider Graham at the Business Journals.

And finally Exhibitor magazine chimes in with tradeshow Budgeting: Stats and Formulas. Always a useful thing when preparing for a tradeshow.

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Exhibit Care for the Long Haul

Exhibits are a big investment. Tradeshows cost money, and one of the biggest costs is the initial outlay for a new custom booth. Even smaller, modular booths with little to no customization can put a big ding in your pocketbook. With such a big investment, it makes sense to care for the investment so that it lasts year and years, giving you a better return on your investment.

Keep it Running Like Your Car

A new car comes with a warranty, and often comes with free oil changes and maintenance for a set period of time, depending on how desperate the car companies are to sell you something. A new exhibit will usually have a warranty covering many items, but you’re still responsible for upkeep. Imagine your new car. Yes, you get the oil changes done regularly, but do you clean and vacuum the car often? Do you check to make sure headlights, turn signals and brake lights are all working? You’d hate to get stuck on a cold winter night with no headlights. It’s the same (and different) with your exhibit. It’s the same because it needs upkeep and attention. But it’s different because unlike a car which is driven virtually every day, an exhibit is seen only when it’s out of the cases or crates.

The next time your booth is set up, get there early and go over it with a fine tooth comb. Take photos of damages and make notes of changes you’d like to make such as graphics or layout.

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Time for an Upgrade?

When driving a used car, after tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of miles, you might need a major overhaul. A new transmission, a new engine, of course new tires and brakes on a regular basis. With an exhibit that’s showing it’s age, you just might be ready for an upgrade. Perhaps your company is growing and you need a larger space. This might mean you have to either get a new booth or add on to your current booth. Adding on is the more economical route (usually), and it allows you to keep using the basic booth for a few more years.

Upgrades can also mean adding or changing graphics. And chances are, if your older graphics are at least a few years old, the newer graphics will be printed on newer generation printers with better substrates, which means a much better look.

Making the Case

One often overlooked area for maintaining the value of your exhibit investment are the shipping cases. Whether you have a custom-jigged wooden crate, or a series of smaller cases with custom-cut pads for the exhibit parts, it makes sense to take a close look at those items to make sure they are maintaining their integrity. Over the years those cases and crates are also open to wear and tear. Felt can come off, custom cut jigs can get broken – after all, the very act of setting up and dismantling exhibits is hard on them. If need be, engage somebody to make repairs, or send it back to your exhibit house for repairs.

Go to the Right Shows

The final thought on maintaining the long term viability of your tradeshow booth is to make sure you’re not going to shows that are no longer any good for you. After all, if it’s not a good show, and you’re making the effort to be there, your booth is going through the motions of shipping, set-up, dismantle and shipping back to the warehouse more than it should be. And that adds just one more show to the overall wear and tear.

Like your car, your tradeshow exhibit will last many years. And if you keep it in good shape with tune-ups, tender care and a loving touch on a regular basis, you’ll get even a few more years out of it.


Got a tradeshow exhibit project in mind? Submit a Quote Request with no strings attached.

People’s Choice Awards: Vote Today and Again Tomorrow!

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One of our recent booth projects over the summer was a custom portable modular booth for the Toronto-based company SoYoung. The project turned out so great and people loved the look, that the design and fabrication team at Classic Exhibits thought it should be entered in the Exhibitor Portable/Modular, which recognizes design excellence. So it was. And it made the finals round where you, the public, get to vote!

Classic Exhibits also had two other projects make it to the finals round: Philadelphia Commercial and Nationwide.

The rules for the voting are simple: you can vote only once a day, but you can vote every day.

To vote, simply go here. To learn more about the awards, check this page.

Thanks to SoYoung for letting us design and fabricate their exhibit, and for letting us enter it in the design excellence contest.

And to see a full gallery of photos of the SoYoung booth, check it out here.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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