Avoid Hidden Costs in Setting up your Trade Show Displays

There are hidden costs everywhere at trade shows, but there are also gold mines waiting to be tapped. Convention and expo centers across the nation are often dominated by a host of regulations concerning the amount of labor you can do when you’re setting up your trade show booths.

Here’s 3 tips for how lightweight portable trade show displays can save you a lot of money and maximize your returns:

1) Do your homework before designing your portable trade show displays.

Every city and convention center has their own regulations, and those translate into up-front labor costs – or stiff fines if you infringe on the rules. Anything you can find in print, online, or by making a phone call to the convention center representative will help you design cost-effective portable trade show displays.

sacajawea portable hybrid trade show display with tension fabric graphics

Let’s look at a random venue, say the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA. According to the rules as stated by Absolute Installation & Dismantle:

“Depending on the association that is doing the show, full time employees may hand carry their materials into the convention center, but may not use any type of assistance such as dollies or mechanical equipment.”

Therefore, anything that you can bring in by hand will save you on costly labor fees. Lightweight, smaller components that can be assembled without the use of tools can save you huge amounts of overhead in the long run. That means any display cases on wheels, that you can bring in, eliminates the drayage fee

Electricity is another huge sinkhole of funds. Going back to our E.N.M Convention Center example:

“The Convention Center is responsible for the installation of all electrical distributions from the power source to the exhibit… Often times, the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor can take care of running and laying the electrical but cannot plug it in to the ground.”

As you can see, having a streamlined electrical system for your portable trade show display that allows you to easily lay it out as you do the assemble and disassemble the components is critical.

2) Arrive early and pre-assemble portable trade show displays

As you do your homework, you may find that it costs less to send your team a day early, pay for the hotel costs, and apply a little elbow grease along the way. If you’ve chosen one of the latest generation designs, featuring toolless assembly, for your exhibition stand, then you can eliminate that 4 hour 2 person union minimum setup charge! Using lightweight trade show displays will have save you money and make this easier.

If you don’t have a toolless display design, at least plan to put together the smaller components of your portable display a day early; this can be a lifesaver. There’s a serious time-crunch between when the convention center allows vendors in and when the public arrives. You’ll want to allow as much time as possible for the labor components at the venue to take care of your installation.

Purchasing or receiving shipped items a day before can save you huge amounts of money. Things like garbage cans, vacuums, water and food for your staff, flower arrangements, etc can usually be procured from the convention center – but you’ll end up paying outrageous amounts.

interactive modular display

3) Maximize your portable trade show displays for technology and smartphone interaction

You know the vast majority of potential clients at trade shows have smartphones! Here’s two ways to use your trade show display to engage them:

Use QR codes on everything: Your signage, brochures, shirts… Most people at trade shows will have smartphones, and if they’re not familiar with scanning QR codes, they should be! Don’t just display the QR code – add a call-to-action above and state what they’ll receive below (Scan my back! Get a 20% discount!).

Encourage people to connect with you on your social media platforms immediately on their smartphones. Or send them to a personalized landing page (Welcome, Floridians!) on your website.Remember: the more fronts you can engage people on, the more likely they’ll remember – and do business with you – in the future.

For different ways to save money, check out our tips on saving money in places that visitors won’t see.

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