1. Show paperwork
Typically, we have found that
mistakes are made with the show paperwork. This is usually
because the person filling out the paperwork is not a field
person, and does not have time to make themselves into a
paperwork expert for each and every show. They tend to fill out
each upcoming set of show paperwork almost identically to a past
shows paperwork. However, rules, including services and time
frames change from venue to venue, so your paperwork strategy
should change as well. On average these small mistakes cost you
the customer 10% Ė 15% on services ordered.
2, GC Billing
Typically we find that there are 15%
ďmistakesĒ on the bill from the General Contractor. It takes a
lot of knowledge to spot all of the mistakes and skill coupled
with patience to negotiate with the general contractor and get
everything corrected. Know what you ordered and agree to pay
accordingly. Get any billing mistakes worked out at the show.
We ship from point to point, not
worrying about keeping exhibits in our home warehouse. We
schedule carefully so that maintenance is planned around when
those exhibits will be in our area. Exhibits are designed very
modularly, so that we can even add to complicated exhibits
without having the old pieces shipped back for integration with
the new. By shipping point to point, we keep exhibits on the
most efficient path between venues. This can potentially cut
the costs of shipping by 50%.
We also use shipping by train for
segments that do not require exact delivery and/or pick-up times
(depending on venue). This is quite a bit less expensive
We fill in for our shipping
companies with the thought work. We donít assume that they know
what they are doing. They are focused on 100s of shipments per
day. We are focused on a few, and ultimately are responsible to
We often use shippers that provide
shuttle runs within cities. A whole truck might cost $250-300
dollars as a shuttle run, and these companies are at the trade
show venues every day. They know the freight handling staff and
this eases issues with freight in and out and really limits wait
times. This eliminates 50% of the cost of shipping.
We pick warehouses that are clean,
efficient and low cost. We donít rely on pull and prep at the
warehouse. We manage the condition of the exhibit from the
field except in circumstances where the warehouse comments on
damage to the exhibit during shipping. We inventory exhibit
condition, marketing collateral and supplies during takedown.
This eliminates double handling and cost, and we find it to be
every bit as reliable as pull and prep, but much less costly.
5. Project leadership
Get the best lead man in the field
for each venue. Act as the hub for information, since you are
the common element from show to show. Supply your lead men with
as much information as possible so that they can hit the ground
running and instruct your I & D crew on where specific items are
and how to complete certain tasks. Your notes are very helpful
for them. Experienced lead men work on 100 or more different
exhibits a year. You focus on only a few. Help reinforce their
memory with accurate and detailed notes sent to them or their
employer a few days before the show.
Negotiate with your labor company to
receive a rate at or below show rate. We work with a few
companies so that no one company has the total pie. We make
notes from show to show on who is good in the crew and who
isnít. We request that the good members are repeats at future
venues. For both management and I & D familiarity leads to
We stay during the show and do the
cleaning ourselves. This eliminates cleaning costs and insures
that we are in the booth first thing in the morning to get AV
systems functioning, check that all electrical circuits and
light bulbs are working, and that the booth is provisioned and
ready for action. Elimination of this line item allows us to
reduce some other cost by a greater percentage.
8. Cost analyses for
services and negotiation
We often perform cost analysis for
services like AV and overhead lighting. Usually, you work with
an independent AV house because you have a relationship with
their staff. However, at many venues this increases your cost.
The show designated AV supplier does not get charged any freight
handling fees for the AV equipment. Those AV equipment
deliveries are often whacked with a $300 minimum freight
handling fee, so even if you are using just one monitor, you pay
$300 to have it delivered.
9. Overhead lighting
- Freight handling
fees can be huge. That truss and the light
fixtures can be very heavy. In fact with a small exhibit,
the truss and lights can actually weigh more than the
exhibit. This will double your freight handling costs for
the show. However, at most venues, if you get your lighting
package through the GC, you donít pay any freight handling
on the lights. In addition, the general contractor will
often lock in a great price for rental, installation, power,
and on/off charges. This eliminates unknowns and there are
many with overhead or truss lighting.
- Too many variables
to control. You have a condor or two installing the truss.
$500 per hour each You need a lift to come back and aim the
lights. $500 per hour These large dollar line items add up
quickly. In addition, you need the truss lighting to be
installed before your exhibit so that there is room to
assemble the exhibit. The general contractor has access to
the room early. They can get the lighting installed the day
before the freight comes into the hall, when they can work
the quickest and it costs you the least amount of money.
We have used specialty AV suppliers
for really advanced effects, but in general, everything that the
typical exhibitor requires can be provided more efficiently and
for less money by the general contractor.
10. Seek Constant
Improvement Ė the game is always changing
We use our knowledge and experience
all the time. We keep detailed notes and start working on
improving the results at the next show during this show. We
donít assume that the results from this show can be gotten at
the next show using the same strategy. The GCs change the
rules. Your location changes. Your exhibit changes. Your
needs change. We seek improvement and make changes to create
this improvement. We always want to get the work done in the
most efficient manner possible which insures the lowest possible
costs. We work with the general contractor before the show to
let them know what we need long in advance and find out what
they need in order to keep our projects running efficiently.
This keeps project costs down.
Why canít your exhibit house
provide these same savings?
- They mayhave a large
building to pay for. They count on the storage of your
exhibit to pay their fixed overhead.
- If they are marking up
services, the higher the initial bill, the higher the
profitÖ.No incentive for them to get costs reduced.
- They may not be focused on
reducing costs. To implement these strategies requires very
careful work and work done by a person or team with a lot of
experience with trade show cost reduction strategies.
Typically, the exhibit company member that completes each
task either does not have the depth or the breadth of
experience to maximize cost savings.