In the world of marketing, few tools have ever been developed that have more immediate impact on the sales of goods and services than a booth at a trade show.

A trade show brings together a targeted group of individuals who have a demonstrated interest in the general class of services that you offer. The old adage about "shooting fish in a barrel" is about as close to an accurate definition as you’ll find for describing the relative return on marketing investment for a trade show.

Each trade show has a theme and a targeted audience. If you select the right show, and "work" the crowd, you’ll end up with more viable sales leads in a short period of time, than any other method.

Make no mistake about trade shows, however – they are a major selling effort and as such, constrained by all the rules of selling plus the specific considerations for the trade show itself and most importantly, your booth and its functionality and visibility within the show.

The material in this program is the result of many years of attending trade shows, setting up and manning the booths at trade shows, and reaping the rich rewards for properly "mining the action" in the crowds of passerby’s. Good luck and may you strike marketing gold at every show.

Why Trade Shows?

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, the number of trade shows has more than doubled in 10 years from 4,500 to nearly 10,000. Courtney Chamberlain, manager of marketing communications for CEIR, said 1997 estimates predict there will be 126 million companies exhibiting to 110 million people attending the trade shows.
Trade shows are booming because they attract decision makers. According to CEIR's research, 87 percent of those attending had power to make decisions about purchasing services, or the ability to make strong purchasing recommendations. Most service purchases are made within 12 months of the show and twenty-six percent of the attendees signed a purchase order at an exhibit.

The growing number of small businesses has found participation in trade shows to be a good marketing decision. The benefits include:
• Generating qualified leads.
• Targeting a specific audience.
• Personally meeting customers, competitors and suppliers.
• Introducing new and services.
• Demonstrating service results.

A trade show can bring many results, not just the obvious sales and leads. To maximize your trade show opportunities, you must first pinpoint your desired outcomes and share them with your staff. Well-written objectives specify the expected number of well-qualified leads, the amount of new business to write, the goal of market research efforts, which competitors to study, the desired qualities of potential sales people to hire or potential strategic alliances.

Still, the main object is to sell. To attract people to your booth, you must have an attractive, creative booth. Do something unusual, maybe even wacky, to get people's attention.

It is a good idea to "pre-sell" your booth by sending your customers a note with your booth number, inviting them to stop by for something special. Once you have identified a real prospect at the booth, if you want to make a sale you might want to take that person to a separate location -- a room away from the crowd -- where you can talk serious business.

The greater the expense of the item you sell, the more valuable the two-stage process can be, because it alleviates a sales call later when a contract could just as easily be signed at that moment.

At the Consumer Electronics Shows, you may see virtual reality and mini-theaters to draw customers, but you don't need to go such lengths to get results. Remember to have fun! Don't waste your time or the attendees' time by making small talk when they enter your booth. Be prepared with pre-qualifying questions that tell you whether you have a potential buyer or not.

Follow-up is critical to the overall success of your experience. Again, develop your plan ahead of time so that you can be the first to respond to requests for information after the show. Follow this with a phone call to set an appointment.


You've chosen the trade show, packed your bags, and set up your booth. Now what? Just because you have a captive audience at a trade show does not mean that you are going to come home with the leads (and that means qualified leads) that you are looking for - unless you do a little advance planning and goal setting.
Make everyone who visits your booth remember your organization -- favorably!
Here are the key elements to a successful and memorable trade show booth:

1. You don't have to spend a lot of money or be a Fortune 500 company to make your company stand out from the crowd. Keep in mind these elements:
• Booth design
• Staffing
• Handouts

2. Know who will be attending the show and WHY they are attending.
• This will give you insight into what they want from you and will help you design your handouts and sales pitch.
• Set some attainable goals to measure your success.
• Make your space open and inviting so that attendees are comfortable to come into your booth to view your displays and to speak with you.

3. Not everyone stops at every booth.
• Believe it or not, you don't even need (or want) every attendee to stop at your booth. The key is getting only those visitors who will be qualified leads to stop and take up your booth staff's valuable time.
• Design an interesting and appealing exhibit to get people to stop at your booth.
• Studies show that 14% of people remember a booth because of its color or design.
• Command attention by making a well designed presentation. Choose color for items that you want to stand out and black or white for text.
• Don't go overboard; too much color will look garish and unprofessional.
• Match your colors to your company image and your product line.
• Make sure your area is well lit.
• Bob Babine, Sales Manager for Houston's Nomadic Display, a full service exhibit company, says that the key to a show-stopping booth is "large-scale graphics that are simple and understandable and that can be easily read from 10-20 feet. As people hurry by, they must be able to catch the gist of your company's message within seconds. Backlighting graphics is another attention grabbing option."

4. Make sure your signage represents what your company does.
• People expect to find (see) your company's name at the top of the booth; so make sure it is there.
• Hurried show attendees are less likely to stop at a booth that says "Mike’s Services"; so put up a sign that tells what your company can do for that show attendee and your booth's appeal will skyrocket. This will also help cull out the people that are not right for your product or service. IE – "Low Cost Marketing Services for Small Service Businesses".

5. Demonstrate your services or have materials that explain the benefits of your services. • Create something the attendee can take back to the office.
• If your service does not lend itself to demonstrations, try having displays that can be picked up and touched.
• Put literature and give-aways near the back wall so that attendees will have to come into your booth.

6. Make sure that your materials are attractive, concise, easy to read, and benefit laden.
• Talk about what your company can do that makes you the right one for the job.
• Keep your literature theme similar to that of your booth's visuals so that attendees can tie the two together.
• Be sure that information on how to contact you is prominently displayed in your materials.
• Close the sale with your literature!

7. Now that your booth and literature have grabbed their attention let your sales staff "shine".
• That old saying about first impressions is true; this may be your only chance to reach show visitors.
• Remember, it's often difficult to see all of the booths even once. Don't count on someone coming back to your booth if they couldn't get what they wanted the first time.
• Friendly knowledgeable staffers and ample appropriate literature is a must.
• Do not skimp on booth staff, most attendees will wait no longer than one minute for a staffer's attention. Remember, attendees are in a hurry.

8. Insist on your staff practicing the sales pitch.
• To consistently cover all of your points, write it down and practice, practice, practice.
• Be sure your reps stay enthusiastic.
• Your message should be short -- time is of the essence to hurried show visitors.
• Make sure that staffers can answer questions beyond the information in the pitch. If they don't have a ready answer, make sure they call upon another staffer or follow up after the show.

9. In order to stop the swirling sea of show attendees greet everyone that walks by.
• Try to use open-ended questions that require a response other than yes or no and that qualify the attendee's need for your product or service.
• Be aggressive, don't sit back and wait for them to come to you. You will have a very long wait!
• There is nothing more uninviting than a staffer sitting in a chair behind the table focusing his or her interest on everything but the attendees. Also, no eating at the booth! Most halls now don't allow any smoking, inside; so schedule your smokers to 'smoke and eat' breaks. Others to 'eat' breaks. AND for all --'get off the feet' breaks!

10. One of the benefits of a show is that it compresses the time it takes to see new prospects.
• The negative aspect is that it compresses the amount of time the customer has to spend with you.
• Trade shows are a little different than the "usual" one-to-one sales contact. Between distractions and a busy show schedule, you have a limited amount of time to qualify your leads (once you have stopped them) - typically you have only 3-7 minutes -- to determine their needs and wants and speak to any concerns that they may present."
• Even though you want only qualified leads, don't allow your staff to be inattentive.
• Someone may not need your services, but can recommend you to someone who does. Greet everyone, but spend your time on those who can really use your organization.

11. You need a method of finding out if you are talking to the right person.
• Try asking open-ended questions like these: How does your company use our service? Questions that start with: "How", "What", "Why", "When".
• Take an attendee's business card, and make notes on the back after the prospect leaves.
• Some shows will even provide lead forms for your use - use them or create your own.
• Follow up promptly after the show; otherwise, you might as well not have even attend. Interest in your product or service will fade quickly as the attendee returns to the fast pace of the corporate business world -- 'out of sight, out of mind'.

12. Consider using marketing and publicity in advance.
• Make sure that potential attendees know that you are going to be at the show.
• If you have something special - talk to the media.
• Don't forget the value of attendee lists. Pre-registered, especially.
• Whet interest in your company's booth (before the show even starts) by sending out some interesting morsels about your company. One company even sends a "coupon" with a promise that if the attendee brings it to the booth the day of the show he or she will get a mug or a key chain.
• In these times of downsizing and shrinking budgets you must use your resources wisely. Follow these tips and your trade show exhibit will be a "show stopper", both enjoyable and worthwhile.

Remember, you determine the return on your trade show investment!

Your Trade Show Success Checklist

Take a look at this checklist. This is a list of things you will have to get ready for the show and budget for. Look at each category. Some will need lots of attention from you, some of them you'll want to delegate to others, some you'll want to bring in outside experts to help you, and some of them won't apply to your show.
__Pre-show Promotion __ Planning expense __ Design
__ Printing __ Mailing __ Assembly
__ Postage __ Telemarketing __ Gifts
__ Advertising __ PR and media relations __Exhibit Floor Space Charges
__Exhibit __ Purchase, lease, rental __ Storage if purchased
__ Refurbishing if purchased __ Tool and survival kit __Signs and Graphics
__ Show specific __ Refurbishing __Exhibit Furniture
__ Tables __ Special displays __ Garbage cans
__ Carpeting and pad __Freight and Shipping __ Exhibit
__ Furnishings __ Sample products __ Premiums, literature, etc.
__ Drayage __ Overnight services for things you forgot __Install and Dismantle
__ Labor __ Labor supervision __ Utilities
__ Electricity __ Water __ Air
__ Phone lines __ Exhibit cleaning __ Additional decorating
__ Plants, flowers __ Balloons, etc. __ Security
__Exhibit Staff __ Hotel __ Meals
__ Entertainment __ Travel __ Air
__ Ground __ Conference registrations __ Uniform, special clothing
__ Other expenses __Sales __ Lead form
__ Lead capture system __ Staff training program __ Premiums
__ Non-disclosure agreements __ Lead management services __Other Promotional Activities
__ Educational presentations __ Meetings expense __ Special events
__ Staff dinners __ Customer parties __ Hospitality suite
__On-site Promotion __ Signs __ Flyers
__ Advertising __ Premiums __ Show-specific literature
__ Sales staff incentive programs __ Live presenters, actors __ Audio and video equipment
__After-show Promotion __ Design __ Letter writing
__ Literature __ Printing __ Assembly
__ Postage __ Telemarketing __ Sales force calls
__ Premiums __ Sales force incentive programs __ After-show survey

Show Survival Kit Checklist
Here's a list of things you'll likely use in your exhibit, or really wish you had. Decide which you ones you plan to bring with you, and which you will to buy, if necessary, on the spot.
__Credit card with a high spending limit __Spare light bulbs for your lighting fixtures
__Cooler with bottled water and beverages __Software disks for computers
__Spare parts for your modular exhibit __Lint brush
__Small vacuum cleaner Tool kit __ Hammer
__ Adjustable wrench __ Needle-nose pliers
__ Standard pliers __ Screwdrivers
__ Standard __ Phillips
__ Hex wrench (if used in your exhibit) __ Measuring tape __Scissors
__Stapler and staples __Post-it note pads __Message pads
__Pens __Permanent felt-tip pens
__Sticky labels (for shipping, cartons labeling) __Tape
__ cellophane tape and dispenser __ masking tape __ carton tape
__ strapping tape __ duct tape or gaffers tape
__ double sided tape __Velcro __Glue
__ super glue __ white glue __ Duco cement
__ contact cement __Wire Cleaners
__ glass cleaner __ general purpose spray cleaner __ acetone
__ mineral spirits __ furniture polish __ carpet spot cleaner
__Clean cloth rags __Paper towels
__Utility knife and spare blades __Sandpaper
__Assorted nails __Thumb tacks & push pins
__First aid kit __ Ibuprofin __ Antacid
__ Band-Aids __ Moleskin (for foot blisters)
__Extension cords __Power outlet strips

Trade Show "Give Aways" That Work
Premiums and incentives have been a staple of the trade show business since the beginning of civilized sales. The polite term is "advertising specialties." Call them what they really are: "bribes." Show visitors’ offices are littered with pens, coffee mugs, note pads, and other "trash and trinkets" (another term often heard in the trade show world).
You’ve been to shows, swiped goodies from the candy jars, collected a bag of trash and treasures, and then taken them home to either throw them away or give to the kids. Now ask yourself what impact these give-aways had on your buying decision?

If you choose to use a give-away, make sure that you’re trading the prize for your visitor’s name, address, and phone number.

Any advertising specialty item should reflect the quality of your services and the good reputation of your firm. You don’t want your logo on a cheap pen that doesn’t write. There is a subconscious discounting of who you are when a visitor throws away something you’ve given them.

Your premium should be something genuinely useful, and it should be kept in a place where the prospect will refer to it when they have need of your service. A good example is the Domino’s Pizza refrigerator magnet. You come home, nothing in the fridge, call Domino’s delivery. If you can’t position your give-away effectively, don’t use it.
The best premiums are those that help your visitor get their job done faster or better. They have a high perceived value, and cost you very little to reproduce. Information premiums have the highest perceived value and the lowest relative reproduction cost. Examples are reprints of articles, special reports, audio and video tapes, computer software, and books. Such premiums self-select your prime prospects, because they are of little use to the general public.

An effective premium is a laminated wallet card covered with valuable reference information that your customers use regularly. For example, a Century 21 office in Denver gives out a three-fold city street guide that doubles as their business card. Spectranetics, a company who builds lasers for clearing arterial blockages, created a plastic wallet card summarizing the recommended treatment options for various patient conditions. The cardiologist can discretely review the technical details of the procedure before scrubbing up. A welding equipment distributor gives out wallet cards with recommended amperage settings for welding a variety of alloys.

One of the most effective promotions I’ve ever seen is a laminated wallet card that includes the "Trade Show Success Checklist." It includes valuable information that any trade show exhibitor will need. It’s a reminder of what the firm does (sets up trade show booths), and the contact information is included, discretely, so that clients can easily call with their questions.
The next best premium is,
• Something that a visitor wants
• Or helps them do a better job
• But they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves
• Or their organization wouldn’t buy it for them,
• And is specialized enough to self-qualify them as a potential buyer.

Specialized tools make excellent premiums. For example, a dive table card for scuba enthusiasts, or a plastic slide rule for landscapers used to calculate application rates for fertilizer. Another example is a wine selection book for a meeting planner, or a keyboard-mounted calculator for a computer programmer.

If you decide to use premiums, select something meaningful and useful to your customer or prospect and then use it as a parting gift. Say, "Thank you for stopping by. Here’s something for you to take with you as a thank you for your time. We’ll talk after the show." Insist on making your give-away work hard to get you sales.
How are you going to give it away?

You can also use a controlled give-away to attract visitors and qualify them. Some of the most desirable give-aways are apparel items like T-shirts, hats, and sunglasses. Ask the visitor to complete a survey, a questionnaire, or have them listen to a presentation to qualify for the prize.

Professional association shows often prohibit certain give-away items like food, candy, newspapers, posters, T-shirts, bags, and novelties. Ask show management what you’re permitted to do before ordering 10,000 imprinted Frisbees®.

Don’t get caught in the "Bag Wars," where others give away better quality bags than you do. So you move up to more expensive bags, and they counter with even more expensive bags, and then, what’s the point? Bags seem attractive for two reasons: everybody wants one, and they become walking billboards. The problem is that they fail the prime criteria for self-selection and value after the show. I suggest avoiding bags and containers altogether! The only really effective bag promotion I’ve ever seen was when United Parcel Service distributed specially designed bags, offering to ship them back to the visitor’s office at the end of the show (for a fee!)

Why your candy bowl turns visitors into thieves
When you set up a candy bowl or offer other trivial give-aways to all visitors, you actually turn visitors into thieves. You’ve seen them; they sneak up, take a piece of candy, and sneak off, avoiding eye contact. If you do make eye contact, they say, "Hi-how-are-you," and move away at full speed.

A candy bowl really doesn’t add any value in getting the right visitors into your exhibit, and it takes up valuable exhibit space. An exception, of course, is if you sell candy and you’re giving away samples. How many times have you been asked, "Can I have another for my kids?" You have to say, "Yes" or you look like a jerk. Then they ask you what you do, and you have to do your pitch so they don‘t feel bad taking your stuff.
Everything in your exhibit has to work to get you business. If your give-away doesn’t buy you customers, don’t give it away. Otherwise you’re throwing away your money that could be put to good use closing sales.

Drawings and Prizes
Avoid gimmicky promotions like "pop the balloon," or "miniature golf" because they waste time and money with people who will never do business with you. Perhaps you’ve seen these acrylic "grab the bucks" boxes with cash blowing around inside. This type of promotion will attract everyone. That may be appropriate for your business, but more likely, you’re just blowing your cash.

If collecting names for your mailing list is one of your marketing goals, hold a drawing to give something away. Consider giving away smaller prizes more often throughout the day versus a bigger, single prize at the end of the show. More visitors will drop their name and address in your fishbowl when they think there is a reasonable chance to win a prize.

These contests, like advertising specialties, should self-select for qualified prospects. At a consumer electronics show, two competitors were both selling refurbished toner cartridges. The first vendor put out a fishbowl with a sign, "Drop your business card to win a COLOR TV!" The competitor put out a fishbowl with a sign, "Drop your business card to win a FREE TONER CARTRIDGE!" Which stack of leads would you rather take home?

If you want all the names possible from the visitors at the show, consider not going at all. Instead buy the registration list, if the show offers it. If it’s an association show, you either rent the membership list, or get it when you join. You may be even better off skipping the registration list and buying a good proven mailing list to your target customers.

The Wrong Way to Use Incentives
Unqualified give-aways mean you collect unqualified leads your sales force won’t follow up. Unqualified leads come from give-away items that attract every visitor, whether they can buy from you or not.

Draw for something that is only interesting to visitors with whom you can do business. Never give away things that are of general interest like stereo equipment, travel, cameras, or TVs. Save those for your sales contests.
As a professional, lawyer, physician, accountant, consultant, or trainer, you could give away an hour of your services. Yes, you’ll get some unqualified leads, but the number will be much lower than if you were giving away a Hawaiian vacation.
At smaller, specialty conferences, you may want to consider drawing for various levels of prizes, including airfare, room and board, and registration fee for the next conference. Make sure the incentive brings the winner back to next year’s show.

Pick your winners
Never imply that the drawing is random. Strategically choose your winners to help achieve your marketing goals. You might choose to have your top ten customers win, or your top 50 prospects. You may even choose to have everyone win the drawing. Use the winning notification as an excuse to contact a buyer.

A Tradeshow Timeline For Success
A year in advance of the show
• Send a spy to the same show make sure the people you want to sell to attend in numbers that make the investment worthwhile.
• Contact show management for the exhibitor kit.
• Review shows’ suitability.
• Work up preliminary budget, padded by 10 - 20%.
• Reserve exhibit space.
• Signed and return contracts.
• Reserve hotel suite space.
• Find out how your company can lead some of next year’s educational sessions.

6 Months in Advance of the Show
• Check to see if you can get a better location because someone’s dropped out of the show. Do this monthly until the show date.
• Confirm your company’s participation in the educational seminars.

4 Months in Advance of the Show
• Budget and planning meeting. Bring together the departments involved to set show goals, assign responsibilities and accountability, and finalize budget.
• Develop message and theme, integrated with other marketing plans.
• Create pre-show promotion plan.
• Select sales, technical, and support staff.
• Review the exhibitor kit to understand show deadlines.
• Book hotel rooms for the staff. Confirm hotel suite.

3 Months in Advance of the Show
• Plan exhibit layout and design.
• Develop graphics design requirements.
• Develop a media kit and promotion strategy.
• Plan staff training session.
• Get company details to show management for show directory.
• If an outside contractor is used, schedule labor for exhibit installation and dismantling labor. Alert show management.
• Send pre-show media releases.
• Update advertising and newsletters to include show details.
• Order premiums now to avoid rush charges and express freight charges.

2 Months in Advance of the Show
• Confirm staff participation and scheduling. If hiring temporary help, confirm arrangements.
• Confirm graphics design is on schedule.
• Confirm exhibit construction is on schedule.
• Check travel, liability, theft, and catastrophe insurance coverage.
• Plan travel itineraries and book airline tickets for the staff with the most predictable travel schedule.
• Make ground transportation arrangements.
• Order on-site show services.
• Create back-up show services vendor list.
• Request visitor information package from convention and visitors bureau for "survival manual."

4 weeks before
• Develop demonstrations.
• Create lead form and database template.
• Create follow-up package.
• Write and test follow-up letters.
• Write follow-up telemarketing script.
• Complete exhibit construction.
• Complete educational seminar handout materials and graphics.
• Check literature; are quantities adequate for follow-up?

3 weeks before
• Mail pre-show promotions to arrive 10 to 14 days before the show.
• Schedule inbound and outbound freight.

2 weeks before
• Confirm on-site show services.
• Confirm travel arrangements for all staff.
• Create "survival manual."
• Assemble survival kit.
• Package and ship materials to show by traceable carrier.

1 week before
• Final all-hands staff meeting and training.
• Get enough rest. You’ll need your energy for the show.
• Staff and stock hotel suite.
• Pick up badges.
• Train temporary help.
• Conduct daily staff meetings.
• Process leads daily.

1 week after
• Conduct after-show review - discuss what went well and what gets changed for the next show.
• Deliver staff recognition and awards.
• Follow up with leads.
• Send thank-you notes.
• Close sales.

2 weeks after
• Reconcile budget and review against planned budget.
• Survey publications for media coverage. Calculate value.
• Decide whether to do the show next year.

4 weeks after
1. Measure your sale results from shows activities.
2. Do a post-show survey to measure sales effectiveness.

Trade Show Glossary of terms


A/V – Audio visual support such as video monitors, sound systems or projection systems.

Advance Mailer – Promotional literature sent to prospective attendees prior to an events opening.

Advance Order – An order for show services sent to the service contractor before move-in. Usually less expensive than a Floor Order.

Air Freight – Goods shipped via airplane.

Aisle – Area for audience traffic movement.

Aisle Signs – Signs, usually suspended, indicating aisle numbers or letters.

Assembly – The process of erecting display component parts into a complete exhibit.

Attendee – A visitor to the exposition, a potential buyer or customer.

Authorized Signature – Signature of a person who is authorized to execute a binding legal agreement.


Backwall – Panel arrangement at rear of booth area.

Badges – A form of identification. Every exhibitor and attendee must wear a badge when on the show floor.

Banner – A suspended decorative or communicative panel, usually a vinyl or cloth structure.

Bill of Lading – A document that established the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company under which freight is to be moved between specified points for a specified charge. Also referred to as a Packing List or Waybill.

Blanket Wrap – Uncrated goods covered with blankets or other protective padding and shipped via van line. Also called Pad Wrap.

Blueprint – A scale drawing of booth space layout, construction, and specifications.

Booth – A display designed to showcase an exhibitor’s products, message and business ideas.

Booth Number – Number designated by show management for each exhibitor’s space.

Booth Personnel – Staff assigned to represent exhibiting company in assigned space.

Booth Size – Measure of assigned space. Can be represented by the booth dimensions (i.e. 10’ x 10’) or by square feet (i.e. 100 sq. ft.).

Booth Space – The amount of floor area occupied by an exhibitor.

Bone Yard – An area used by show management to store exhibitors’ packing materials, decorators’ extra furniture and any other equipment not being used during show hours.


Call for Presentations – Used by associations and organizations as a formal method of asking for and screening suitable presentation topics for use in the conference sessions.

Certificate of Inspection – A document certifying that merchandise was in good condition immediately prior to it’s shipment.

Certificate of Insurance – Statement issued by an insurance company that outlines the limits of insurance coverage held by the insured.

Collective Agreement – A contract between an employer and a union specifying the terms and conditions for employment, the status of the union, and the process for settling disputes during the contract period. Also known as Labor Agreement, Union Contract.

Column – A pillar in an exposition facility that supports the roof or other structures. Usually denoted on floor plan as a solid square or dot.

Conference – Educational and informational seminars generally held in conjunction with an

Consumer Show – An exposition that is open to the public showing what are generally known as consumer products. (NEXPO is a Trade Show not a Consumer Show.)

Contractor – An individual providing services to a trade show and/or its exhibitors. May be Official Contractor (Freeman Decorating) or independent (Exhibitor Appointed Contractor-EAC).

Convention Center – A facility where expositions and/or conferences are held.

Corner Booth – An exhibit space with exposure on at least two aisles.

Crating List – A document that names the contents of a crate, i.e. exhibit pieces, carpet, signage, etc.

Cross Aisle – An aisle at a right angle to the main aisle.

Customs – The authorities designated to collect duties levied by a country on imports and exports. The term also applies to the procedures involved in such collection.

CWT – Hundredweight. A drayage weight measurement for exhibit freight equaling 100 pounds.


Declared Value – A shipper’s stated dollar value for the contents of a shipment.

Decorating – Dressing up exhibition with carpet, draping, plants, etc.

Decorator – An individual or company providing installation and dismantling of exhibits and booth and hall dressing services for a trade show and/or its exhibitors.

Deferred Freight – Long haul freight that waits (usually one to two days) for available cargo space, shipped at a reduced rate.

Demonstrators – Persons hired to illustrate or explain products.

Dismantling – The process of tearing down, packing up and moving out exhibit materials after show closes.

Dock – A place where freight is loaded onto and taken from vehicles. Also referred to a loading dock.

Down-Size – When an exhibitor reduces the size of its total exhibit space (i.e. having a 400 square foot space and moving to a 200 square foot space).

Double Decker – Two-storied exhibit. Also called a Multiple Story Exhibit.

Double-Time – Refers to a pay rate for work performed beyond straight time and over-time. Double-time is double the normal hourly rate.

Drayage – Delivery of exhibit materials from the loading dock to assigned space, removal or empty crates, returning crates at end of show for recrating and deliverying materials for carrier loading.

Duty – A tax imposed on imports by the customers authority of a country. Duties are generally based on the value of goods (ad valorem duties), some other factor such as weight or quantity (specific duties), or a combination of value and other factors (compound duty).


EAC – Exhibitor Appointed Contractor.

Exhibit Hall – The area in the convention center where the exhibits are located.

Exhibit Manager – Person in charge of an exhibitor’s display in a trade show.

Exhibitor Appointed Contractor – A contractor who is under contract with and provides production, installation and dismantling services of a display for a specific exhibitor.

Exhibitor Prospectus – Promotional brochure sent to prospective exhibitors by show management to encourage participation in a trade show.

Exhibitor Service Manual – Binder sent to exhibitors containing show rules, information and forms for logistical services such as electrical, carpeting, decorating, etc.

EXPOCARD Reader – A device that electronically reads an attendee’s name and demographics for use by exhibitor in post-show lead follow-up.

Exposition – An event in which products or services are exhibitied. Also referred to as Exhibition, Expo, Trade Show, and Trade Fair.


Floor Manager – Individual representing show management who is responsible to overseeing all or part of the exhibition area. They are also available to answer questions related to the show floor, show hours and show services and act as the liaison between exhibitors and Freeman Service Desk.

Floor Marking – Method of indicating the boundaries of each booth space.

Floor Order – Order for services placed by the exhibitor with the service contractor after exhibit setup begins. Usually more expensive than an Advance Order.

Floor Plan – A map showing the layout of exhibit spaces.

Follow-Up – To send literature or other information and/or have representatives call on prospects identified at a trade show.

Freight – Exhibit properties, products and other materials shipped for an exhibit.

Freight Desk – At a show, a specific location where inbound and outbound exhibit materials are handled.


Giveaways – Promotional items, ranging from key rings to expensive pens, with a firm’s name and/or advertising message. Also referred to as advertising specialties and “tshatshkes” (pronounced chotch-keys).

Graphics – Communicative elements – color, copy, art, photographs, etc., used to illustrate a booth theme or décor.

Gross Square Feet – Total space available in exhibit hall as compared to net square feet, usable exhibit space, or occupied exhibit space.


Hall – A generic term for an Exposition Facility. May also refer to an individual area within a facility, such as Hall A or Halls A-C.

Hardwall – A type of exhibit construction in which the walls are of a solid material, rather than fabric.

Header – A sign or other structure across the top of an exhibit. Usually displays company name.

Hospitality – An event or gathering usually separate from the exhibit, in which refreshments are served and exhibitor personnel and invited guests socialize.

Hotel Cut-Off Date – The date agreed to in the housing contract when the hotel is no longer obligated to honor the room block or group rate, usually 30 days prior to the show.


I&D – Installation and dismantle of an exhibit.

Infringement – Use of floor space outside exclusive booth area, or breaking of the official rules and regulations.

In-Line Booth – Exhibit space with exhibit booths on both sides and behind, or backing up to a wall. This type of booth will generally have only one exhibit side open to an aisle.

Installation – The process of moving booth materials into exhibit hall and setting up for display.

Insurance Policy – A contract between an exhibitor and an insurance company securing payment of a sum of money in the event of loss or damage.

Interactive Exhibits – Exhibits in which the visitor is involved with the exhibit in a proactive way.

Island Exhibit – An exhibit space with aisles on all four sides.


Kiosk – A small structure, open on one or more sides, for the display of a product or for use as an information station or for material distribution.


Labor – For shows, refers to contracted workers who perform services.

Lead – The demographic information retrieved from visitors to your booth which helps you determine that person’s intent to buy your product/services. A tool to help your sales force close the sale.

Liability – Legal issue of who is responsible for damage or injuries.

Linear Display – Another term for an in-line exhibit space.

Logo – A trademark or symbol, unique to each company.


Mailing Lists – A list of contact names and addresses to use for marketing purposes. These lists can be obtained by gathering information on-site, or purchasing or renting from an agency or company.

Make Ready – To mount or prepare artwork for photography or reproduction, i.e. make camera-ready.

Modular – Structural elements that are interchangable. Allows for maximum flexibility in arrangement and size.

Move-In – Dates set for installation of exhibits.

Move-Out – Dates set for dismantling of exhibits.


Net Square Feet – The amount of space occupied by exhibits in a facility, not including aisles, registration areas, public areas, etc.

No-Show – A scheduled exhibitor who does not show up to claim booth space or ordered services.


Objectives – Statement of expected achievements in a marketing event.

Official Program & Exhibitor Directory – Program book distributed to attendees and exhibitors, listing information about the show, conferences sessions and provides a listing of the exhibitors and services offered.

On-Site – Location of exhibits or projects.

Over-Time – Refers to work performed beyond what is considered a standard business day. Over-time labor is paid at time and a half.


Packing List – A list included with a shipment showing the number and kinds of items being shipped, as well as other information needed for transportation purposes. Also referred to as a Bill of Lading or Waybill.

Pallet – Wooden platform used to support machinery or a collection of objects for easier handling. Also thick wood blocks attached to crates that allow forklift access for easier handling.

Pavillion – A group presentation of different companies for the purpose of generating collected impact.

Peninsula – An exhibit area with aisles on three sides.

Perimeter Booth – Exhibit space located on an outside wall within the hall.

Pipe and Drape – Pipe material with fabric draped from it to make up side rails and backwall of an exhibit booth.

Pop-up Booth – A term generally referring to a booth that requires minimal tools to set up and is set up by the exhibitor.

Portable Exhibits – Lightweight, crated display units that do not require forklifts to move.

Post-Show – Refers to any activity that occurs following the closing of the event.

Pre-Show – Refers to any activity that occurs prior to the show opening.

Press Room – Location on-site where members of the media can obtain press releases, product announcements and other materials, write stories, conduct interviews, make phone calls and place stories.

Press Release – An article intended for use by the media about a company, product, service or individual.

Priority Point System – Method of assigning booth space. For NEXPO the system is based on the number of years a company has been exhibiting, sponsorship dollars and size of the booth.

Proof – Any preliminary reproduction by photography, typesetting or lithography, provided by processor for approval prior to finished product.


Qualifying – The act of determining an exhibit visitor’s authority to purchase or recommend a product or service on display.


Raw Space – The actual space for an exhibit with no furnishings or decoration. In-line spaces do included a pipe-and-drape back wall and side rails.

ROI (Return on Investment) – Measurement of how much benefit a company receives from participation in a trade show. Broadest example formula: income – costs = ROI.

Registration – Process of obtaining demographic information from an attendee in exchange for an entrance badge to the show. An exhibitor will also register its booth personnel in order to obtain exhibitor badges.

Right-to-Work State – Where joining a union is not a condition of employment. In right-to-work states, exhibitors do not have to use union laborers.


Self-Contained Exhibit – A display that is an integral part of the shipping case.

Service Desk – A centrally located service area in which exhibitors can order or reconfirm the services provided by exposition management such as electrical, decorating, telecommunications, etc.

Show Daily – A daily publication produced on-site that offers articles on exhibitors, their products/services and show activities. For NEXPO it’s referred to as the TechNews Show Daily.

Show Decorator – Company or individual responsible for hall draping, aisle carpeting and signage. Performs same service to individual exhibitors.

Show Office – Show management office at the exhibition.

Shrink Wrap – Process of wrapping loose items on pallet with heat-sealed, transparent plastic wrapping.

Side Rail – A low divider panel used to separate an exhibit space from an adjacent area.

Space Rate – Cost per square foot for exhibit space.

Special Handling – Requiring extra labor, equipment or time in delivery to booth area.

Staging Area – A place for collection of materials, components, delivery units, etc.

Straight Time – The hours considered normal business hours.


Table Top Display – Exhibit designed for use on top of counter, bench or table.

Trade Show – An exhibition held for members of a common or related industry.

Traffic Flow – A common or directed path the audience will take through an exposition or exhibit.


Union – An organization of workers formed for mutual benefit and for the purpose of dealing collectively with their employer in wages, hours, working conditions and other matters pertaining to their employment.

Union Steward – On-site union official.

Unit – The smallest amount of space available for rent. For NEXPO a unit will be one 10’x10’ booth.


Waitlist – A list of companies which are either interested in obtaining exhibit space, or relocating to a different space, but for whom no such space is yet available.

Waybill – List of enclosed goods and shipping instructions, sent with material in transit.

Work Time – Paid time that begins as soon as the workers report to the exhibitor. Stops when the exhibitor releases them from work.