How Trade Shows Are Produced

Everything You Need to Know About How Trade Shows Are Produced

Discover how trade shows are produced, from show management to Exhibition Appointed Vendors, to optimize your marketing program and make a lasting impression on the exhibition floor.
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Before taking your business on the road and exhibiting at a trade show, you might have some general questions about how trade shows are produced. Questions like

  • What is the process for producing a trade event?  
  • Do people still attend/exhibit at trade shows?  
  • How does the process affect my decision to exhibit at the show?  
  • What does it take to produce my own trade show event?  

So, let’s get right down to it.  

The Trade Show and Events Industry 

Trade shows remain a staple of the American economy. If you’re wondering if anyone still attends or exhibits at trade shows, the answer is most definitely yes.

According to the 2023 IBIS Report, the trade show and event industry grew at a CAGR of .9% to $21.7 billion over the last five years (from 2019-2023), including a growth of 5% in 2023. Revenue is expected to continue growing over the next five years at a CAGR of 1.6% to $25.5 billion.  

How Trade Shows Are Produced 

Producing a trade show can get complicated—fast. However, understanding the basic steps can help tremendously. You will have more clarity and be better prepared to take your place on the trade show floor as an exhibitor or create your own show. 

Let’s delve into the key components of producing a trade show. 

1. Show Management   

The foundation of any trade show starts with show management or organizers. This is usually part of a larger group like an association. For example, the World Pet Association hosts two trade shows: SuperZoo and Groom’D.  

This team is responsible for determining the event’s industry focus, target audience, type of exhibitors, and whether to include conference components. They’re also responsible for scheduling events, hiring speakers, and distributing awards. Lastly, show management hires the general contractor to oversee the event logistics.

TRADE SHOW ROI GUIDE Exclusive insights and equations for measuring your Trade Show ROI

2. General Contractor

The general contractor (GA) plays a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth event by providing essential labor and materials. They hire show vendors such as shippers, carpet layers, florists, electricians, and drayage to keep the event running seamlessly with working lights and air conditioning throughout.  

Some general contractors include  

  • Global Experience Specialists (GES) 
  • Freeman 
  • Informa Markets 
  • The Trade Group  

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3. Show Vendors   

Show vendors are responsible for setting up the exhibition floor and individual displays. They can significantly impact your trade show marketing program due to installation and dismantling (I&D) costs.  

The choice of vendors may depend on the event’s location – some venues require you to use their vendors, while others allow more freedom in selecting your own.  

For example, let’s contrast Atlanta, GA, with Manhattan, NY. The Javits Center in New York is the traditional convention center for trade shows, and the labor unions are in control. You must use their hired vendors for I&D, whereas Atlanta, which is in a right-to-work state, allows you more freedom to bring in your own I&D team.  

4. You or Exhibition Appointed Vendors  

As an exhibitor, you’ll pay show management to reserve your booth space. From there, you can use the vendors under the general contractor for the event, or, to save time and reduce stress, you can hire your exhibit house as an Exhibition Appointed Vendor (EAV).  

The great benefit of using your exhibit house for installation is they know your booth. Especially if it’s a custom booth, your exhibit manufacturer will know all the details of booth orientation and be able to set it up faster. This greatly reduces the chances of missing components or (God forbid) the booth’s entrance facing the wrong direction.

TRADE SHOW ROI GUIDE Exclusive insights and equations for measuring your Trade Show ROI

A Fictional Example Producing a Trade Show

Let’s say the (fictional) National Association of Tile Manufacturers is wanting to create its own event to bring together companies within the sector to promote business growth. They organize the show around a theme and approach a general contractor, such as The Trade Group, to help find the best city and convention to host the event.  

Some of the factors affecting their decision may include  

  • Affordability 
  • Space capacity inside the venue  
  • Location  
  • Expected attendance and exhibitors  
  • General contractor’s capabilities  

Once the event is established, it’s up to the exhibitors to bring their A-game. In some cases, the booths will be designed and constructed by the general contractor, and companies will need to follow the GA’s guidelines.  

Finally, it’s showtime. Everything is installed, and the show floor fills up with excited attendees and eager exhibitors. That’s how the opportunities for media attention, networking, sales, and educational workshops are created.  


The Trade Group is well known for its award-winning exhibits, but many aren’t aware they offer general contracting services. We’ve acted as a GA for the 2021 and 2022 Bitcoin Conferences and several gaming conventions, including OP Live in Dallas and Pokémon World Championships.  

If you’re looking to work with a dedicated group of experts that are passionate about bringing people together through events, let us know by contacting us below! 

The Trade Group is a full-service event marketing company. We design and build award-winning exhibits and events. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585. 

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