Exhibiting in the United States is very different to the rest of the world. There are several reasons for this, some of them practical while others are philosophical. From the way that exhibits are created, to the labor used to set them up, to the cost of a show, the fundamental differences to European and Asian exhibitions may seem daunting. However, this handy guide can help you get ready for your U.S. trade show.
U.S. exhibits tend to be comprised of modular components that are built to have an average lifespan of five years. Because exhibits are intended to be reused, they are constructed of durable materials and designed by an exhibition contractor.
Once at the show, the exhibition’s appointed labor contractor (see below) will assemble your exhibit on site by following a detailed set of instructions. There is no actual construction or painting completed on U.S. show floors.
Also, remember that, while union electricians will lay cables under flooring and install monitors and lights, any extraneous devices you have will need to be 120v (or you will need to have appropriate adaptors), which is the voltage used in the United States.
Speaking of union labor: this is where it can get complicated, especially for someone who is not used to U.S. labor union rules and regulations.
Union employees undertake almost every aspect of labor at a show. This includes installing and dismantling your trade show exhibits along with setting up trade show flooring, lighting, sound and video equipment, other electronics, signage, special effects, and more.
The U.S. labor union system is complex and, regrettably, there is very little consistency from exhibition to exhibition. The organizers of the individual exhibitions work with the labor unions to determine labor rules for each show.
The trade show organizers typically supply an exhibitor’s services manual. This should include guidelines for union and non-union labor. You can also search for labor guidelines on the exhibition website.
For more specifics about working with labor unions at trade shows, click here.
Prices are calculated in U.S. dollars and are often considerably more expensive than in Europe and Asia. These costs often include buffers to account for unknown circumstances that may arise as well as the multiple suppliers and other factors (such as drayage, see below) involved.
Trade show costs are often cited as being five times higher than other places in the world. However, the U.S. market is considered to be extremely lucrative, so the additional costs are worth it. For example, the economy for the state of Texas is nearly equal to the country of Canada.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to save some money. Read more for 10 trade show cost saving tips and tricks.
On average, 16 percent of your final trade show cost is the transportation of booth items from a carrier’s delivery vehicle to a booth space and back again. The term for this transportation is material handling or drayage.
Drayage fees are based on CWT (which is weight per 100 pounds). In the U.S., basic drayage rates can range between $85 per CWT to about $125 per CWT. There can be up to 24 different material handling categories, and these can vary from show to show.
Most trade shows process each loose item separately and calculate drayage fees using whole CWTs. This means, if you ship an item that weighs 409 pounds, you will be charged as though it weighed 500 pounds. So, be careful when packing items.
Read more for a more detailed explanation of drayage—as well as some tips for minimizing extraneous charges.
The Trade Group offers comprehensive trade show and event services and can coordinate a variety of event services for you. Give us a call at 800-343-2005 for more help on exhibiting in the U.S.