Archive for December, 2008

Cherish every moment of life

I keep trying to stay on topic, but I seem to be dealing with a lot of curve balls lately.  My husband believes that bad news comes in threes so after his Mom’s house was robbed and our good friend got mugged he was sure that the nagging pain in his gut was something serious, the third ominous issue. As we waited for the results of his blood tests we were not prepared for the call from  Wickenburg telling us that my Dad  had just died of a heart attack.  A short, gregarious Italian, Pete Matastasio had survived two previous heart attacks and a quadruple bypass. He didn’t let that sideline his zest for life and continued to live it without the restrictions the doctors recommended.  He retired from 60 years of manual work including a career as a welder, then moved to Wickenburg in 2004.  He spent his last very happy years prospecting for gold on the Arizona desert.  He was quite successful leaving behind an impressive box filled with vials of gold slivers and numerous nuggets.  We knew he was not feeling that great, but he kept quiet about the stabbing pains in his chest and arms because he knew if he called me I would cart him off to the doctor.  He vowed never to go back to the hospital again.  He refused to end his life hooked up to wires and gadgets and bottles of fluids dripping into his arm.  He would have preferred to pass on while at his favorite digging site, but at least he did not suffer.  Death stinks.  If you are facing sadness, illness or death of a loved one this holiday season my heart goes out to you.  Cherish every moment of life and give thanks that you are still around to enjoy it.

Merry Christmas


Cost Cutting tips in your exhibitor kit

Everyone is pulling in the reigns on spending so now is the time to revisit some basic ways to cut expenses from your next tradeshow budget.  Exhibit marketing is a team effort. The team extends beyond your sales and marketing departments and includes the tradeshow promoter and the convention services company too.  As your tradeshow schedule expands around the country it is wise to cultivate a close relationships with the various exposition services that dominate the industry. 

Here in Arizona one of the more innovative and receptive suppliers is Modern Expositions  Their General Manager, Randy Breen, is a hands-on leader who brings many years of experience in the planning, production and execution of tradeshows to this convention services organization.  Customer service is at the top of his list of priorities. He knows from the tradeshow floor level what an exhibitor needs to be successful and his competent crew delivers efficient, helpful assistance.  Give Randy a call.  If he can’t help you he knows a company who can.

Here is some information that will assist you in getting the most from your service providers and shipping company.  Understanding your exhibitor Kit will save you money and headaches.

Your exhibitor kit

When you make a commitment to exhibit in an expo, you will receive an exhibitor’s kit from the promoter or the show decorator that is managing the event. It may be mailed as a hard copy, but most likely will be accessible on line. When the exhibitor kit is available on a website you have the opportunity to read the entire kit, but only print those forms you need.

The kit will consist of page after page of instructions, restrictions and rules you must follow as an exhibitor. It will also include helpful information, critical deadlines and important order forms that, if read and followed in a timely manner, will save you time, money and headaches.  I suggest you create an on site book for every show.  This can be a folder or a binder that will have copies of all the pertinent documents, signed forms, authorizations, certificates, contact persons, billing information and payment permissions for everything you need.  Document all communications with everyone pertaining to the show and keep all their contact information in this file for easy reference.    Following are some of the most important areas of information covered in the kit.

Installation and Dismantle

In the kit there will be specific times assigned to your company for setting up and taking down your display. This is particularly important due to the enormous number of companies that must bring in exhibits through the loading docks. If the show is local and you have a portable exhibit you will be setting up by yourself, you might be permitted to drive your vehicle onto the dock and unload your merchandise, but you must then remove and park your vehicle before you can return to take your things to your booth. If you are shipping exhibit materials, you will need to make arrangements for services such as warehousing, delivery, drayage and labor.  Each is explained in detail below.

Union Labor

In many states, labor unions rule the trade show convention halls and you cannot so much as plug in a light fixture without paying a union worker. You are permitted to set up your booth by yourself, provided one person can do so in thirty minutes or less with no tools. This time restriction is unrealistic for most exhibitors.  Otherwise, you must consent to use union workers and the documentation outlining rates and rules will be provided in the Exhibitor Kit. Union rates are usually very expensive averaging $75 per hour, per worker during regular day hours, increasing to overtime after 4:00 PM and time and a half on weekends and holidays.  Along with the labor rates comes the cost of equipment rentals. If you need to place a header on your center kiosk you might need a forklift.  To hang shelves you might need to rent a ladder.  Hanging signs above an exhibit will require a scissor lift.  The use of any of the show services equipment necessary to complete your installation and dismantle will result in a charge to you.

If you cannot or do not wish to set up your exhibit yourself, and don’t want to pay union labor there is a very important page in your exhibitor kit you will want to pull out as soon as possible.  It is the Non-Official Contractor form.  This form allows you to hire an outside company of your choice. These non-official contractors must present certain business information and provide a certificate of insurance to the convention services company or decorator, in charge of the show. When you arrange for labor you are taking money out of the pockets of the convention services company so rules and deadlines must be strictly followed.  The non official contractor paperwork must be in the hands of the decorator thirty days before the show so make it a point to send it well in advance of the deadline to prevent any problems.  Keep copies and records of all paperwork and communications.  Call to confirm you’re your documents were received by show management, because if they do not have a copy on file by the due date, then your contract labor or staff will not be permitted to erect your display and you will be forced to pay the labor rates of the contractor.


Save money on installation & dismantle services

Pack several sets of setup instructions inside your exhibit cases. Include pictures of the completed booth in all configurations you normally use.  Take pictures from several different angles for clarity.  Show details of where counters, shelves, monitors and computers are located. Include pictures of all graphic applications and where graphics should be mounted.  Send along a touch up kit with paint, cleaning supplies, rags, assembly tools and a hand vacuum.  Get the cell phone number of any contract laborers or supervisor and give them yours. Make sure a dependable staff member sets a time to meet the exhibit installers to confirm the proper booth configuration and graphic positioning.  Hiring your own installation supervisor would be wise.  If the laborers set up your exhibit incorrectly or different from your preference because there were no instructions in the crates or they were difficult to decipher it could be very costly to take it down and reinstall everything.

If you wish to ship your crates and containers of show materials in advance, you will need to contract drayage services. Drayage is the service of moving your freight from the loading dock to your booth space then picking up your empty shippers, storing them and returning them to your booth when the show is over.  In a small event at a hotel you may be permitted to store a few cases behind your booth or under a table, but this will not be the case at most convention halls.

Drayage is an expensive service, billed according to the weight of your shipments.  The fees average $1 per pound of weight with a minimum of 100lbs. The key to saving money on this service is keeping accurate documentation on the weight of your freight. If such documentation is not available, the company can weigh your containers themselves and charge fees from those numbers. Obtain a weight ticket from your freight carrier and always check it against the drayage bills to prevent overcharges. Ship everything in advance in one shipment to minimize weight charges.  Document everything and keep copies of all forms in a show folder and bring it with you to the show.

Electrical Service
There will be a special order form in your kit pertaining to electrical services. There is usually a separate company working with the show decorator to provide all the electrical needs.  You must calculate and determine your voltage, wattage and amp requirements before you fill out the order. It’s easy to count your watts from your bulbs in the lighting fixtures you use, but if you plan to bring video equipment, computers, or multi-media electronics, it’s best to consult your audiovisual provider or speak to the electrical contractor first. Consider the amount of electrical cords that you will need to run everything.  If there are too many thick cords that will cause a hazard if run under the carpet, you might be required to pay for a ceiling drop where the electric connection comes from above into your display.  There are new flat electrical extension cords now available too. Take advantage of special discounts by ordering early. Bring your own extension cords, converters, bulbs and attachments so you will not have to rent anything at the last minute. The electric company is only responsible for bringing service to your booth.  You will again be charged for labor to lay the lines. Do not plug in any electrical cords or run any wires without first checking with the electric supplier.  Familiarize your self with the early bird discounts and the rules in your kit and cut costs at your next event