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3 Tips to Save Money on Trade Show Services

Tips on Ordering Trade Show Services

How to Avoid Overpaying for Trade Show Services


Always read those Quick Facts in the show kit and thoroughly read the forms you are completing. Sometimes they contain hidden landmines. Some General Service Contractors have two deadline dates at the Advanced Receiving Warehouse. The Hanging Sign Form may have a requirement that the sign be sent to the warehouse separately with unique labels, and with a different deadline date than the booth properties in order to “guarantee” it will be installed based on the schedule. (Translation: We will probably do it on overtime.) Some of these forms actually say they will not even guarantee hanging signs not sent to the advanced warehouse by the cut-off date will be installed. Some forms even state that it doesn’t matter if you submit and pay for the order in advance, if your sign does not arrive at the advanced warehouse before the cut-off date you will be charged the standard on-site show site rate to hang your sign.

The reasoning is that is easier for General Service Contractor to install all of the pick points ahead of the event and hang the signs before the aisles fill up with exhibitor freight. It sounds reasonable in theory, but I have noticed these signs are not usually hung until after general move-in is in full swing. Whether your sign is hung in advance or not, it is helpful to know which General Service Contractors have implemented this rule when budgeting for your trade show services. When you see this requirement on the order form, it automatically means an additional expense. You will need to allow room in your budget a separate shipment for your hanging sign as well as the minimum handling fee at the advanced receiving warehouse. A professional Exhibit House like Team One should be able to tell you which General Service Contractors have implemented this rule.


When completing your service orders, try to estimate using numbers you know are lower than what the actual would be. The General Service Contractor and other “official” service providers are most interested in having your Method of Payment in place by the Deadline Date and getting that initial payment. The General Service Contractor will always charge the credit card they have on file for any residual balance due before they hand over the Outbound Bill of Lading during move-out. If you know your freight weighs 8,000 pounds estimate 4,000 or 5,000 pounds on the Material Handling Order Form.

Remember this important tip; Don’t use this trick when ordering electrical services or other utility services. If you know you need (10) 5 amp outlets and only order (5) outlets, you will be paying standard show site prices when you order the other (5) services on site. However, if the order form includes a factor that requires you to estimate charges like labor, estimate lower than what you think it should take. Paying a small balance via credit card at the end of the Show is always much easier than fighting for a credit which can sometimes take months to resolve.


When submitting your service orders before the Discount Deadline date via fax, make sure you have a fax confirmation which includes the date it was sent. If ordering online, make sure you print the order confirmation and make sure it includes the date the order was submitted. It is not unusual for the General Service Contractor to “misplace” or “lose” any record of your order. I have had them lose orders I know they received because they had already charged my credit card for the amount on that “lost” order. That fax or online order confirmation is your insurance that the discounted rates will be honored.

Make sure the first person on Show Site or your Exhibit House Supervisor arrives well in advance of the time your I&D Labor is scheduled to start and has copies of all service orders along with the fax or email confirmations. Having these copies readily available will be important if any Orders are lost will help to minimize the financial impact of work stoppages while issues with the Electrical Order (as an example) are resolved. If you are working with an Exhibit House like Team One, we can assist by completing and submitting all Show Service Order Forms on your behalf prior to the Discount Deadline Date. Many companies find the process to be easier when they hire an experienced trade show management company.

These are just a few tips that come from a lifetime spent in the exhibit industry. Each expo situation is different, and comes with its own risk of pitfalls and its own set of solutions. Team One Display Services, Inc. knows what those pitfalls are and knows exactly how to avoid them. For more information on managing trade show services you can contact a trade show company.