Trade shows can be complicated animals to wrangle. Here's a quick reference guide.
The location on the trade show website where all the resources are held to help you plan the show.
Exhibitor Service Kit/Exhibitor Service Guide
The master book, provided by the trade show, that will provide all rules, forms and regulations for your booth. It will have order forms for catering, furniture, shipping and staff. It will also provide you with deadlines, schedules, checklists and contacts. This is your bible to hosting a booth at the chosen convention centre.
A layout of all the vendors and their booths. Some trade shows will include a move-in/move-out guide while others provide that in a separate document.
Booth Badges and Invitations
Most shows will offer the exhibitor complimentary badges and invitations, depending on the size of their booth. Booth badges are all-access passes that allows exhibitor employees to have access to the show floor at all hours. Save these passes for those who will be needing access to your booth. Booth invitations provide exhibitors a way to give their guests complimentary invites. These usually allow limited access to the event.
When it comes to a major tradeshow, companies will try to capitalize where they can. Unauthorized companies who are not official vendors may contact you offering directory services or show services. These are a scam. If you're concerned about an e-mail, forward it to your show contact or check the show warnings.
Binder of Wonder (BOW)
Create a binder that has all order forms, deliverables and information on every aspect of the show. This would include reservations, orders that were made and forms that have been approved. Everything you've done and need for the trade show should be in this binder. It should accompany tradeshow personnel to the expo. Use tabs to help organize into sections for reference points.
Create three spreadsheets, the first with general information like show hours, location and shipping. This will serve as a quick reference. Second, a spreadsheet of the inventory that you'll be taking to the show. This will include tools, utensils, cleaning supplies -- all those odds and ends. Third, a spreadsheet of deliverables. This should be a list of everything that you've ordered. Promotional items, catering schedule, service schedule, staff schedule. These sheets will serve as a general overview.
Most expos offer exhibitors sponsorship opportunities that allow them to promote their business/services throughout the show. The opportunities are endless, from hotel key cards, to sponsoring a meal during an awards gala (e.g. providing the company's ingredients or recipe for the dish), to being able to brand the reception desk.
Shows usually have a program that contains a show schedule, articles from some of their top exhibitors (and spenders!) and a directory of all vendors. Ad space in the program is usually available to buy.
New Product Showcase
Some shows offer the ability to showcase certain products at an additional cost. They typically include an ad of some sort, a call-out and a physical location for people to see the product.
SHIPPING AND SERVICES
Also known as a Truck Staging Area. This is where delivery trucks wait to unload an exhibitor's items, such as a booth or product. Generally, trucks can wait here anywhere from one to 18 hours waiting to unload. In your exhibitor service kit, there will usually be directions or a map on procedures (it varies from centre to centre). You'll want to send this to your driver. Most shows offer exhibitors the ability to skip the marshaling yard if they can either carry their booth, or bring in all booth materials on a dolly. Check your exhibitor service kit for more information.
Exhibitor Appointed Contractors
If you're hiring outside companies that are not official vendors for the show, you will need to fill out an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor form in order for them to work in your booth. Exhibiting company personnel are exempt from this form.
Shows will offer an advance warehouse location where exhibitors can store their booth starting from six weeks to two months in advance of the trade show. This helps prevent long waits for the person delivering items in the marshaling yard, thus reducing delivery costs.
Direct to Show Site
Exhibitors can also ship direct to the show site and not have to worry about paying for booth storage. Sometimes this may cost more, so check the pricing in the exhibitor service guide.