Every tradeshow comes with its own set of contractors. It’s important for an exhibitor to get familiar early on with each show’s contractor roster in order to plan if and how many exhibitor-appointed contractors to hire. This can be a confusing part of the job as it involves very specific lingo and definitions that change for every show.
Generally, a show’s top contractor will have the title of something like general services contractor. If there is an individual “mastermind” behind show operations, this person is it.
The general service contractor gets his or her job done, in large part, by delegating tasks to subcontractors. Many of these subs are union workers and have exclusive rights to certain tasks, especially those having to do with show infrastructure (electrical, plumbing, etc.). We’ll refer to these as exclusive contractors.
It’s up to an exhibitor to do or outsource all the work that’s not taken care of by the exclusive contractors–especially setup and teardown. These tasks are often best done by exhibitor-appointed contractors. Here are five tips for working with exhibitor-appointed contractors.
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Working with An Exhibitor Appointed Contractor
A tradeshow is a big, chaotic place to be. The contractors provided by the venue may not have better things to do than help you, but they’re certainly swamped with other things to do. Having one or even a few of your own, exhibitor-appointed contractors can cut your stress in half. Much better to pay a little more and have a successful show than to drown in the second hour for lack of help, just to save some money.
At least in major tradeshow cities, there are enough contracting companies at enough price points that you should never have trouble finding one to appoint. Maybe you can even collect a series of bids and take your pick. Just don’t feel obligated to use the ones that are provided by the venue (for nonexclusive tasks, that is).
Find Your Match
Some tradeshow contractors focus their business on gathering venues or general contractors as clients. Others are “pure-play” exhibitor-appointed contractors. Don’t trust your tradeshow success to a company that says, “Yeah, I guess we can do that too.” The more specifically your service provider’s mission statement matches your needs, the better.
Form Long-Term Partnerships
Once you find an exhibitor-appointed contractor you like, do everything you can to stay in touch and use them again at the next show. See if you can find one that operates in multiple cities so you don’t have to start the search over again in every city you visit. We shop around to find quality; when we find it, we don’t let it go. Always be eliminating variables and simplifying processes.
Find a Planning Partner
The best exhibitor-appointed contractors help their clients think through the execution of their exhibits. You don’t want to have to stand on a chair on setup day shouting, “You, put that there! No, I meant there!” Find a provider that has experience and is glad to partner with you to find important nuances and obstacles that you might never think of. You want to get as close as possible to being able to say simply, “Ok, everyone! Just like we practiced! And go!”
For more trade show tips and resources, check out our trade show blog!