Ahhh, who doesn’t love getting brand-new stationary products? A new package of markers or a shiny new notebook – these are a few of my favorite things.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved receiving my exhibitor kit. A shiny new two-inch-thick binder straight out of the shipping box with pages and pages of content and lots of fine print. It’s new, it’s exciting, and more than anything, it’s completely overwhelming.

Exhibitor kits will contain everything you need to make the magic happen in your booth. Did you know that there are booth fairies that come each night to tidy everything up? Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but you won’t want to forget to order vacuuming – and yeah, they really do charge that much per square foot and don’t skimp on it!

Though the kit you receive today is probably an electronic link instead of an actual binder, it contains all the same materials with all the same information. So, what’s in this magical book? Let’s look.

Forms, forms and more forms. Through your kit you’ll be able to order everything from rental booths to actors and actresses who can impersonate your CEO and welcome guests into your booth.

When you receive your kit, get a GIANT cup of coffee and take some time to familiarize yourself with all its various elements. Note your “Target Date” (more on this in my next post), the advance warehouse and on-site shipping information, as well as any forms that are relevant to what you’re going to need to rent for the event including electricity, internet, carpeting (don’t forget to order padding), and labor.

Most importantly, don’t forget to review the payment forms and the due dates for your orders. By ordering online and in advance of the deadline, you can save your company as much as 30% off the standard price. For a small exhibit, you’re talking about a significant amount of money from your limited financial resources.

I was looking at the pricing for bar stools for a show my company recently participated in. The least expensive bar stool to rent was $114 per stool. Multiply this by three which is a good number for a single round high boy table and you’re already at $342 if you take advantage of the discount for ordering online.

If you don’t order online, you could be looking at paying $375 for the same three bar stools. Miss the deadline and you’re now at $480 – almost 25% over what you would have paid if you took advantage of the offered discounts.

So, you think to yourself, I could go to a big box store and buy three bar stools for a fraction of the price and I’ll have the stools for use at future events. You could, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Here’s why: Shipping and drayage. These are two of most commonly tossed about terms of the trade show industry, and they’re also two of the most mis-understood.

Shipping and drayage will likely be two of the most significant line items on your show budget and you’re going to want to manage this as closely as possible. Because these two things are so complex, I am going to be going to be diving deeper into them in future posts.

In the meantime, review your kit thoroughly and become familiar with what services are offered to you through the show. Know your due dates and deadlines, take advantage of any and all discounts opportunities, and read the fine print!

See more from Sarah


Sarah Markfield’s first job out of college was working for a firm in England that didn’t know what to do with the “Yank” that turned up on their doorstep. She was quickly assigned to manage an event in Geneva, Switzerland because she could speak French. Trade shows and events have taken Sarah all over the US and Europe. Today she manages customer communications and social media for a large print technology manufacturer and continues to work on trade show messaging, brand compliance and external communications including PR and social media.

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn

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