The most important part of a trade show's install-and-dismantle phase is the planning phase--with deciding on a labor crew coming in as a close second.
Even with diligent planning, a successful setup and teardown depend on multiple factors that can really make or break your trade show experience and even your bottom line. To help make your next event run more efficiently and improve your ROI, check out these expert tips from the field:
1. Narrow down your labor crew options.
You’ll have to make a choice between the general services contractors (GSC) and the exhibitor-appointed services (EAS) crews. If you decide to go with the GSC crew, you’ll likely find that you’ll get some special treatment throughout the event–consider it a union benefit and enjoy.
When exhibitors decide to use the services of the EAC, it is usually because of an ongoing, consistent relationship over multiple shows. Before you make a decision, consider which is more important to your organization: being in the position to request show-specific variances at a singular location, or working with the same crew multiple times, at multiple venues.
Decide in advance who is going to supervise the setup and teardown. If you won’t be handling this part of the process, you’ll either pay the supervisory fee to GSC or EAC, or have your exhibit house assign a supervisor.
2. Get to know which unions have jurisdiction over I&D.
Learn as much as possible about union regulations and labor rules, working hours, and contractual terms that stipulate worker lunch breaks and mandatory safety regulations.
3. Before placing your labor order, make a comprehensive list.
Include all the tasks involved in your I&D, and review your plans with your contractor to determine the best way to maximize your labor investment.
4. Establish a good rapport with your crew lead right off the bat.
In order to delegate assignments for maximum efficiency, don’t be afraid to let the crew lead take charge. They receive an hourly bonus known as a “kicker” for their extra trouble.
5. Take time to get to know your crew.
Attempt to get the team on the same page right from the beginning. Start setup with an orientation session complete with photos and drawings, and run through the same process for the breakdown phase.
6. Union and jurisdictional decisions should remain with the crew lead.
Your crew knows the union rules inside out, so take care to respect the union and try not to go over anyone’s head. If you need to deal with someone above your crew lead, find the show’s floor manager.
7. Aim to create a positive vibe.
Compliment laborers when they’ve done a good job, and leave performance reviews that reflect their effort when possible. Keep in mind that accepting tips can get a worker fired —so keep cash off the table.
On the other hand, if you have a bad experience, don’t get confrontational. This is where your team lead comes in—and why he receives that extra $2 kicker for being in charge.
8. For efficiency’s sake, try to work with the same crew for setup and dismantle.
When you sign out the crew at the labor desk for setup, check to see when they are available for dismantle—and plan accordingly.
9. Dismantle should be treated as a separate process.
Be sure to explain the mechanics of the process to your crew again, as well as any additional safety and security information.
If you’re looking to streamline your next trade show experience, contact the experts at Exponents for a free consultation. We offer custom exhibits, portable displays, modular booths, and full-service handling of your entire trade show project from design to install to breakdown.