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5 Big Surprises For Canadian Exhibitors Going to USA Trade Shows

Whether you work at a Canadian company that already participates in a trade show in the USA or are thinking of getting into the US market, here are exhibiting facts that may surprise you:



1. Almost All USA Trade Shows Require Union Labor
Almost ALL of the USA trade shows require you to use union labor.  This is by far the biggest surprise that hits my Toronto trade show clients when they exhibit south of the Canadian border for the first time. This is not flexible or negotiable; it just is what it is. While some shows have rules allowing you to do under 30 minutes of work, if done without tools, most exhibitors will still have to pay to have a union employee set up their booth.  And of course, with union labor come higher costs and more complexity in arranging set up times.

2. You Are Not Required To Use the USA Show’s General Contractor For Union Labor
Even though you have to use union labor, that doesn’t mean you have to use the labor provided by the show.  You can appoint your own labor crew, especially useful if that labor crew is more familiar with your exhibit.  They are called an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor, or EAC.  You as the exhibitor only need to submit an EAC request form at least 30 days before the show.  You can get access to this form on the show’s website.  A great article from Exhibitor Online describes the types of labor contractors found in the USA Name That Contractor.

Whoever you use as your exhibit provider, whether on this side or the USA side of the border, ask them:  Do you have your own qualified unionized installers?  You will be surprised at how many trade show companies indeed have their own qualified teams.  If yes – GREAT, get a quote and save valuable dollars on using this outside team.  If not, look for one!  Google “install / dismantle trade show booths” with the area you are exhibiting and see what teams come up.  Call them, ask for references, check their website for jobs done in past.

3. You Are Not Required To Rent From a USA Show’s Other Vendors
There is a HUGE misconception that you are required to use the show’s other vendors, such as for furniture rentals, AV rentals and more.  The simple fact is this is not the case.  So you may be able to get other sources for these trade show services, too.

4. It Is Harder To Find Your Exhibit & Crates Sent To A USA Advance Warehouse
When you are at a Canadian show, if you need to find your crates (either filled or empty) before or during the show, we all are fairly relaxed here so you can stroll into the crate storage area and get at your crates.  However, in the USA, it can be much harder to find your crates, especially if they are in a marshalling yard, which can either be inaccessible or even physically removed from from the trade show convention center.

5. You Can Avoid The Cost & Hassle Of Shipping And Customs When Exhibiting at a Trade Show in the USA
This brings us to our next point and one of the most VALUABLE for you to take away.  There are so many pieces to consider when crossing the border to exhibit, shipping and customs just being a couple of them.  Did you know you have the option to RENT your exhibit? Yes, trade show displays are available to rent and customize with your own company branded graphics so you stand out on the show floor but don’t have the hassle of shipping and customs.

I know, I know you are thinking “Yeah, I have seen those booth rentals where everyone looks the same and that just isn’t for me.”  Well, GUESS WHAT?  You can work with your trade show exhibit company on a rental just for you, that is NOT provided by the show, and that helps you stand out on the exhibit floor.  The rental can be designed by a local, Canadian trade show company and ship to the show from the U.S. as if it was your own booth, minus the extra shipping and customs.  Yes, true story – we help our Toronto customers do this every month!

These are 5 of the most common surprises our Toronto customers experience.  Now you can avoid those surprises, and also have a smoother and better trade show experience at your new show in the United States. Good luck and Happy Exhibiting!

About the Author

Since 2006, Sandra Kennedy has been an energetic and customer-focused Exhibit Consultant at Skyline Exhibits Greater Toronto Area. Sandra assists her Toronto trade show displays clients to generate the best trade show ROI with design vision, marketing strategies, and deep industry knowledge. She and the team in Mississauga provide design, project management, asset management and logistical support to help exhibitors of all sizes bring their brand to the forefront of their market.

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