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Take the “OMG!” out of I&D

Nothing can make you lose sleep at night as much as a difficult Installation & Dismantle (I&D) experience before, during, or after a trade show. Here are 5 helpful hints that will help you avoid some of the most common headaches.

1. Do some (not so) light reading:

As painful as it may seem, you must ALWAYS take the time to read the entire Exhibitor Manual when you receive it from your conference coordinator. In terms of I&D, check not only the conference coordinator manual but the venue’s labor rules as well, just to be sure. Some venues allow you, for example, to set up a 10 x 10 on your own IF you don’t need any tools, while others won’t let you set up anything. Avoid unnecessary labor costs or problems if you were supposed to order labor.

2. Avoid Higher Prices by Ordering Early:

Most exhibit service companies offer three tiers of pricing based on when you order services such as product rentals or labor. You will usually get an early bird price and deadline, a regular price and deadline, and the dreaded ON-SITE ordering price, which can vary greatly. In terms of labor, which is already costly, be sure to always order as early as you can to avoid mark-ups.


3. Order Straight Time Labor vs. Overtime Labor:

Although sometimes this can’t be avoided due to limited set up and tear down days scheduled by the coordinators, try to schedule “straight time” labor (M-F, usually 8AM – 5PM) instead of overtime (M-F, 5PM – 8PM, Saturday, Sunday, and recognized holidays). An example is the SEMA conference, which is scheduled for November of this year. Advance pricing for straight time is $76.20 while show site pricing is $99.05. Advanced pricing for overtime is $134.95 and show site overtime is $175.45. This is a great example of why you need to pay attention to the type of labor you’re ordering.

4. Additional and Detailed Information Avoids Miscommunication:

Even though it may not be required, always provide detailed and concise set up and tear down instructions for your labor crew. Include pictures and a detailed inventory list of all of the items that are supposed to show up, whether or not you will be supervising the labor. Keep three copies of this list: send a copy with your order, have a copy in your freight, and the final copy with you. The clock is ticking so be sure there aren’t any unnecessary delays with set up or tear down confusion, locating freight, or any other common problems that could arise.

5. Number of Workers vs. Number of Hours:

Know your exhibit and be sure to have a realistic estimate of not only how many workers you need for your installation and dismantle, but how many hours it should take. Both are important and, if miscalculated, can cost you on-site pricing that you didn’t budget for.

By adhering to these five simple tips and making them a part of your process for every event, extra costs and the aggravation that goes along with them, can be avoided.


Whether you’re new to exhibiting or not, the Trade Show Tips for New Exhibitors white paper is full of helpful advice and information to make your exhibiting experience better. Click here for your free copy and learn the ins and outs of exhibiting that will help you feel confident in your job.

About the Author

Amy Armstrong is a former Exhibiting Consultant at Skyline Philadelphia in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

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