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Trade Show Basics: Post-Show Paperwork

tradeshow paperworkI made it through the show, what do I do now? 

We have provided details on your labor, rigging and material handling order forms as well as tips on getting your freight to the show.  Now that you have planned for your show and everything has gone off without a hitch you are done right?  Not just yet! There are still some key items that need to be handled post show to make sure that you are completely prepared for future shows.

Tear Down

Avoid confusion on site by being clear with your trade show booth staff on all their responsibilities during tear down.  Anything left to chance will prolong the dismantle time and the possibility that you will forget something.  Everyone should have a job and know what it takes to complete it.


Make sure that everything you ship has a secure packing solution.  If boxes have become too worn or pallets have broken see the Show Desk for assistance.  Proper packing solutions ensure that everything is safe in transit and reduces the need to worry about items getting damaged.

Post-Show Shipping

You managed to get everything for your trade show display to the show and now it is time to get it all back to the office.  Why create extra work at the show site? Go ahead and schedule a return pick up with your carrier when you scheduled the outbound!  You already have a piece count and you can make a best estimate on the weight (carriers will adjust these numbers based on actual weight anyway).  Make sure that you have the carrier name as well as a pick up time scheduled with the carrier.

Remember that quick facts page?  Time to use it again!  Check the quick facts for the “Driver Check-In Time,” many carriers have to make special pick ups from trade show sites.  If your driver isn’t checked in on time you run into an issue called “Forced Freight.”

  • Forced Freight – Basically this means that your driver didn’t arrive by the check in time and therefore your freight is “forced” onto the Show’s carrier.  Sometimes the show’s carrier rates are higher than the ones you have booked in advance so make sure you make your freight company aware of the driver check in time.

I need my items to go to different places post show, how do I do that?

Handling multiple shipments from a show site should be discouraged as much as possible.  The task isn’t impossible but in the flurry of activity that happens post show there is a higher likelihood for items to be mixed up in the shuffle.  If you have multiple post show pick ups try to have a staff member available to oversee this or make sure someone from the I&D crew(generally the supervisor) understand exactly what needs to happen.  Also, MAKE THIS PERSON’S JOB EASY!  USE LABELS! Make sure everything is properly labeled and spend quality time explaining what needs to happen for the shipping.  If possible, have this conversation BEFORE the show.  The post show exhibit floor is not for the faint of heart, don’t make things more complicated, plan ahead!

Bill of Lading (BOL)

Make sure at the close of the show to stop at the Show Desk and request a BOL. This document must be completed and returned to the Show Desk as soon as possible. The BOL informs the Show Decorator who is coming for the items in your booth, how many pieces they should be picking up, and the address where these items are shipping. Pieces left in the booth space that are not accounted for on the BOL fall under Forced Freight (see above).

When the freight carrier arrives at the show hall they will check in at the Show Desk and pick up a copy of the BOL. The Show Decorator will take care of transporting your materials from your booth space to the truck.

  • Tip! If you have items shipping to more than one address post show you will need to fill out more than one BOL. One BOL should be filled out PER SHIPPING ADDRESS.

Remember that Show Emergency Kit?

Replenish any of the items that were used during the show to make sure your kit is now ready to go for future events.  Try to do this as quickly as possible after the show so you make sure you have everything you need.

Create a Punch List for the Future

Get better and exhibit smarter at your next show by reviewing your last show.  Here are some good questions to ask that will help you improve your tradeshow success the next time around:

  • Did the AV equipment work as promised? Was the monitor too big/small?
  • Did the exhibit graphics convey the message concisely and clearly?
  • Was our booth easy to find?  Should I request different placement next year?
  • Was the booth staff energetic and effective?  Who performed well and who do I need to replace for the next show?
  • How did our marketing for the show perform?
  • How many leads were generated and who is following up on them?
  • How did the suppliers perform?  (exhibit supplier, freight carrier, etc)
  • Overall, what was done well and what needs improvement?

We hope you enjoyed our series on the basics of exhibiting.  Trade shows, when done effectively, can bolster sales and market presence for your company.  Our goal with this series was to inform novice exhibiting professionals and provide handy information for veteran exhibitors.  Keep in mind that every company and show can be different. Be your best advocate and always strive to be informed when it comes to trade shows.  The more information you have, the better decisions you will be able to make when it comes to exhibiting.  Best wishes for successful exhibiting!

This post is part of series in trade show marketing best practices. Visit the others in this series by clicking below: 

Evolving Role of Exhibit Marketers: free white paperThese days, trade show exhibiting is more than just showing up with a booth.  Learn more about how your peers are tackling their expanding roles in The Evolving Role Of Exhibit Marketers.  To request your free white paper, click here.  

About the Author

Clarissa was a Project Manager at Skyline Exhibits of Central Ohio, located in Columbus, Ohio.

2 responses to “Trade Show Basics: Post-Show Paperwork

  1. Hi Clarissa,

    Thanks so much for your articles on the various aspects of tradeshow planning. I just started a new job that entails a lot of tradeshow planning and I’m overwhelmed and clueless about many things. Many of the questions I had you’ve covered in your blog. I so appreciate going somewhere for this information!

    1. Hello Ester,

      I am so glad that you found this series of posts useful! As with all tradeshows you are not alone, when you have questions reach out to the show decorator or show management – those folks are there to help make your event a success. I hope the information in these articles helps make your job a little eaiser. Just remember – keep calm and tradeshow on!

      Happy Exhibiting,
      Clarissa Kierner

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