Must I read the Exhibitor Service Manuals???
So many pages of information followed by so many forms to complete can often be overwhelming. What’s the big deal anyway? Exhibiting and saying “We’re simply setting out a few samples and cracking open a laptop”…are famous last words my friends. So if you ask yourself do I really need to read the Exhibitor Service Manual? YES, you do need to it, since contained within the manual (aka exhibitor kit) is all the logistical details and order forms for an exhibitor and without paying close attention to the details, your exhibit experience can easily run off the tracks. By reading the manual there will be no surprises at the end of the show since you will know the costs in advance for budgeting.
Exhibitor Service Manuals (ESM) come in all lengths. For smaller events, kits can be as little as 20 some pages but as the size of the show increases, so does the girth of the exhibitor kits. I have seen many in the range of 50-70 pages of valuable information and they balloon up to mega sized novels totaling 150 pages or more. Wow……that is a ton of stuff to read and digest.
The age old adage, Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance fits this topic perfectly. Your exhibitor kit is the roadmap for exhibiting successfully. It provides all the timelines, valuable discount deadlines, shipping addresses and deadlines with every order form you might need, from carpet and furniture rental to utilities and the offerings from a host of ancillary suppliers (everything from lead retrieval to booth staffing options.
A sampling of what is contained in the ESM includes:
- Show Information Facts
- Dear Exhibitor
- Payment Authorization
- Booth Cleaning
- Custom Signs
- Display Labor
- Rental Booths
- Work Authorization & Third Party Authorization
- Material Handling (and receiving target date info)
- Shipping Labels (warehouse)
- Shipping Labels (show site)
- Hanging Sign Order and Labels
- Return Freight & Storage
- Preferred Carrier
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Hand Carry Policy
- Vehicle Spotting
- Rules and Regulations
- Specialty Furniture
- Convention Center/Facility Forms
- (Electrical, A/V, Rigging, Etc.)
A quick guide to what you must review starts with the times, dates, locations and schedule of the exposition. Normally, this vital information is contained within the first few pages of these massive tomes. Another essential is a list of discount deadline dates, although they vary for each type of service or rental item and for each service supplier contracted for the event.
Assuming you are an experienced exhibitor, we still do not want to gloss over how important it really is to read the entire manual, yet you instinctively know what you need and how to order these items and services. Yet even the most veteran exhibitors often miss critical deadlines and materials including target receiving dates simply because they didn’t actually read the exhibitor services manual.
Examining the pitfalls of not reading the Exhibitor Manual, most of them line up the same. Read the kit to determine the discount deadline for each service you want to order. You can save upwards of 30% from floor order prices by adhering to the discount deadlines on certain items. Email and call the respective suppliers to confirm receipt of any order. Most GSC’s (General Service Contractor aka decorator) and ancillary suppliers do not reconfirm receipt of your order. It behooves you to take the initiative and reach out to the customer services staff that is there to help you have a great show.
Don’t get trapped in the thinking “I am bothering these folks with my silly questions and nervous Nelly attitude.” First, the CSR’s (Customer Service representatives) you are talking to genuinely like helping people like you. That’s their job, to assist you in having a smooth install and dismantle. If you feel you aren’t being treated properly or being helped, you have the ultimate leverage of calling the show manager and letting them know which supplier is not being service oriented. I can guarantee that the situation dynamics will change immediately after the service vendor is called by Show Management staff about their lack of concern.
Basically, reading the entire kit never killed anyone (that we know of). You must read (or in the very least, deeply peruse) the forms in the kit because each show has slightly different regulations and every GSC/decorator/supplier has varying rules and deadlines. Stay out ahead of the deadlines, order the services you require and confirm the vendor has your order and understands what you need. Sounds simple, right? You can be a Rock Star exhibitor by taking a few hours as soon as you have the ESM (Exhibitor Services manual) and beginning the process. In the short term, you will devote some time to this task. Most importantly, in the long run, you will save money, save time on show site and be part of facilitating a nice smooth installation. After all, who wants to be the person that missed a huge deadline discount just because “I didn’t think I had to read that stuff”