Install & dismantle – Can I do that Myself or Not?

Installation and Dismantle of booths

The Installation and Dismantle of your booth at a show can be one of the most confusing aspects of an event for many exhibitors. There are so many rules and regulations that vary from venue to venue or city to city that unloading your booth and material at the event, can quickly become overwhelming.

Our first piece of advice is to allow your trade show management company to take care of this for you. It will alleviate many of the headaches, and free up so much of your time that you will be thankful that you made this decision, and will be able to focus on the remainder of your trade show marketing checklist.

Now, let’s assume that you want to try to go at it alone.

What’s involved, what can you do, and what should be avoided?

The first step is to check the Exhibitors’ Kit to see what the local Union restrictions may be. Each Kit will have a page, typically named “Union Jurisdiction”. This will provide you with the basics regarding what you can and cannot do.

Some of the basics typical to most of the popular tradeshow cities, are defining who is in charge of I&D. That will typically point to a local Carpenters or Decorators Union, having jurisdiction over the work. Now, this does not mean your hands are tied. There are some things you can do, but many that you cannot. A general rule of thumb is that you are allowed to set your own booth if it can be done “using your own staff, in less than an hour with no tools”. That’s limiting unless you have a portable booth, and a 10’ x 10’ space.

For all of the specifics on Union Labour or Right to Work, read here.

Let’s assume you are not one of the smaller exhibitors, after all, that’s why you are reading this.

You have 3 options to complete the installation:

Set your own booth

  • Allowed if the setup is done using your own staff, in less than an hour, with no tools.
  • Following the rules and restrictions of the exhibit venue.

Hire a General Contractor

  • These contractors are typically Freeman or GES, selected by show management.
  • They are professionals with professional prices.

Hire an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor

  • Hire the contractor of your choice.
  • They need to : be approved to work in the exhibit venue, carry the insurance, have certification and skills to perform the install work.

In terms of other work needed for a successful install, the most basic services you will need are:

Material Handling

This includes moving freight from dock to booth space, removal and storage of crates, returning crates to your space at show close and loading of the outbound truck. This service is always done through the hired General Contractor of the show.


The work is done through inhouse electricians. This will require you to fill out forms and send in detailed and clear electrical plans.


The connections are typically done through the inhouse provider. Again, requiring forms with plans and demarcation points.

Booth Cleaning

Again, surprise, this is done through an inhouse service. In some instances, your EAC or staff will be allowed to do an initial cleaning such as vacuuming the floor but daily cleaning must be ordered.

As you can see, in most cases, for the majority of the services involved, as an exhibitor, you are hands off.

Learn more on show services.

Early on in your tradeshow life, you will discover that there are many cost-efficient, and convenient advantages to using your display company to take care of the coordination, ordering and execution of all services.

Many of our clients ask whether using a trade show company will cost them more than doing it themselves. The answer is a resounding “yes”.

All Exhibit Houses charge a markup or Project Management Fee to coordinate and handle your show service.

Please consider the convenience and costs saving advantages before attempting to coordinate the trade show set up process independently.

If you’re still unsure of which option is right, consider this:

  • Would you build your own house? No, you would hire a contractor.
  • Would you fix your own car? No, you would hire a mechanic.
  • Would you fix your own plumbing? No, you would call a plumber.
  • Why would you try to coordinate and install your own exhibit when you can simply call your custom trade show display company?

Exhibit builders such as Archex, are experts, and have over 45 years of experience in coordinating and installing tradeshow booths.

We will ensure a smooth, cost effective and time saving installation for you, and give you complete Peace of Mind.

If you think it is expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.