Trade Show Services – in 12 ‘’easy’’ steps?

Show Services

As if designing an exhibit booth, transporting it to a convention centre, arranging the install, booking flights and hotels wasn’t enough, let’s throw Show Services into the mix.

Every show will provide what they call a Show Services Manual, a Show Kit and Show Manual or an Exhibitors Kit. They are all one and the same but the industry cannot agree
on what to call it so it has been given many names.

Within this manual will be several hundred pages of confusing fine print telling you what you can and cannot do, where to do it, how much it costs, what not to do, who does what, who is responsible for what and several other hundred confusing topics all without a proper index to help guide you.

Your show manual preview …

  • Payment Authorization
  • Third Party Billing
  • Exhibit Appointed Contractor
  • Shipping Notification
  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Material Handling
  • Electrical
  • Booth Cleaning
  • Internet
  • Rigging
  • Sign Hanging

Mostly, as a Tradeshow Manager you job is to decipher this biblical document find out what you need to order and whom to order it from.

Let’s boil it down to the most commonly ordered Show Services.

Payment Authorization

This is a form where you provide your credit card information to the supplier of the service. There may be multiple forms required depending on who is providing the services.

Often the services are provided by multiple companies.

Third Party Billing

This form is completed jointly by the exhibitor and your exhibit house if your exhibit house is ordering and paying for the various services. This is often the best avenue to take. You will pay a markup from your exhibit house but they are knowledgeable in all aspects of show services and will greatly simplify the process for the exhibitor.

Exhibit Appointed Contractor

The EAC form notifies the show and the General Service Contractor that you are hiring a company to install and dismantle your trade show booth for you. Without this form you will be obligated to use the Service Contractor for install service. Be aware that this form typically must be submitted 30 days ahead of the first day of install otherwise the show reserves the right to force you to use the Official Decorator to perform your install.

Shipping Notification

This form is often neglected by most exhibitors. It is used to notify the show of incoming and outgoing trade show booth materials freight. It acts as an organizational form so that the show knows what to expect, where it is going, who you are using for freight to the show and also provides the information used to prepare outbound shipping labels.


If you are ordering tradeshow carpet from the official supplier as opposed to shipping your own in, this form is used to order that carpet and underpadding.

Typically the rates are much higher than your exhibit house can provide the carpet for. The only true advantage is that, (hopefully), your carpet will be on the floor when your exhibit installation team arrives on showsite.


If you require rental furniture and wish to rent this from the Official Trade show furniture rental company you will consult the catalogue of offerings in the Show Manual, make your selections and submit this form along with the payment information.

If you require a large quantity of furniture it is often an advantage to rent directly from the show. You do not pay for material handling if your order from the show provider. The risk is that often the furniture is used and the quality and cleanliness can be hit and miss.

Material Handling

The two most feared words in the trade show exhibit industry. The material handling form is used to tell the show how much weight you are bringing into the show in order to determine your costs. Trade show Material Handling is charged based on weight.

The rate is calculated based on 100lb increments. You will need to ask your exhibit builder to provide the total weight of all materials and then complete the form based on that number. Material Handling is a slippery slope that is a complete article in itself.


All trade show exhibits require electricity to power lights, equipment, samples etc. You will complete this form advising the electrical service provider how much power you will require, how many outlets you will require and where you need the electrical placed in the booth space.

There will be a date for discounted pricing so getting your order in early is advisable.

Booth Cleaning

If you have flooring in your booth, (and who doesn’t?), you will likely want to order booth cleaning. This service is typically rendered by the convention centre inhouse facilities team and done overnight prior to the show opening. The cost is typically charged per sq foot. The cost will include any closed office spaces even if they are behind closed doors and not accessible to the crew.

You may also order Porter service if you accumulate empty cups and plates in your booth during show hours.


Almost all shows offer both hardwired and WiFi internet.

The cost is not for the faint of heart.

The cost will likely be higher for one single day than your home internet for an entire year. Hardwired internet must be put in place prior to your flooring being installed so be sure to communicate to the provider when your exhibit flooring is scheduled to be installed.


What is the difference between sign hanging and rigging? Nobody is quite sure but it is two different services.

Rigging is typically required for hanging truss to support lighting or large hanging signs. The cost includes a crew charged hourly as well as the equipment. It is common for the cost to be higher than expected as your exhibit houses estimate of how long it should take and how long you get billed for is typically much different. The speed varies by city and any experienced Exhibit Manager can rhyme off the fast and slow cities.

Sign Hanging

Most convention centres have an inhouse sign hanging crew from which you order the service. You will be required to send in Structural Integrity Forms which your exhibit house can help you complete.

You will be required to send in assembly drawings, overall dimensional drawings including weights and the rigging points marked on a floorplan.

Sign hanging costs are most often a shock to the exhibitor.

Be sure to send as much of the required hardware including aircraft cabling, shackles etc. as those items are extremely expensive when rented from the supplier.

Tylenol Request Form

Ok, this form doesn’t really exist but it should be. The first few times you work your way through a Show Manual can be a very intimidating task. The best advice that one can get is to let your Exhibit House take care of all the forms and approvals for you. Yes, there will be a markup but you will rest easy knowing that everything has been taken care of, on time and accurately.