Skip to main content

First Time Exhibitor Checklist

First Time Exhibitor Checklist

image source

Welcome to the exciting world of trade shows and exhibitions. There is a lot to coordinate before you are able to exhibit on the show floor. We put this guide together in an effort to make your experience seamless and easy.


In the weeks leading up to the show open, check these items off your to-do list in order to save yourself some last-minute stress.

  • Determine if you want to rent your booth/stand or custom build it.
  • Review your contract to confirm the size of your booth/stand, location on the show floor, and space package is correct.
  • Confirm dates for move-in and move-out. Does this show move-in on a targeted schedule? 
  • Place your order early and before the discount deadline with the official service provider to ensure you get the best pricing.
  • Remember to pre-order labor for move-in and move-out. To get labor times guaranteed, order labor for the start of the workday.
    • Expert tip: When sending your freight direct to show site and ordering installation labor, plan installation the day after your freight is scheduled for delivery. This ensures your freight has arrived and is delivered to your booth/stand before laborers arrive.
  • Are you hiring an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)? An EAC is any company other than one of the designated official contractors that an exhibitor can employ inside the exhibit hall before, during and after the show. Be sure to submit all EAC related forms (Intent to Hire, signed Agreement & Rules and Insurance Certificates).


Shipping & Material Handling

Shipping and Material handling

image source

Preparing your exhibit booth/stand and other trade show materials for shipping can seem complicated. To be sure everything arrives on time and in good condition, follow these tips:

  • Plan well in advance to ensure a smooth and successful trade show shipping process and secure the best transportation option for your shipping needs. Using the show’s advanced warehouse (if available) can reduce costs and secure enough time for unloading and booth/stand set up. Don’t forget to also schedule your outbound shipment.
  • Label your shipment(s) before you send them off. Make sure each and every crate, carton, and box is labeled with the proper show name and booth number, even if they are being shipped to the same booth. Be sure to replace these labels with the correct return address when shipping items post-show. Pre-print these labels ahead to save time at show close.
  • Fill out the Bill of Lading or BOL accurately. The BOL is a required document to move a freight shipment from point A to point B. The BOL works as a receipt of freight services, a contract between a freight carrier and shipper, and a document of title. The BOL is a legally binding document providing the driver and carrier all the details needed to process the freight shipment and invoice it correctly.
  • Material Handling refers to the movement of your materials to and from the shipping/receiving area to your specific booth/stand space. 
  • Work with an online freight service provider to assure your shipment has the greatest chance for success, as they will help to select the right carrier for your exact shipping needs. For many shows in the U.S. GES Logistics offers GES Transporation+, a discount on material handling with you ship roundtrip. Contact GES Logistics for a domestic or international shipping quote.
  • If you’ve already arranged shipping, confirm final arrangements with your in/outbound carrier prior to show open and prior to show close.  Check the Exhibitor Move out schedule for suggested carrier post-show pick-up times. Remember, you need to allow time for crates/boxes to be returned, packed and staged for outbound shipping. 
  • When shipping inbound or outbound, keep your carrier PRO numbers (tracking numbers) along with contact phone numbers (daytime and after hours) with you in case you have questions about your shipment.

At Show & Post show

Exhibitor move-in and move-out can be a hectic time.  Be prepared, by following these simple steps.

  • As you unpack your booth/stand for day one, prepare your empty crates for storage by removing old storage labels. The show site service desk can provide you with the proper color-coded storage stickers to be used. Having your empty crates labeled properly will make identification at show close faster and more accurate.
  • On the last day of the show, make note of the Exhibitor move-out schedule.
  • Your empty crates will be delivered to your booth at show close. Now is the time to use those pre-printed return address labels for shipping your booth/stand and goods back home. Be sure to remove all the old labels or cover them properly so there is no confusion.
  • Fill out the BOL completely and accurately.
  • Assign someone from your company to be on-site to oversee the outbound shipment of your booth/stand property and product.
  • Perform a post-show review to determine what worked and what didn’t. It will help your next show be more successful.

    Have questions? Contact GES for help.