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An Exhibitor’s Guide to Show Personnel

Ever get confused who handles all the services on the trade show floor? Who does the hanging and rigging? What are Stagehands? What is an EAC and how do I get one?  And why are all of these people on the floor?

An Exhibitor's Guide to Personnel on the Floor

This may sound like a foreign language to you, but regardless of your level of experience, exhibiting can be confusing. If you haven’t had the chance to work with various teams before, you may not know whom to ask for assistance. Like anything else, the more you are around something, the more familiar you become with the lingo. To help you navigate the show floor, we have put together a list of personnel to help identify your resources and what they do.

After all, a trade show is comprised of a community of teams who all have specialized skills. This may look like chaos before the show doors open, but if you step back and look closely at the whole picture, it is a beautifully orchestrated machine that brings your show to life!

Here’s a helpful breakdown of who’s who and what’s what:



  • Association – An organization of people that share a common interest. Used here as the association that is sponsoring a trade show. They are responsible for leasing the exposition facility, hiring official contractors and promoting the show. Also known as: Exposition Manager, Show Management, Show Managers, Show Producer, Organizer or Producer.
  • CEM – Certified Exposition Manager - An individual who has completed a training program and has been certified as a manager of trade shows and exhibitions.
  • Exhibit Manager – Either a 1) person in charge of an individual exhibit or 2) a show management staff person in charge of exhibit area. Also known as: Floor Manager or Zone Manager OR Exhibitor at show.
  • Producer – Either an Exhibit Producer: An individual or company that designs and/or builds. Or a Show Producer: An individual or company that manages trade shows.
  • Show Office – Office maintained at show site by show management and/or Show Manager or Show Producer.
  • Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC) – A 3rd party contractor the exhibitor hires to manage all or part of the exhibiting experience. This includes both full-service providers (experiential agencies, exhibit houses, fabrication providers, etc.) and the individual contractors (A/V, photography, florist, etc.) you may choose to place outside of the show appointed provider.


Shipping and Freight 

  • Common Carrier - A transportation line moving freight. For hire to the general public.
  • Contract Carrier – A transportation line moving freight. For hire to those they have a contract
  • Customs Broker - A person or company licensed to enter and clear goods through Customs.
  • Export Broker - An individual or company that brings together buyers and sellers for a fee.
  • Export Management Company - A company that transacts manufacturers’ export business for a fee.
  • Export Merchant - A company that buys products directly from manufacturers, then packages   the merchandise for resale under its own name.
  • Freight Forwarder - A shipping company who matches freight with a transportation provider for a fee.
  • International Freight Forwarder – A shipping company who matches freight with a transportation provider for international freight for a fee.
  • Trade Show Carrier – A company that specializes in transportation of trade show goods.


Special Services

  • A/V Contractor - Supplier of audio/visual equipment, projectors, screens, microphones, etc.
  • Draper - A craftsperson who installs drapes, fabric, and special decor.
  • Electrical Contractor - A company hired by show management to provide electrical services to exhibitors.
  • Electricians – Responsible for installation of electrical equipment. This may include lighted headers, hanging signs and truss work depending on the work jurisdiction.
  • Forklift Operator – Laborer who operates a forklift and is certified to do so.
  • Porters – Laborer that performs sweeping, cleaning and trash removal with the booth spaces on the show floor. Is usually an exclusive vendor appointed by Show Management.
  • Rigger – Either a skilled laborer responsible for the handling and assembly of machinery, hoisting tackle, cranes, scaffolding and heavy materials. Or an individual that hangs overhead signs or exhibit material in some regions.Rigger
  • Show Photographer - Official photographer for trade show or event, appointed by Show Management.
    • Tip of the trade, you do not have to use the official show photographer. Check your show manual for rules on using a 3rd party photography (aka, an EAC)
  • Subcontract Labor - Labor hired to perform work that cannot be fulfilled by the union labor pool.  Ex: United Maintenance to clean carpet, Advance Warehouse Labor, Lease Drivers, etc.



  • Contractor - An individual or company that provides services or materials to a trade show and/or its exhibitors, who is not the Official Show Contractor of the show.
  • Display Builder – Either a company that fabricates (builds) displays or a show worker capable of fabricating displays.
  • Exclusive Contractor – A company other than the “general” or “official” service provider on the show or a third-party service provider who is designated by show management as the provider of a specific service.
  • Exhibit Designer/Producer - Company responsible for designing and constructing exhibitor experiences and booths.
  • Exhibit House - The exhibit builder or the company who rents the exhibit to the exhibitor. Often referred to as an EAC on the floor.  
  • Exhibit Service Contractor – A company hired by show management to be the exclusive provider of materials and services to a trade show and/or its exhibitors. Also known as: Exposition Service Contractor, Full Service Contractor, General Contractor, General Service Contractor, Official Contractor or Official Service Provider.
  • Producer – Either an Exhibit Producer: An individual or company that designs and/or builds exhibit experiences. A Show Producer: An individual or company that manages trade shows and events. Or A/V Producer: An individual or company that manages audio visual for live experience.
  • Subcontractor - Company retained by Official Service Provider to provide services.


Install and Dismantle

  • Carpenter - A skilled worker used to uncrate, install, dismantle, and recrate exhibit properties.Carpenter, Display Labor
  • Craftsperson - A skilled worker who provides services at the exposition facility. Also known as: Labor or Union Labor.
  • Display Labor - Required for all installation and dismantling of exhibits, including signs and floor covering installation.
  • Drayage Contractor - A company responsible for handling the movement of exhibit materials.
  • I & D Company (Installation & Dismantle Company) - A company that is hired to install and dismantle exhibits.
  • I & D Labor – Labor associated with the installation and dismantle of an exhibit, or set-up and tear down of an exhibit
  • Installation Contractor - May be either official (hired by show management) or an independent, EAC - hired directly by an exhibitor who is responsible for supervision and coordination of installation and dismantle labor.
  • Journeyman - Worker who has satisfactorily completed an apprenticeship in a skilled trade.
  • Stagehands - Individuals that are responsible for the installations of theatrical and stage lighting systems.
  • Steward - An on-site union official elected by co-workers to oversee union’s work in the facility and resolve jurisdiction issues. Also known as a Union Steward or Shop Steward.
  • Supervised Labor - Union labor that is provided to a customer/exhibitor to install or dismantle a booth or exhibit space and is supervised and/or directed by Official Service Provider.
  • Union - An organization of workers formed, for the purpose of, dealing collectively with their employer in wages, hours, working conditions and other matters pertaining to their employment.
  • Unsupervised Labor - Union labor that is provided to a Customer/Exhibitor to install or dismantle a booth or exhibit space and, per customer’s election, is not supervised and/or directed by the Official Service Provider. Customer/Exhibitor assumes the responsibility for the work of union labor when Customer/Exhibitor elects to use unsupervised labor.


Miscellaneous Personnel

  • Exhibitor – A company or person exhibiting their goods and/or services at a trade show, event, congress or any other type of exhibiting experience.
  • Attendee – One who attends the trade show. Also referred to as guest.
  • Booth Personnel – Staff members assigned by an exhibitor to work an exhibit.