XPOBlog

Welcome!

ELITeXPO – We’re NOT BACK….. Because WE NEVER LEFT!

Hello friends, colleagues, and faithful customers. We’ve been receiving lots of calls and messages lately from customers who are back at their desks working on rapidly developing show schedules. They are telling us how happy they are that their ELITeXPO team is still available and working to assist them in getting back to work with ordering new exhibit properties, updating their warehouse inventory and scheduling their upcoming show shipments.

With the growing number of tasks now piling up, it’s comforting to know that your trade show support staff has been working this whole time and preparing for what we all have been waiting for. The return of live trade shows. No offence to virtual events, of which we assisted several of our customers with, but doesn’t getting back to face-to-face marketing make you happy? It’s like we are out of trade show jail and the return to normal.

Ok, so normal may not be such a good word. Everything will have changed somewhat for a least the short term and some forever. But when I was watching the Cubs game the other day after Chicago had lifted all attendance restrictions, it was SO nice to see all those smiling faces, sitting together in the stands, enjoying a game in a “large group gathering”. Sound familiar? Yes, just like trade shows. I just returned from a show in Vegas last week and it was exhilarating to be able to walk into restaurants and most places in the hotel without a mask because I was fully vaccinated.  I received mine early because I wanted no restrictions to getting back to whatever the new normal was going to be. I’ve encouraged people in our industry to receive the vaccine if its appropriate for you and your physical circumstances. We still will wear a mask on an airplane but that’s not too inconvenient. For us travel warriors, it may not be a bad thing when you consider the colds and sinus infections we always would get while traveling anyway.

So, pick up the phone and give us a call. I know that there are plenty of things to prepare for as shows come back. Postponements have moved shows into different time slots and times of the year. Your last show may have been in 2019 and your exhibit may need a facelift. You have been reading that the supply chains have been stretched and everything is in low quantity and delayed. Couple that with increased large demand and you may not be able to get what you need in time for your best event of the year. If you have the time, look at preparing to get your orders in NOW. Things will take longer, likely until everything catches back up in 2022 when show schedules get back into their normal slots. We also would appreciate getting your shipments for upcoming events booked now, so that we can move them efficiently, on time and reduce your costs.

Yes, we never left. We’re still here and working every day (and night). We greatly appreciate your continued support and look forward to seeing you on the show floor and speaking with you very soon.

Why ELITeXPO Asks You for the Event’s Exhibitor Kit

One of the biggest differences between using a “fill in the webform” carrier to ship your exhibit and using an experienced tradeshow logistics provider like ELITeXPO, is that we verify the details to make sure that your exhibit materials arrive to each event on-time and without issue.

To be as detailed as we are, we need to have as much information about not only your shipment, but about the event itself. Therefore, we need to look at the information that is in the Exhibitor Kit/Manual that is provided to each exhibitor by Show Management or the hosting Association. In the past, these kits/manuals were easily accessible via the event’s website or the General Contractor’s website. Lately, they have been secured on these sites and access is only available via the exhibitor’s username and password. This means that your ELITeXPO representative may now ask you to send them the exhibitor kit/manual or provide them with the login information to view it for themselves.

What details are we looking for?

  • Addresses – Advanced Receiving Warehouse & Show Venue
  • Hall / Room Details – Which hall or room is the event in? Will our driver have to go inside to a ballroom or is there a dock?
  • Dates/Times – Advanced Receiving dates/times, Shipment Move-In & Move-Out dates/times, Freight Carrier Check-In /dates/times, Event dates/times, Force dates/times.
  • Is the Move-In or Move-Out Targeted? If so, what date/time applies for your booth number and/or size?
  • Additional Shipping Instructions – Special requirements. Is freight pickup and delivery allowed directly at the venue itself or are all deliveries and/or recoveries being handled at the Advanced Warehouse?
  • EAC Form – If ELITeXPO is doing the exhibit Installation and/or Dismantle

What else will we ask you for?

  • On-Site Exhibitor Contact Information
  • Hotel Shows – Do you have contact information for whom you have been speaking with at the hotel?

What are things an exhibitor might not think to look for in an Exhibitor Kit/Manual?

  • General Contractor’s Labor Costs – Completing and Submitting the Labor Payment Form
  • Other forms that must be completed and submitted before the show. – Electrical Requirements, Audio/Visual, Furniture, Floral, etc.
  • Exhibitor Self-Install – Is the client able to setup/takedown the display themselves, including electric, and/or any other “labor” required. There are new safety and security protocols in place due to Covid-19. Some venues now require all labor to be performed by OSHA certified laborers. Additional insurance riders may also be required.
  • Covid Safety Procedures – Booth distancing requirements, cleaning requirements, etc.
  • What Comes With the Booth Space?  Table, chair, wastebasket are often provided to each exhibitor.
  • Exhibit Display Restrictions – Height restrictions, how far forward in an inline booth space the display components can be placed. Side wall restrictions. Can a wall be against an aisle if the booth is an island? Lighting safety requirements.
  • Early Deadlines for Ordering Show Services – This allows for discounts and assuring your required AV & labor are available.
  • General Contractor’s Drayage Costs / Material Handling at Show Site (They are NOT the same as shipping. See the explanation below.) – Completing and Submitting their Drayage Payment Form

What IS Drayage?

Think of this as Hotel Butler Service you cannot avoid. You may be physically able to bring your own bags to your room, but because of the union rules at most convention facilities, both you or your carrier are not allowed to touch your freight on the show floor. Whether your items ship to the advanced warehouse or the show floor, you will have to pay for drayage to have your shipment moved to your booth space and back to the dock at the end of the show.

The fees for drayage are often much the same whether you ship to the advanced warehouse or direct to show. The benefit of shipping to the advanced warehouse is it can save on shipping costs by avoiding show site related surcharges, and it puts your shipment in the booth space early, so it’s waiting for you vs you waiting for your shipment to be received and brought to you.

Show Kit Services – ELITeXPO does offer Show Kit Completion Services. We can fill out your order forms and coordinate all services for you. Our fees for this service vary based on exhibit size and requirements. Contact ELITeXPO for more information at 800.543.5484 or info@elitexpo.com.

2021 Is Here! Homestretch?

No one could have predicted what we would be experiencing now in January 2021, if you would have asked me that question when this whole pandemic thing started. I’m sure we all thought that this would have been long over by now. And as if we all didn’t have enough on our plates, we had a summer of unrest, a contentious election and an insurrection at the Capitol. That’s more than enough excitement for one year. I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but man, I cannot wait to get back to VEGAS!

But 2021 has come in with some uncertainty and that makes it difficult for us in the trade show world to plan. But plan we must. While vaccinations are not being administered as quickly as we all would like, the hope is that the current plan would get more vaccine into more Americans sooner. NOW, if they just handed over all of the logistics to the professionals in the trade show industry, we’d not only be far ahead of where we are currently, but the balance of the work to be done would be done, dare I say, before the next show is scheduled to move in. That’s right, from the show managers to the show vendors, we are all accustomed to moving a lot of people, equipment and resources, both in and out of a large multitude of events every day. AND, in tight time frames and deadlines? Hmmmm. Sound familiar?

100 Million doses of vaccine in the next 100 days? What are we going to do with the other 90 days we have left? When you look at it, convention centers were already used in various cities as temporary hospitals. Guess who helped build those giant facilities inside those convention centers. That’s right, convention labor. We probably would have gotten it done even quicker had we been in charge of everything. Considering our ability to build whole convention centers with large extravagant exhibits, we probably would have been more efficient too. Why build the whole center out when all of those beds weren’t needed? If you were confident in your ability to construct more, as needed, when needed, then less expense would be incurred by providing more bed space than was necessary. (As it was, a total of only 33 people used the McCormick Place temporary hospital last year at a total cost of 81.1 Million including staffing, but boy what a great photo op) I’m thinking we also would have gotten it all completed more economically as well. (unless someone decided to charge drayage……) But I digress.

With that for your thoughtful consideration, it’s also interesting that the convention and trade show industry hasn’t received any specific or individual assistance. It’s not for lobbying and proving the facts as to why we are more than deserving. Our industry has, but it seems that more of the fringe industries tied to our work are recognized. I wrote to my state Senators and House Representatives to advise them that if they really wanted to assist the airlines, the hotels and the restaurants, then instead of pouring money in assistance solely to those entities, they should consider helping the trade show industry and allow us to run reduced factor events safely. If you can go to a Costco or a Home Depot on the weekend and see hundreds if not thousands of people shopping without consideration for social distancing, then why cannot trade shows operate? You want to fix the airlines and hotels? Let us get back to work at our tradeshows and we’ll fill them up.

I’ve been to a few shows this Covid season in Florida and have read of others where show organizers take attendee temps of everyone entering the floor. Shows have wider one-way aisles, reduced carpet, reduced amenities, stinky hand sanitizers everywhere, extra face masks available and an overwhelming compliance by those in attendance as well as booth staff to take simple and effective precautions. I felt safe in the show hotel and the cleanliness was far greater than any time in the last 30 years I’ve been traveling to shows. I’m not about to open a discussion on which states have contained the infections and which ones are having difficulty. Clearly, it’s not due to trade shows. Florida and Texas have opened up events. We haven’t heard any reports of super spreaders coming from any of these shows. I just believe that our industry can produce safe and effective face to face events that apparently everyone is craving.

All of us here at ELITeXPO are craving to get back to work too. We’ve begun to see more activity ramping up as companies look to get a jump on assuring that their exhibits are ready for those first events that they will plan on using when their show season returns. They are reviewing their inventory and getting orders in now for show materials that they are learning they are needing. We are calling on shows as the Official Carrier as early as next month in February. We have scheduled more shows in March and customers are planning events for April and May. Our largest Official event of the year has moved to August and robust planning is proceeding now to assure that we’re ready.

We all know that events out of our control can sidetrack these plans. But isn’t that the life of a trade show professional anyway? ELITeXPO lives in the plan B side of the trade show world when called upon to make the impossible happen with little or no time to make it happen in. Of course, we are always happy when called upon to smoothly handle all the Plan A plans for our customers events. But I have a sneaky feeling, that our return to business and our ultimate ramp up to getting back to work is going to full of Plan B activities. We’re ready.

We’re here, working every day and ready to help. We’re excited to see our world of trade shows returning to some semblance of normal. What the new normal will be, remains to be seen, but as long as there are shows to attend, with friends and colleagues to see and collaborate with, we’ll figure out the rest. It’s what we do. We’re tradeshow strong!

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon.

Dave

David Mihalik – President ELITeXPO