If you’re an international exhibitor who is used to the trade show regulations in Europe, Asia and other places abroad, exhibiting in the U.S. can be a complex and frustrating process. As if language barriers, calculating the U.S. dollar exchange rate, researching visa requirements and figuring out whether or not to ship your existing stand isn’t enough to consider, U.S. trade show regulations vary significantly from international shows.
At Trade Show Supply, our staff understands the fundamental differences between domestic trade shows and those abroad. With a multi-lingual staff, we are committed to helping all international exhibitors that reach out to us for assistance understand U.S. trade show basics and regulations while providing them with the highest-level of customer service.
To help make your next show a seamless process, we’ve created this list of 5 key things to consider while planning your exhibition stand for a U.S. trade show.
Show organizers in Europe, Asia and internationally are typically lenient when it comes to stand height restrictions. Further, international exhibitors tend to have more flexibility in stand design, layout and construction.
U.S. trade shows, however, place strict restrictions on stand height – especially on inline stands. In most cases, the back wall of an inline stand cannot exceed 8 feet. Additionally, items in the front half of the stand cannot exceed 4 feet. Restrictions on island stands are more relaxed, but note that hardware generally can’t exceed 18 feet.
For more information on height restrictions, check out our Line of Sight & Height Restrictions Infographic here.
Stand Construction & Installation
A fundamental difference between how the U.S. and rest of the world conduct exhibitions is the style of the stands and the nature of their construction. Installation and move-in typically spans 8-10 days in Europe and Asia, while in the U.S., exhibitors are only given 2-3 days for installation and move-in.
Abroad, it is common to see elaborate exhibition stands that are constructed on-site at the show venue. Due to much shorter move-in times, U.S. stands are prefabricated off-site – at a facility like Trade Show Supply – then are transported to the show site where they are assembled quickly.
In the U.S., it’s important that you adhere to Labor Union rules and regulations on the show floor. In various cities, labor unions can be EXTREMELY strict. For instance, the New York Labor Union will not allow you to plug in your own electrical items in your exhibit – you must hire a Union worker to do so or will be fined.
Cost of labor varies from city-to-city, with hourly rates in Las Vegas costing $104 USD while hourly rates in Orlando is usually $84 USD. Labor in the U.S. is charged hourly – there is rarely an instance when you will pay a flat rate for services. If you need laborers to work on the weekends or any time before 8:30 AM or any time after 4:30 PM on weekdays, you are required to pay them overtime pay.
U.S. shows tend to be much shorter than international shows. The average U.S. show is 2-3 days, whereas it is common for international shows to last up to 5 days.
Keep this in mind as you plan for your U.S. exhibition. On one hand, shorter show lengths can help reduce hotel and travel costs. On the other hand, this means you have to fit client outreach, product demonstrations and meetings into a shorter period of time. Anticipate larger crowds, more consistent booth traffic and longer days while exhibiting in the U.S.!
Show Services & Costs
It’s no surprise that exhibiting in the U.S. can be considerably more expensive than in Europe or Asia. In fact, trade shows are often cited as being five times higher in the U.S. than abroad. The U.S. market, however, is extremely lucrative, so the additional costs are worthwhile. For example, the state of California alone recently became the world’s 6th largest economy, surpassing France and India.
One of the most unexpected costs for international exhibitors is drayage (or material handling). Drayage is a fee for moving materials from venue loading docks to your stand space and it is charged by the weight of materials, per CWT (or 100 pounds). For more information on material handling, click here to view our Drayage Infographic.
Note that common show services, such as electric, wireless internet and vacuuming require paperwork to be filled out before the show begins. You can find these forms in your show “Quick Facts.” Alternatively, when you partner with Trade Show Supply, our experienced Account Managers and Certified Event Managers will assist you with show service forms.
With these five key about U.S. trade shows in mind, our team has crafted tips to make your next experience as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
Tips for an Efficient, Cost-Effective Experience
1. First and foremost, avoid shipping your existing stand to the U.S. Not only is shipping a container overseas expensive, but it also takes extremely long to clear customs, get loaded on a truck and transported to the show facility. In many cases, it can take 30 days to get your stand to the show site and an additional 30 days to get it back to your office/facility from the U.S.
2. Many international venues require exhibitors to build their booth on a raised platform. In the U.S., however, this is not required – carpet or vinyl are more affordable options that are acceptable forms of flooring in the U.S. On average, our international exhibitors save $8,000 USD by switching from platform flooring to carpet.
3. Plan far in advance! This may seem obvious, but we can’t emphasize enough the importance of starting your planning early. The sooner you book your international flights and hotel rooms, hire/select English-fluent staff and apply for any Visas you may need, the easier and more affordable your exhibition experience will be.
4. Partner with an exhibition stand company that specializes in U.S. trade shows. At Trade Show Supply, we have specialized in U.S. exhibitions for 25 years. With fabrication facilities located across the U.S. and less than 2 miles from the country’s busiest convention centers, our multi-lingual staff is ready to help ensure your next U.S. exhibition is seamless, cost-effective and successful!