How to Protect Your Exhibit Materials
We all know that there’s no guaranteed way to make sure your booth materials always go completely unscathed. They must make it through shipping, handling, loading, unpacking, installing, and rigging. With every new set of hands-on your booth, the potential for damage and loss increases.
But not taking steps to properly protect your exhibit materials could result in a damage double-hitter: the cost of the actual damage and the potential for reduced impact in your booth experience.
Horror stories abound in the trade show world. I’ve heard tell of forklift pictures, crates falling off of trucks, packages that were run over, leaks on booth carpets, and technical elements being knocked about during installation.
It can happen to anyone! But to set your mind at ease before your next trade show, let’s run through everything in your power to give your booth, and your event, the best chance possible.
Photo Source: Pixabay
Carrier Partner Selection
This job is nowhere near as simple as mailing Christmas packages. The weight, volume, quantity, fragility, and value of booth equipment always make for complex packing, shipping, and handling requirements.
Be sure to get referrals on trade show carriers. You want someone with experience and who has a good reputation for meeting deadlines and delivering with as little damage as possible. Of course, accidents happen. But they can also be prevented.
Keep Documentation on Everything
Always have your trusty shipping documents at the ready and ensure your carrier has copies as well. This data should include:
- Booth number and company information
- Complete list of every item
- The number of items
- Dimensions and weight
- Move-in and move-out details
- Loading and unloading information
- Special equipment needed
When you arrive at the show and check everything over, compare what you see with your paperwork. Make note of any damage and take photos. Having your documentation in order will make it easier to file any claims with the general contracting services.
When your booth is being designed, make sure the exhibit house includes durable crates in the proposal. Pallets are not as effective for fragile items and won’t offer the same protection. You’ve paid good money for your exhibit, don’t skimp on protecting it.
Also, ask for spacers or jigs inside the crates to prevent jostling and crunching inside due to regular handling processes. Ensure that smaller items get boxes of their own and aren’t left to float around inside the crate.
Bubble wrap and foam sheeting are your best friends in this process and will help you protect especially fragile items such as light fixtures and graphics. Don’t let the installation crew throw it away! It can be reused after your event to make sure the return trip is just as safe. Carpets should be transported in thick plastic bags, tarps, or painter’s sheets to protect them from moisture and grime.
The jury is out on the effectiveness of the big “fragile” stickers and labels. This could tell carriers to be careful or it could paint a big target on the back of your box, whether intentional or otherwise.
You can also attach shock sensors that reveal colored dye if a box has been roughly managed, though this is an inconsistent solution at best. With as many moving parts involved in shipping and handling an exhibit, extra cushion and packing are the way to go.
The best place to start protecting your exhibit is in its design. Be intentional and think through potential hazards to help mitigate as many risks down the line as possible.
When The Worst Happens: Exhibit Damage
Crates, foam, bubble wrap, and fragile stickers are all hopeful measures. Unforeseeable stuff still happens, and you can only prevent so much.
If you arrive at your booth and discover damage, take pictures right away. Pull out your documents and start cataloging what you see. Check-in with the services desk and get the on-site contractors or installers back at your booth to survey the damage. Remember, this can also happen when the show is over, and your crates are returned. This happened to one of our clients at the DistribuTECH Show in Dallas, Texas. When we finished labor take down at the show for our client, l the crate arrived smashed in on one side. We at once went to the Service Desk and reported with photos. They sent over one of their representatives and filled out the claim form. If you do not do this at once when at the show, there will be no claim allowed as the show will claim that your shipping company may have delivered it that way and there is no claim justification to protect your costs to fix the crate.
Try to figure out when the damage happened and who may be at fault, the on-site team, loading dock crews, or the freight carrier. This is often a challenging thread to chase when no one wants to take responsibility but stick to it and find out as much as you can.
Is it a cosmetic issue? Reduced functionality? Or a severe loss? Hopefully, your corporate insurance will help in recouping costs or paying for a miraculous fix before the show starts.
For simple issues like scratches and lamination bubbles, here are a few tools you should bring along to any show for a quick fix.
- Small paint bottles and brushes
- Magic eraser pads and cleaning wipes
- Small carpet stain remover
- Digital copies of your graphics
- Electrical tape
Protect Your Exhibit – Design It Right!
Protecting your booth starts with a strong, well-thought-out design. Let’s mitigate the risks of your next show together. Reach out to our team for a quote!