On-Site Information


Installation & Dismantling
Installation and dismantling (I&D) personnel will be provided a free color-coded wristband for setup and tear down on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I&D wristbands will not be provided on Thursday. Once the hall opens, these bands will not be valid for entry.

The set-up period of the exhibition can be chaotic. The exhibit hall will be full of activity with huge crates and cartons, shipments/equipment on skids, forklifts and other motorized vehicles, other exhibit coordinators, and official contractors.

The first thing you should do upon arriving at the exhibition, after picking up registration materials, is to locate your booth space, which can be challenging. With the facility floor plan, compare the relationship of your booth space to the main entrance and to the main aisles.  Use the overhead aisle signs for assistance.

Once you have found your space, make sure you review your shipment packing list, inventory your shipment, and check to see that all your items have arrived and have been delivered to your booth space.

If you need assistance:

  • Proceed to the drayage desk/freight forwarder service counter immediately.
  • Most freight movement is computerized and the general contractor or freight forwarder will be able to confirm the whereabouts of your shipment.
  • If your shipment has arrived at the marshalling area, it may be en route or on the dock.
  • If your shipment has arrived at the dock and is not at your booth, it may be in the hall — either in a nearby booth, blocked from your view by a large crate, or sitting elsewhere in the hall.
  • There will also be personnel from the service contractor on the exposition floor ready to assist you as well as the designated service desk area.

NOTE:  It is important for you to report any damage to your crates and skids to the Service Desk and file a claim immediately.  Take photographs and be as detailed as possible in your reports.  Any delay could result in a difficulty, if not an impossibility, in collecting damages.

Booth Space
At the AAFS meeting, raw space includes exhibit space dividers made of a lightweight, fire-retardant drape hanging from aluminum pipe (referred to as “pipe and drape”).  Due to the different needs of each company, we do not provide tables, chairs, internet access, or waste baskets. The exhibit hall at the Baltimore Convention Center is not carpeted. Specialty/custom carpet colors are available through the Show decorator. Additional booth decoration information can be found on the Exhibit Application/Contract or within the contracted decorator’s website.

Next, survey the exhibit area.  Be aware of any union regulations. You may not be able to simply start working on electricity or moving your freight.  Some venues are “right to work” and allow you to set up your own booth, especially if it is a portable display.  Refer to the contracted decorator’s website for detailed information on restrictions.

If you have ordered carpet, it should have been installed by this point. Arrange to have the carpet covered with protective plastic until you are ready for the exhibition. Check to see that the electrical, if ordered, and other utilities are accessible in the locations specified in your booth plans. Any discrepancies or changes should be reported to a floor manager or the Service Desk immediately.

Empty Crates
As the crates are emptied and the booth begins to take shape, remember to place “empty” labels on the crates, cartons, and skids (make sure they are empty or at least ready to go to storage). Always include your company name and booth number on every label, as they will be carted away and inaccessible until the exposition closes. If you require “accessible” storage, this can be arranged at an additional cost (see the Service Desk).  Refer to the contracted decorator’s website for detailed times on when the crates must be ready for removal.

Always remember that the exposition will open on the date and time stated, so it is imperative that your booth is ready the morning the exposition opens.  You do not want visitors to arrive at your booth and find it still under construction, or that equipment is not ready for demonstration.

AAFS Exhibitor Liaison Committee Meeting and Reception
All registered exhibitors are invited to the Exhibitor Liaison Committee Meeting and Reception to be held on Thursday, February 21, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. during the AAFS Annual Meeting. Companies that attend the Exhibitor Liaison Meeting receive pre-launch booth selection for the next year’s annual meeting. The exhibitor must attend the Exhibitor Liaison Meeting in order to qualify for the pre-booth selection for the following year’s annual meeting. This committee serves to advise AAFS on issues concerning exhibitions. The committee assists in the establishment and monitoring of AAFS exhibiting guidelines.

Reviewing and Paying Final Invoices
The general service contractor will require full payment of your account before leaving the exhibition. As the last day of the exhibition approaches, a final invoice will be delivered to your booth. Have copies of all service contracts with you and come prepared with a company check or a credit card. Check the final invoice carefully and correct any errors. If you have a question, take the invoice to the Service Desk for resolution.

The dismantle period is very hectic and is a particularly sensitive time when thefts (especially handbags and laptop computers) are most likely to occur. Do not leave your booth unattended during those times. If you have rental A/V equipment or computers, arrange ahead of time for these to be picked up immediately after the exhibition closes. Equipment can easily disappear from your booth if not protected.

When the event closes, aisle carpeting will be removed immediately. All crates, cartons, and skids will then be returned to your booth. It may be several hours before the general contractor is able to return all the empty crates, so schedule travel plans accordingly.

If your crates are not delivered, or if any are returned damaged, report it to the Service Desk, describing exactly what is missing or damaged. File any necessary claims.

If you have hired labor for dismantling, be certain they know what is rented and what belongs to your company. You are responsible for returning instruments such as telephones and lead retrieval units. Telephones and lead retrieval units can require sizable deposits. Be certain before you leave to ask someone to be responsible to return this equipment, or return it yourself. Remember to get a receipt; otherwise, you might lose your deposit.

Remember to take the dismantle period into consideration when making your travel arrangements. It is NOT advised to plan a flight the same day the exhibition closes.

Early Move-Out
Exhibitor shall not initiate tear down or abandon an exhibit prior to the official Show closing time on the final Show day. Violation of this paragraph will cause Exhibitor to be subject to a $500 fine and possible exclusion from exhibiting at future shows. Exhibitor agrees that premature tear down distracts from the overall merit of the Show, creates a negative image of the company and the Show, and may possibly put attendees at risk due to the dismantle of exhibit materials in a public forum. Show management will monitor the Exhibit Hall in order to enforce this policy.

Shipments Leaving the Exhibit Hall
Be certain that all materials to be shipped from the exhibition are clearly labeled with a destination and that all bills of lading are accurately completed. Do not leave your shipment sitting on the exhibit floor assuming someone will take care of it. Contact the general services contractor of the freight forwarder when you are ready to hand over your shipment to them.

Bills of Lading
Upon move-out, a bill of lading must be completed for each separate shipment/destination and returned to the general service contractor desk.

Account for all items on the bill(s) of lading and include quantity of each (e.g., crates, cases, boxes, skids) and the approximate weight. Form of payment should always be “prepaid.” Remember, if you do not take care of paying your final invoices before you leave the site, your freight may not be released for shipment. All bills of lading must bear your signature and must be turned in to the Service Desk. ALWAYS keep a copy for your records, never leave the bills in your booth, and DO NOT attach them to your freight. Always make sure that shipments going to different destinations are labeled appropriately and separated by destination at the booth site.

Misconceptions of Drayage (Material Handling)

 Misconception 1:  Material handling is just 50 feet from the dock to the booth.

  • Drayage, renamed “Material Handling,” includes:
    • Labor, equipment costs, transportation expenses, maintenance, marshalling yard rent, trailer expenses, security, facility rental, workers compensation, insurance, communication equipment, and
    • Tight move-in/move-outs.
    • Weather issues and traffic.

Misconception 2:  The union is the enemy.

  • Unions address costs and competence with sophisticated training programs, drug and alcohol testing, and involvement in industry associations.
  • Union labor is an essential ingredient to your success.

Misconception 3:  The General Service Contractor provides all of the services on the show floor.

  • The show floor is very complex.
  • The General Services Contractor does not provide all services. Make a list of contacts for your contracted services.

Misconception 4:  Using unofficial contractors is more cost effective because their prices are lower.

  • Unofficial contractors:
    • may not have access.
    • may not have resources.
    • may not be as dependable.
    • may be more expensive.
    • may provide no assurance of quality service.
  • Official contractors have a stake in the success of the event. They own these services.  They are not just a broker.

Source: Effective Strategies for Managing Costs: Enhancing the Value and ROI of the Exhibit Space.

Produced by:  The International Association for Exhibition Management (IAEM) and the Exhibition Services and Contractors Association (ESCA).