What your exhibit house can and cannot do for clients
In a perfect world your exhibit company would be able to do everything for you at a trade show. However, if your show is in the USA it is not in a perfect world! The list of do’s and do not’s may seem endless. USA shows are governed by contracts with unions and the simple act of plugging in a light, hanging a video screen, or vacuuming a carpet is just not simple. Dependent upon the city and venue a show is set will depend on what a particular union contract allows or disallows. If you do not follow the rules upfront and you do “get caught,” and most people do, the additional bills from the show contractors can be overwhelming.
Simple items like electricity, electrical labor, rigging, and vacuuming must be contracted through the show. We know how it works all around the world however it does not work that way in the USA. Of the list the only item an exhibitor can do is vacuum your own exhibit with your own vacuum cleaner. It is still illegal for your EAC to perform this function.
The pitfalls of self-catering
The top of the list request we receive is for catering, including food, coffee service, and alcohol. If the show contractor sees that you are serving any of the above from your exhibit, they make note and quite probably someone will be by to see you and explain the bill you will be receiving. This is not to say we cannot provide coffee service or a water cooler in your storage room for a charge and for your employees or you cannot bring in a box of donuts. However, once you cross the big divide of serving clients lunch on china service or pouring alcoholic beverages or pulling a beer tap – it is all about the show contractor. Do you really want to take on the liability of offering food items that are inedible because of food temperatures or the legal responsibility of serving alcohol to underage or inebriated show attendees?
Remember this is the USA – what you do in Vegas, stays in Vegas, or New York, Chicago, Orlando, even Anaheim. However, you still have to play by the rules.