Friday, June 14, 2024

Published on Monday, November 7, 2022

Some Things Haven't Changed

This year, 2022, has probably been the most challenging many in the trade show and event worlds have faced. There have been shortages of materials and labor, increased costs, ROI uncertainty and challenges managing expectations.


And speaking of cost increases, UPS is raising rates about 7%. This follows unprecedented increases over the last year in regular OTR freight and material handling. And don’t get me started on material handling.


I have lapsed in blogging this year and blame it on COVID. I just figured people were tired of hearing about COVID, and articles attempting to explain the effects and predict the future. Those articles and blogs were high in quantity and low on useful information. I simply did not feel like adding to all of that.


I was reminded though, of a blog I posted six years ago. All of a sudden “losing some weight in the new year” is just as important today, as it was back in 2016. That goes for me, too! The added COVID 15 pounds has been hanging around on me too long.


Reducing material handling and shipping costs is the conversation that is going on right now with all of our clients. CFOs and the accounting side of organizations are looking at those line items from 2021 and 2022, and it certainly isn’t pretty. After all, we all want to continue going to shows and events. The value of face-to-face marketing has never been more important. If you are a Prairie client, and this is affecting your budgets for 2023, let’s start the conversation. If you use another source, that’s okay but at least start this discussion with your vendor.


So what are you shipping and how much does it weigh? If you have two crates weighing 1,500 pounds, how can you get that down to one crate at 750 pounds? Can you plan earlier and make sure you ship within the advance warehouse dates?


Even when it comes to portable or modular lighter weight properties, there is still a way to shave off a few hundred pounds by looking at newer alternatives. There may be an additional upfront cost, but the savings of going from 400 pounds of freight on a skid, to 200 pounds via UPS or FedEx could pay for itself in one or two events. If your current supplier won’t help you come up with alternatives, ask Prairie. That’s what we’re here for.


Another way to “lose some weight in the new year” is to look at what else you’re sending, and, more importantly, shipping back after the show. I’m talking about literature and give-aways. Yes, they are a necessary component, but the only thing anyone seems to run out of is candy on Halloween. I’ve never heard of an exhibitor running out of anything they were giving away.


The rule of thumb for premiums is to order 20-25% of the number of expected attendees. If attendance is estimated at 5,000, you probably are safe with about 1000-1250 items, whether it’s brochures, pens or keychains. If you’re targeting certain customers and prospects with a more valuable gift, adjust accordingly. We have a client who contacts the targeted attendees ahead of time, and invites them to the booth for a “special” gift. 


If what you are giving away can be repurposed, check ahead with show management or your hotel. Extra items, especially hygiene items, are always welcome at local food pantries, social service agencies or other non-profits. Sometimes show management has a program in place for distributing unused premiums. If not, do a little research ahead of time to see what might be possible. If you’re renting a vehicle, it may be just as easy to drop off a few boxes on the way out of town at a donation site rather than at the local UPS store.


So maybe we ran out of Halloween candy because I hit the Reese’s too many times. And maybe that contributed to my added COVID weight. Shelley did remind me that apples, bananas and salads cost less per pound than chocolate. I guess I’ll be losing some weight soon. If not now, probably in the new year.





Steve Moskal













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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

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Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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