Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Published on Thursday, April 14, 2016

We're Not Just Being Nosy

“I need this on the 17th.”


Events calendarWhen you live in the trade show and event world, where dates are the tail that wags the dog, you need to know exactly what a date means. Prairie’s staff is full of experienced trade show professionals and will naturally follow up “I need it on the 17th” in a very specific way. The conversation follows something like this:


“I need this for my show on the 17th.”


“Is that the day your show opens?”


“Why, yes.”


Dates mean different things to everyone. From our perspective, this conversation needs more clarification:


“Where is the event?”

“Are you setting up the display, using show labor or need us to assist?”

“Are you shipping in or carrying in by yourself?”

“Is there a targeted move-in?”


We’re not just being nosy.


Exhibitor's guideSuddenly, “I need it on the 17th”, means actually the 15th, because the 17th is a Sunday. Oh, and the show is in Orlando, so you need to ship it in. Well the advance warehouse date is the 9th and direct to site can only happen on the 15th. To make matters more of challenge, your shipment can only arrive between 1:00 and 3:00pm. Having what you need on the 17th, now means getting it on the 17th will be too late. At this point, it’s time to buckle down with the exhibitor manual and get the specifics fine tuned.


Seasoned trade show professionals understand the importance of peeling back the onion on dates associated with an upcoming trade show or event. You’ve done it over and over, memorized show manuals, started timeline spreadsheets and have a weathered dry-erase board on your wall.


Exhibitor checklistBut what if you’ve been given your group’s next event as a new project or had it “dumped on you” with no one to rely on, or ask questions for credible information. If you’re getting responses like “Well, Duane used to do that, but he’s gone now,” or “This will be a good learning experience for you - jump on in,” you really need to find an experienced partner for your trade show endeavors. Someone who will ask the detailed questions.


If you say you need something by the 17th, and your vendor doesn’t ask what that date means, it’s time to find a new trade show partner. Someone like Prairie Display. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years and have helped our customers navigate some pretty rough waters. We’re all in this together. There are times when the trade show and event logistics defy reasonable logic. For those who are new to the challenge, the more you know going in, the better.


Finish line signIf you are that seasoned trade show professional, count on Prairie. We’re in the same trade show muck day after day and week after week, just like you. We’re looking at dates and schedules, and anticipating bumps in the logistics. We’re monitoring projects that include custom graphic applications on fabric, or one of a dozen different surfaces. We’re coordinating new builds with stock, off-the-shelf properties. We’re double-checking move-in and move-out dates and times.


To us, it’s more than just a banner stand, counter or backwall. It’s about getting to the finish line with the minimum amount of stumbles along the way.


Buy now buttonSo you ‘re ready to click the “buy now” button at that website with the picture of the squeaky-clean customer service rep wearing a headset. You’ll receive an email, immediately confirming that your trade show order will arrive at your requested destination by the 15th. Great!


Live chat supportBut hold on a minute - on Saturday the 16th you receive a text from the frantic salesperson who’s onsite to set up the display, and there’s nothing for them to set up.


Empty trade show boothAfter tracing the shipment, it turns out delivery was attempted on the 15th, but UPS didn’t show up during the targeted time. And they will not wait in a marshaling line. Don’t worry, they’ll reattempt delivery on Monday the 18th.


Just in time to break down the show. If only they would have asked.




Steve Moskal


UPS truck








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Author: Steve Moskal

Categories: Logistics, Planning


Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

Other posts by Steve Moskal
Contact author Full biography

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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