Trade Show Glossary
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Here is an A-Z list for common terms you may here while planning and what they mean.

Trade Show Lingo"  

  • Advanced warehouse - an off-site warehouse, where exhibitors' show materials are stored until show setup begins. Items are shipped to the advanced warehouse a few weeks before the start of the event. A show contractor then transports the items from the advanced warehouse site to the show site. Advanced warehousing is usually much less expensive than direct-to-show shipping, but requires advanced planning to meet the required delivery windows.
  • Banner Stand - free-standing display hardware that's paired with flexible graphics. The graphics are usually manufactured from fabric or vinyl.
  • Boneyard - an area used for storage of equipment and supplies (such as shipping cases) during a trade show or event. A boneyard may have its own dedicated space in the exhibit hall, or it may be located on an unused portion of the show floor.
  • Doghouse - an electrical distribution box that houses multiple outlets in one location.
  • Direct-print graphics - graphics that are printed onto a rigid or flexible/roll-able material using a flatbed UV printer. Ink is sprayed directly onto the material, then cured with ultraviolet light. Direct-print graphics are very cost-effective, durable, and fade-resistant.
  • Direct-to-show shipping - a process where exhibitors' items are shipped directly to the show site for a pre-scheduled delivery. Direct-to-show shipping is much riskier (and expensive) than advanced warehousing, since items must be delivered on a specific date, within a very specific time frame.
  • Drayage - also known as material handling, drayage is a term used to describe services performed by a contractor (usually hired by the event's sponsor) and involves several steps: 1) transportation of your exhibit materials from the receiving dock to your assigned booth space, 2) removal and storage of shipping crates/cases once display setup is complete, 3) return of shipping crates at the conclusion of the event, and 4) loading materials back onto a carrier's vehicle for outbound shipment.
  • Dye-sublimated graphics - graphics that are printed onto fabric using a combination of a grand format printer and a heat press. Graphics are printed, then transferred to fabric while running through a 400°F heat press. Since the heat press is so hot, the liquid ink becomes a gas, and it's sublimated into the fabric. Dye-sublimated graphics are very crisp and vibrant.
  • Flame-retardant - a term used to describe materials that have been coated or infused with a fire-resistant compound. Note: These materials are not fire-proof!
  • Gobo - a pre-cut or etched pattern (usually made from metal or glass) that's designed to be fitted into a lighting instrument. Once the light fixture is turned on, the projected light takes on the form of that pre-cut pattern (for example, a company logo).
  • Height restriction - refers to the maximum allowed height for a trade show display inside of a booth space. For instance, most 10' x 10' displays can't be any taller than 8 feet. We strongly recommend reading your show manual before purchasing your display to ensure that you're within the height restriction.
  • Infringement - "an exhibitor's unauthorized use of floor space outside the leased booth area" (as defined by EXHIBITOR Magazine). Basically, this means that any of your company's booth representatives, including product demonstrators, must remain within the boundaries of your company's exhibit space during the show. If any of your booth representatives block the aisles or restrict access to other exhibitors' booths, you could be penalized by show management.
  • Island display - an exhibit with aisles on all four sides. Many island displays are at least 20' x 20' in size.
  • Jigging - protection located inside of exhibit shipping crates; specifically, the padding and sectional dividers that protect your display from damage during transit.
  • Las Vegas approved - a term used to refer to light fixtures which meet regulations imposed by the Las Vegas Convention Center and Visitors Authority (also known as the LVCVA). Read more on the LVCVA's guidelines here.
  • Material handling - see drayage.
  • Peninsula display - similar to an island display, but with aisles on 3 sides.
  • Pillowcase - describes a fabric graphic that's sewn to look like a pillowcase. This type of graphic is designed to slip easily over a free-standing structure. A zipper is normally installed along the bottom edge of the graphic to keep it taut and ensure that it remains on the frame.
  • Pipe and drape - a system provided by many show organizers to divide up booth spaces. Pipe and drape systems are comprised of a lightweight, tubular frame (usually aluminum) that's covered with fabric, giving it a curtain-like appearance. The frame consists of bases, upright posts, and a horizontal support; the drape fabric is spread lengthwise over the horizontal support. Drape fabrics and colors vary from show to show.
  • Pop-up - a type of display frame that's engineered to literally "pop up." The design allows for easy assembly, and pop-ups pack down smaller than large, custom booths. Newer pop-ups' designs even allow for fabric graphics to remain on the frame during transit and storage periods.
  • Pre-show marketing - advertising directed at show attendees prior to the start of a marketing event. Pre-show marketing can include e-mail blasts, mailers, printed materials, and promotional products (t-shirts, mugs, etc.).
  • Qualifying - a process used to determine whether an individual has the authority and/or financial capability to buy a product or service that your company offers.
  • Raster art - artwork that's comprised of pixels, rather than vectored shapes and lines. Unlike vectored art, if raster art is scaled up too much during printing, it will become pixelated or blurry.
  • Retractable banner stand - a banner stand with graphics that retract into its base unit, allowing for easy storage and shipping.
  • Show manual - information that's provided to exhibitors by show management regarding policies, procedures, and deadlines for a particular event. It's very important to familiarize yourself with its contents BEFORE going to your show!
  • Tension fabric - a term used to describe fabric graphics that are designed to be stretched out over a frame. The frame hardware is usually manufactured from aluminum.
  • Vectored art - art that's infinitely scalable without degradation of quality. Vectored art is created using shapes and lines, with programs such as Adobe Illustrator. Compare to raster art.
  • Vetting - see qualifying.


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