Send your tough questions about exhibiting to Rebecca Huls
Shipping Liability
I recently shipped several boxes of booth materials,
and only half the boxes arrived. Who is liable for the
lost shipments? Can I expect to get reimbursed?

Liability for lost or damaged shipments is based on written
documents, such as delivery receipts, terms and conditions, and dated signatures on the bill of lading.

A carrier is responsible for most loss or damage to a shipment from the time it is picked up until it’s dropped off. If you don’t note any damage or missing items when you accept and sign for a delivery, the liability transfers to you.

Every carrier has specified limits of liability coverage. Unless you choose to increase those limits by declaring a value on the bill of lading, there is a weight-based financial cap on liability for loss or damage. A typical limit is 50 cents per pound.

For example, if you ship 500 pounds of window displays, and they arrive in 500 pieces, the most you could be reimbursed for the destroyed shipment is $250 (50 cents per pound) — assuming you didn’t throw out your documents that indicate the carrier is responsible.

If you want to increase the carrier’s liability limits, you can pay a fee and declare a specific value on the bill of lading, $5,000 for example. Then you would receive $5,000 for the windows. If only half of the shipment (by weight) is lost or destroyed, the liability is halved, and you would be awarded $2,500, regardless of whether the damaged windows were more valuable than those not damaged.

To get the maximum protection against loss and damage of your shipped materials, you should purchase all-risk insurance. It is available for a relatively low cost from some carriers and most insurance agencies.

— Tim DiMasi, president, EAX Worldwide Inc., San Diego
Hiring Trade Show Talent
I’m an exhibit manager for a small company, and we’re
considering using outside talent to staff our booth. What should I look for when hiring staffers?

You should always work withan agency that is licensed
and insured, and specializes in the trade show industry. The best agencies are nationwide in scope and have a wide range of talent to choose from.

First, determine what specific job functions you are looking for. For example, you could hire staff to man the front desk, gather crowds for a presentation, conduct one-on-one demonstrations, or deliver a scripted live presentation.

Staffers should be able to quickly learn about your company’s products and services. It’s also important to look for people that can be upbeat for eight hours a day, three or four days straight. Most trade show talent work weekly on trade show floors, so they have honed their skills in these areas.

Hiring a local, experienced person from a reputable agency can cost you less than using an employee from your home office. If you consider the costs of airfare, hotel, meals, and ground transportation, not to mention the work that isn’t getting done back at the office — it all adds up.  

— Jim Spencer, director of business development, J Williams Agency, Roswell, GA
In the Way
Our sales reps help staff our exhibit and they often
use their time in the booth to learn more about our equipment. This ties up our product demos and the sales staff. What can I do to stop this without discouraging their future involvement in our trade show program?
The first step to better utilizing your sales reps is to communicate your expectations and ask them about theirs. Then you can work together to meet both of your objectives. Here are several ideas to help you solve your problem without kicking the reps out of the booth.

Communicate up front. Prior to the show, send a memo to each rep asking if he or she will attend the show. Offer to process a pre-registration badge or hotel reservation in exchange for his or her agenda. Once you know the attendance plans, you can assign hours to work and clearly outline your expectations.

Include them. Copy reps on all pre-show memos. Invite them to attend the pre-show meeting and clearly state that no product training will take place on the show floor.

Provide product-training cards. Create handheld information cards the reps can use to train themselves. That way they won’t tie up the valuable time of your salespeople.

Ask sales to help. Schedule specific reps to go to lunch with
their regional managers. That way, they can talk off-line.

Give them useful assignments. Sometimes reps waste their time because they don’t have anything else to do. Make them feel useful by asking them to fill out “intelligence reports” about your exhibiting competitors.

Be firm. If none of this helps, politely tell the rep that his or her actions are interfering with valuable sales efforts.

Remember that reps are often the closest link to your customers. Good communications and clear expectations can turn them into excellent staffers. 

Back to Top