Veterans of the trade show industry can converse effortlessly in trade show jargon. The expo rookies, however, may not know the trade show terminology. The following is a glossary of common trade show terms.
Portable displays featuring a frame (usually made of tubular aluminum connected in a scissors configuration) that allows it to easily stretch up and out. Generally, plastic or magnetic clips keep the structure open. Panels and/or graphics hang from the face of the pop-up display to carry your marketing message.
Retractables or Roll Ups
Small, lightweight, portable displays featuring a graphic panel that unrolls from its own base, much like a reverse window shade. The top of the graphic panel is attached to a horizontal aluminum bar, which hooks or clips onto a pole implanted into the base.
A lightweight and portable hardware system that allows the user to display a freestanding banner, eliminating the need for grommets, overhead cables, pole-pockets, etc. Banner stands are similar to the retractable stands, but the banner itself must be manually rolled up.
Portable displays with pockets for fliers and/or brochures, which collapse, fold or roll up for easy transportation. Different racks can be made of nylon mesh, metal or polycarbonate.
A hard molded plastic case (normally with wheels, a handle and latches) used for transporting or shipping a display to and from trade shows. This item is also used to store the display between events. With an appropriate covering, it can also be used in your booth as a podium for literature or a laptop.
A banner, either on vinyl or fabric, which is fitted to a frame (often made from aluminum tubing) that is suspended from the ceiling with a harness and steel cable. They come in several configurations, including a circle, square and triangle.
A system that boasts the look and feel of a custom display, without the high price tag and the need for major construction. While not as simple to set up as a portable display, a modular system is a good balance between portables and custom-built systems.
Many displays either come with lights, or lights are available as an option. The fire codes in Las Vegas are harsher than elsewhere when it comes to lighting. Per the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Handbook, “Halogen lamps are limited to 75 watts and must be of the sealed variety, which prevents direct handling of the bulb.” When ordering your lights, specify whether you need Las Vegas-approved lights. LED lights will meet the Vegas fire code.
Update: Most preferred brands have made the switch to LED.
Plastic and/or aluminum bars with magnets, which clip onto the frame of a pop-up display and enable graphic panels to be attached to the display.
The fuzzy “carpet” panels that are hung on a pop-up display. The panels are “Velcro receptive,” meaning that they act as the “loop” Velcro; the hook (spiky) Velcro on the back of graphics clings to it. These are no longer in widespread use.
Booth or Booth Space
The size of the floor area you are renting for the show. Typical spaces begin at 10 feet wide by 10 feet deep (10 x 10), and the next size up is usually 20 feet wide by 10 feet deep (10 x 20). A display is not a booth; a display goes into the booth.
Pipe & Drape
Dividers supplied by the exhibit hall to define each booth space. Aptly named, they are made of inexpensive drapes hanging from metal pipe. Generally, an 8-foot tall back wall and two much lower side walls will comprise the pipe & drape for a 10 x 10 space.