Many of us trade show professionals often forget that we speak in terms that are unique to our industry. Terms that do not translate to other businesses and industries. Not only is this comical, it reinforces the incredible efficiency of our industry. However, self awareness is important when working with clients from other industries or if you decide to make a career shift. Let’s take some time to go over the top 5 trade show phrases with covert meanings!

The Top 5 Trade Show Phrases with Covert Meanings

1. I need my quote right away.

In the trade show industry, nearly every job has a custom element to it. In most industries, clients and industry professionals expect longer quote times from suppliers with custom products. Coming from the construction industry, if someone asks for a quote right away, typically that phrase means I am asking for for project to be a priority. The expectation is typically a few days or a couple weeks to get a quote. Many other industries operate the same way, especially when there is a custom element to the order.

In the trade show industry, when a client or supplier states, “I need my quote right away” it is understood that this means, “I need this yesterday” or “I need this as fast as humanly possible.” When I first entered the industry over 15 years ago, I figured this one out very quickly the hard way. Basically, the trade show industry is like the construction industry if it had an IV drip of taurine. Everything operates on an incredibly fast paced level due to the immense amount of details required to execute a show, in a matter of a few days. The best advice I can offer is to get the quote over in less than an hour, or clearly communicate the expected timeline to the customer.

2. How easy is it to assemble?

This phrase is used in the industry to communicate that the client is looking for a display they can assemble themselves. Another element to consider is most trade show exhibitors are not trade show display or construction experts. A display may be easy for us, an experienced labor team, or someone with a mechanical background to install. However, if a client is asking how easy is it to install, they are typically suggesting they want to install it themselves to reduce the cost and hassle of trade show labor.

Our method of working through this simple, yet loaded question, is to provide installation videos and instructions on our website so the customer is able to see the install process. We also have developed a simple set of questions to properly guide our clients to the right trade show product.

  • Are you looking to assemble this yourself or use show labor?
  • How experienced are you (or your staff) at installing trade show displays?
  • How much weight are you comfortable transporting yourself?

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These simple questions usually narrow down the options very quickly! When it comes to show labor, make sure to direct the customer to ask for an estimate from show labor on a specific product before they buy. Many companies, like OnLocation, are very experienced with all kinds of trade show displays and can easily provide an accurate estimate.

3. What is your fastest turnaround time?

If a trade show exhibitor or industry professional is asking this question, they are hoping for an answer of less than 24 hours. In most cases this is not possible and most exhibitors understand this. However, most projects operate on a very fast schedule that is usually less than week, unless it’s a fully custom project. Additionally, unexpected circumstances may occur which add additional pressure to the project.

What is the covert meaning behind this phrase? The customer has a specific date they need the product delivered or assembled. Make sure to ask the customer when they need your product or service to ensure you can meet the timeline and upgrade to expedited shipping if needed.

4. Is that the best price you can offer?

When this question is asked, the customer or show coordinator is probably already over budget and looking to minimize the budget overage. This also means the client is very likely to go with the lowest cost supplier for an equivalent product. It is very rare to get a client that has not already scoured the internet for the best pricing. In this circumstance, its best to offer the customer your lowest bid upfront. What if you know your are not the lowest cost supplier? Highlight your companies strong points to illustrate the value your company offers. Some of these include:

5. Can you meet my critical delivery/install date?

This is my favorite question because it’s not a question at all. Regardless of what a contract says, if a third party is involved, or if inclement weather comes into play, this phrase is the holy grail of verbal trade show contracts. As an industry professional, promising to meet a critical date for a trade show means you take on the responsibility of being the punching bag if something goes wrong. It doesn’t mean you are actually responsible or financially liable for a snow storm that delays shipping, however the customer will send their frustrations your way. If you are going to promise a due date make sure everything is done correctly and make sure to inform the customer of any variables that could possibly impact their order.

The easiest way to deal with the The Top 5 Trade Show Phrases with Covert Meanings is to assign overt communication to these questions. Understanding the implied meaning gives us, as professionals, the tools needed to understand how to best provide for our customers. There are way more than 5, what is your favorite industry phrase with a covert meaning? Let us know in the comments!