10 tough pain points RFP questions to ask your trade show exhibit house - header

10 “Pain Point” RFP Questions to Ask Your Exhibit Vendor

Looking for the ideal trade show exhibit partner? A provider with equal parts design chops, strategic thinking, responsive customer service, and impeccable reliability in making it all happen?  You’ve got company.

Part of your search may include sending an RFP (Request for Proposal) to several exhibit houses. You ask every potential company to answer the same questions, to uncover the partner offering that best matches the needs of your trade show program.

trade show exhibit house vendor RFP questions

We’ve received multiple RFPs over the past few years that have revealed important pain points exhibitors are trying to alleviate. Below we share those pain point questions, so you can consider them for your own RFP and better understand how Holt Experiential can help solve your most pressing problems.

1. What are the best ways to control trade show costs?

The best ways to control trade show costs include:

  • Modular exhibit components with fabric graphics to reduce shipping and drayage costs.
  • Sourcing of rental exhibits and materials closer to the show city.
  • Bidding out shipping and I&D to multiple potential service providers.
  • Use of Holt traveling supervisors when economical and appropriate.
  • Consolidating shipping into as few containers as possible
  • Having the same exhibit service technicians handle the pre-show preview at your exhibit vendor’s warehouse, then do the on-site exhibit installation at show site.
  • Avoiding hanging signs unless needed to remain competitive on the show floor.
  • Gaining visibility to the company’s entire show schedule (by booth size, division, tier level, and dates) to better design exhibit structures and graphics that can adapt to different show and messaging needs, to know when rental will provide a better value, and to identify show-to-show shipping opportunities.

2. How does your exhibit vendor deal with overlapping shows?

In these instances, Holt reviews the events and determines the most efficient way to execute both events based on location, local resources, service level required, owned inventory, and available rental inventory.  We have the manpower and resources in place to execute multiple overlapping events and do so every day of the year.

3. How does your exhibit vendor handle shipping?

controlling trade show exhibit shipping costs

Control of freight costs begins with the design of the project, and our creative and project management teams work to identify issues during discovery to minimize and control them before they occur. With over 45 years of trade show experience, our staff has extensive experience organizing and shipping assets to and from events. We understand the importance of timelines and unnecessary excess costs that occur when targeted move-in/move-out dates are missed.

We reach out to our various freight partners to obtain quotes to secure the most cost-effective and reliable carrier for each event. We have multiple national freight contracts. We always request at least 3 competitive bids from our vetted 3rd party freight suppliers. Freight estimates are based on crate/pallet dimensions and weight.

If a shipment is between a half truck load or more, we will also request pricing for a dedicated truck. We have found oftentimes dedicated trucks are sometimes cheaper than pricing based on dimensional weight. Any discounts that Holt Experiential receives from our carriers will be passed along to our clients. Conversely, Holt is happy to allow the client to schedule, track, and audit its own freight. Holt only requires an accurate Bill of Lading and advanced notice as to when assets will be picked up.

*Best Practice Tip* Estimate your freight early for budgeting, then have us reconfirm current rates as the ship date draws closer.

4. Do we work with the same account person for both big and small shows?

Yes, your account manager will always be the main point of contact.  They will lead the team dedicated to your company. This team includes the creative director, project manager, lead service technician, and exhibit management program administrator. Behind this team are other creatives, project managers, engineers, service technicians, and traveling supervisors, along with local resources where the show is occurring. They all work in support of the account team.

5. How do you support us at a trade show installation?

In advance of shows requiring onsite labor, our account managers, project manager, and Holt service team meet with the onsite labor partner to review the booth, install plan, and review show service orders.  If a Holt supervisor is requested for the show, they will arrive the day before the setup and will work with the onsite team to get everything show-ready. The traveling techs are typically the same ones that set the booth up in the warehouse to help avoid onsite delays.

6. How do we know what exhibits and items we have in storage with you?

trade show exhibit storage asset management Holt Experiential

You will have access to our online inventory and ordering system 24/7, so you can always check the real-time inventory and location of assets (in the warehouse or out at events).  We encourage our clients to review and purge their inventories on an annual basis. We do this review virtually or in-person.

7. What is your back-up plan if there is failure on-site at a trade show?

In 45 years of serving clients with their trade shows we never have missed a show. We always have a Plan B. That Plan B is prepared ahead of time and involves local rental suppliers, local graphic houses, local secondary labor networks that have been vetted over our decades in business.

8. Should we purchase or rent our trade show exhibits?

purchase or rent trade show exhibit

Generally owning exhibits is less expensive in the long run. However, most companies today are driven by CFO’s that are more focused on profitability and they prefer to expense events, rather than capitalize event costs. Often times, it’s the general accounting philosophy of the CFO that drives a company to buy or rent trade show exhibit assets. Either path is fine and will yield favorable results.

9. How do we communicate with our exhibit vendor, especially after hours?

Your main contact would be the Account Manager for customer service-related concerns, including after-hours calls.  They are available by phone, email or text.  In addition, your company would be granted a dedicated team with direct and nearly 24/7 access to creative, service, and asset management admins.

10. How does your exhibit vendor handle estimates, prices, and final billing?

Quoting and pricing are opened and closed on specific projects. We begin each project (event or experience) with a discovery meeting that leads to our developing a formal SOW. Once a SOW is ratified, we begin the design and budgeting phase. Here we develop the experience digitally and present renderings and/or animations of the planned solution with estimated pricing.

Once design parameters and budget are ratified, we price out the project and present a not-to-exceed physical execution quotation. These may include multiple levels of execution, allowing our clients some flexibility in pricing. During the production and execution phase, any requested modifications to the project will be addressed through a change-order process.

Post show reconciliation will occur within 60 days to review and finalize change-orders and actual numbers for shipping and labor. We have enterprise clients that have been with us for 15+ years, and we retain these clients through deliberate planning and execution.

Consider Holt Experiential for Your Next Exhibit House RFP

We hope these 10 questions help you find your ideal exhibit vendor. We welcome the opportunity to compete for your business. Our team is highly qualified to propel your trade show success, with a strong collective skillset of exhibit design, event strategy and planning, customer service, and agile problem solving.