I've heard the question asked many times, "Why would we hire an outside company to install and dismantle our trade show booth, rather than the general contractor?" Let me explain the differences to help your decision easier:
The General Contractor (GC) is the standard union labor worker offered at the show for you to hire. They are usually hired as temporary employees on a show-to-show basis. The GC has literally no ties to the company they are installing for and most of the time you will never meet the person who is handling your $40,000.00+ booth. They are handed instructions when they arrive at your booth space on how to assemble it, where the graphics go, what literature you have, how many crates were supposed to be dropped off, et cetera. As soon as they are done installing your booth, no matter how long it takes…they are off the next booth space and most likely never to be found again. I am not saying that these workers are not good at what they do; I just know that accountability is a hard thing to ensure when they are expected to install numerous booths from 8:00 am till 4:30 pm each day, with little to no knowledge prior to showing up.
Exhibitor Appointed Contractors (EACs) are a team of experts that you hire in lieu of the GC, to install and dismantle your display. EACs are most often full-time employees that are event and trade show skilled workers. They tend to have more knowledge of your display - they have access to instructions and photos of your booth prior to the event. They review the installation and create a team to work together prior to your move in date of the show. They have full contact with you during the install and after to be sure everything is meeting or exceeding your expectations. If questions arise, as they likely do, they are able to contact you and clarify your needs and expectations. Most EACs are reachable thru-out the show and will likely be the same people taking the booth down, packing it up, and shipping it back to you. Being that the EACs are hired individually by you the client there is more accountability. An EAC works for YOU - they represent you interests and want to make sure the process goes as seamlessly as possible. They make every effort to complete the job in the allotted time that was quoted to you. If something unforeseen occurs they will notify you of the delay and any extra hours if needed. With an EAC, you will not be blind-sided at the close of the show with overage expenses that you were not made aware of.
Tradeshows are an investment. You have already invested good money into the design of your display and products, so I hope that you also invest in the way your booth is handled. The mishaps and damages that can occur from someone installing your booth incorrectly, or carelessly unpacking and packing it can really take a toll on your marketing budget, not to mention, your stress levels! So, take care of your investment - shop around for the best EAC that will take care of you and your display. Look for a company you can partner with for all your shows. You will likely find some very creditable companies who are competitively priced with the labor cost of the GC's out there, and you will be able to rest easy knowing that your investment is taken care.