Useful Trade Show Terms Glossary

Rubi Arroyo
October 11, 2023

This useful guide covers all of the common Trade Show terms used in the industry. Stay current as you head into the upcoming Trade Show season!


  • Advanced Order-An order for show services sent to the contractor before move-in.
  • Air Freight-Materials shipped via airplane.
  • Air Walls-Movable barriers that partition large areas. May be sound resistant, but not necessarily soundproof.
  • Aisle Signs-Signs, usually suspended, indicating aisle numbers or letters.
  • Audio/Visual-Equipment, materials and teaching aids used in sound and visual. (Also A/V)


  • Backloader - Truck, which loads from back opening door.
  • Backwall - Panel arrangement at rear of booth area.
  • Backwall Booth-Perimeter booth
  • Baffle-Partition to control light, air, sound, or traffic flow.
  • Bill of Lading (B/L or BOL)-Document of form listing goods to be shipped.
  • Blanket Wrap-Non-crated freight shipped via van line covered with protective blankets or padding.
  • Blister Wrap-Vacuum formed transparent plastic cover.
  • Bone Yard-Contractor storage area at show site.
  • Booth Number-Number designated to identify each exhibitor’s space.


  • Canopy-Drapery, awning, or other room-like covering.
  • Capacity-Maximum number of people allowed in any given area.
  • Carpenter-Union that is responsible for uncrating of exhibits and display materials, installation and dismantle of exhibits including cabinets, fixtures, shelving units, furniture, etc., laying of floor tile and carpet, and recrating of exhibits and machinery.
  • Cherry Picker-Equipment capable of lifting a person (s) to a given height. (Also HIGH JACKER, SCISSOR LIFT)
  • Chevron-Type of cloth used for backdrops.
  • Corkage-The charge placed on beer, liquor, and wine brought into the facility but purchased elsewhere. The charge sometimes includes glassware, ice and mixers.
  • Cross Bar-Rod used in draping or as a support brace.
  • Cut & Lay-Installation of carpet other than normal booth or aisle size.
  • CWT-Hundred weight. A weight measurement for exhibit freight. Usually 100 pounds.


  • Decorating-Dressing up exhibition with carpet, draping, plants, etc.
  • Decorator-Union that is responsible for hanging all signs except electrical signs, drape and cloth installation, and tacked fabric panels.
  • Direct Billing-Accounts receivable mailed to individuals or firms with established credit.
  • Dismantle-Take down and removal of exhibits.
  • Display Builder-Company, which fabricates displays.
  • Dock-A place where freight is loaded onto and taken away from vehicles. (Also see LOADING DOCK)
  • Dolly-Low, flat, usually two feet square, platform on four wheels used for carrying heavy loads.
  • Drayage-The unloading of your shipment, transporting it to your booth, storing and returning your empty crates and cartons, and reloading your shipment at the close of the show.
  • Drayage Charge-The dollar costs based on weight. 100-pound units, or hundredweight, abbreviated CWT, calculates drayage. There is usually a minimum charge.
  • Duplex Outlet-Double electrical outlet.


  • Electrical Contractor - Company contracted by Show Management to provide electrical services to the exhibitors.
  • Electrician - Union that handles installation of all electrical equipment.
  • Empty Crate - Reusable packing container in which exhibit materials were shipped. When properly marked with “EMPTY” sticker indicating booth number and company name, they are removed, stored, and returned at no charge.
  • Exclusive Contractor - Contractor appointed by show or building management as the sole agent to provide services. (AKA Official Contractor)
  • Exhibit Booth - Individual display area constructed to exhibit products or convey a message.
  • Exhibit Directory - (Also known as Show Guide) Program book for attendees listing exhibitors and exhibit booth location.
  • Exhibit Manager - Person in charge of the individual exhibit booth.


  • Fire Exit - Door, clear of obstructions, designated by local authorities to egress.
  • Fire Retardant - Term used to describe a finish (usually liquid) which coats materials with a fire-resistant cover.
  • Flameproof - Term used to describe material, which is, or has been treated to be fire-retardant.
  • Floor Manager - Person retained by show management to supervise exhibit area and assist exhibitors. Floor Marking-Method of marking booth space.
  • Floor Order - Goods and/or services ordered on-site.
  • Floor Plan - A map showing layout of exhibit spaces.
  • Foam Core - Lightweight material with a Styrofoam center used for signs, decorating, and exhibit construction.
  • Fork Lift - Vehicle with power-operated pronged platform for lifting and carrying loads.
  • Freight - Exhibit properties, products and other materials shipped for an exhibit.
  • Freight Aisle - Aisle to remain clear for incoming freight.
  • Freight Forwarder - Shipping company.
  • Full Booth Coverage - Carpet covering entire area of booth.


  • Garment Rack - Frame, which holds apparel.
  • General Contractor - Company, which provides all services to exhibition management and exhibitors.
  • Guarantee - The number or servings to be paid for, whether or not they are actually consumed; usually required forty-eight hours in advance.


  • Hand Carryable - Items that one person can carry unaided (meaning, no hand trucks or dollies).
  • Hand Truck - Small hand-propelled implement with two wheels and two handles for transporting small loads.
  • Hardwall Booth - Booth constructed with plywood or similar material as opposed to a booth formed by drapery only.
  • Header - Overhead illuminated display sign.
  • Hospitality Suite - Room or suite of rooms used to entertain guests.


  • I&D - install and dismantle.
  • ID Sign - Booth identification sign.
  • Illuminations - Lighting available in hall, built into exhibit, or available on a rental basis.
  • Infringement - Use of floor space outside exclusive booth area.
  • Inherent Flameproof - Material that is permanently flame resistant without chemical treatment.
  • Installation - Setting up exhibit booth and materials according to instructions and drawings.
  • Island Booth - An exhibit space with aisles on all four sides.


  • Job Foreman - One who is in charge of specific projects.


  • Kiosk - Freestanding pavilion or light structure.


  • Labor - Refers to contracted workers who perform services.
  • Labor Call - Method of securing union employees.
  • Labor Desk - On-site area from which service personnel are dispatched.
  • Light Box - Enclosure with lighting and translucent face of plastic or glass.
  • Loading Dock - Area on premises where goods are received.
  • Lobby - Public area which serves as an entrance or waiting area.
  • Lock-up - Storage area which can be locked up.


  • Marshalling Yard - Check-in area for trucks delivering exhibit material.
  • Modular Exhibit - Exhibit constructed with interchangeable components.
  • Move-In - Date set for installation. Process of setting up exhibits.
  • Move-Out - Date set for dismantling. Process of dismantling exhibits.
  • Mylar - Trade name for plastic material.


  • Net Square Feet - The amount of space occupied by exhibits in a facility, not including aisles, columns, registration area, etc.
  • No Freight Aisle - Aisle that must be left clear at all times during set-up and dismantle. Used to deliver freight, remove empty boxes and trash, and in case of emergency.


  • Official Contractor - General contractor or decorator.
  • On-Site Order - Floor order placed at show site.
  • On-Site Registration - Process of signing up for an event on the day of, or at the site of, the event.
  • O.T. Labor -Work performed on overtime. Work performed before 8:00am and after 4:40pm Monday through Friday, and all hours on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.


  • Package Plan -Management providing furniture and/or services to exhibitors for a single fee.
  • Padded Van Shipment-Shipment of crated or uncrated goods such as product or display materials. (Also VAN SHIPMENT, AIR-RIDE).
  • Pallet-Wooden platform used to carry goods. (Also SKID)
  • Pegboard Panel-Framed panel of perforated hardboard.
  • Perimeter Booth-Exhibit space located on an outside wall.
  • Pipe and Drape - Tubing with drapes, which separate exhibit booths.
  • Planting-Floral décor to enhance the appearance of the exhibition.
  • Pre-registered-Registration which has been made in advance with necessary paperwork.
  • Press Room-Space reserved for media representatives.
  • POV-A privately owned vehicle, such as a passenger car, van, or small company vehicle, as distinguished from trucks, tractor-trailers, and other over-the-road vehicles. A POV left unattended will almost certainly be towed away. If you must unload a POV, use the POV line. (See below).
  • POV Line-Special loading dock reserved for POV’s where materials are unloaded at prevailing drayage rates. To get on a POV line, driver reports first to marshalling area.
  • Private Security-Security personnel hired from a privately operated company. (Also BOOTH SECURITY)
  • Pro-Number-Number designated by the freight forwarders to a single shipment, used in all cases where the shipment must be referred to.


  • Quad Box -Four electrical outlets in one box.


  • Rail - Low drape divider between exhibit booths. (Also SIDE RAIL)
  • Rear-Lit-Method of lighting transparency from behind.
  • Registration-Process by which an individual indicates their intent to attend a trade show.
  • Rental Booth-Complete booth package offered to exhibitors on a rental basis.
  • Rigger-Union that is responsible for crating, unskidding, positioning, and reskidding of all machinery.
  • Riser-A platform for people or product.


  • Security Cages-Cages rented by exhibitors to lock up materials.
  • Service Charge-Charge for the services of waiters/waitresses, housemen, technicians, and other food function personnel.
  • Shop-Service contractor’s main office and warehouse.
  • Showcard-Material used for signs.
  • Showcase-Glass-enclosed case for articles on display.
  • Show Manager-Person responsible for all aspects of exhibition.
  • Show Office-Management office at exhibition.
  • Shrink Wrap-Process of wrapping loose items on pallet with transparent plastic wrapping.
  • Side Rail-Low divider wall in exhibit area, usually 36” high.
  • Skirting-Decorative covering around tables/risers.
  • Smoker-Ash stand.
  • Space Assignment-Booth space assigned to exhibiting companies.
  • Space Rate-Cost per square foot for exhibit area.
  • Special Handling-Applies to display and/or product shipment requiring extra labor, equipment, or time in delivery to booth area.
  • Staging Area-Area adjacent to main event area for setup, dismantling, and temporary storage.
  • Stanchions-Decorative posts which hold markers or flags to define traffic areas. Ropes or chains may be attached.
  • Stop Job-When an exhibitor is doing some type of work in the booth which is claimed by a union, that union’s steward will request that you go to the service desk so that the contractor can supply the exhibitor union labor.
  • S.T. Labor-Work performed on straight time. Usually work performed 8:00am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.


Target Date-Move-in date assigned to exhibitors over 300 square feet by the general contractor and the show management.

Teamster-Union that handles all material in and out of the hall except machinery. Exhibitors are permitted to hand carry small packages into the hall.

Tent-Portable canvas shelter for outside.

Time & Materials-Method for charging services on a cost-plus basis. (Also T & M)

Traffic Flow-Movement of people throughout an area.


Union-An organization of workers formed for mutual protection and for the purpose of dealing collectively with their employer in wages, hours, working conditions and other matters pertaining to their employment.

Union Steward-On-site union official.


Velcro-Material used for fastening.


Waste Removal-Removal of trash from the building.

Let's Get to Work!

Get in touch today to see how we can help!
Protrade Logistics is ready to deliver, so you can too.