What is a Show Decorator and Should You be Using Them?

A show decorator can be a useful asset to have when working to create the overall look and feel of your booth onsite – and of course, it’s always nice (and sometimes essential) to have an extra set of hands during setup and tear down! But a show decorator is an extra expense, so it can be hard to determine if it’s worth it or not.

First things first...what is a show decorator? A show decorator is a partner of the show or venue that offers services and items for rent to exhibitors. Services can include material handling (aka drayage), setup/tear down labor, sign rigging and cleaning. You can also often times rent full displays, decorative pieces (such as tables and couches), and useful items (such as wastebaskets). Some show decorators offer everything you could imagine, while others only have a number of services/items available.   

No two show situations are the same, so there’s no hard and fast rules on whether to use a show decorator or not. It all depends on first, whether or not the venue or show even has a show decorator to utilize. Second, if the show or venue requires you to use their show decorator. Make sure to take a close look at exhibitor information to determine if using a show decorator is required. This is typical if you have a larger display.

If it’s not required and a decorator is available, but you’re still unsure, it’s all about examining your event marketing strategy. Be sure to take a look at:

How many people are needed to set up your display. Do you think you’ll need extra hands or are the people you already have planned to attend able to set up the display on their own? If extra help is needed, a show decorator may be a cheaper option (with additional benefits) than sending additional setup crew.

How your display is being shipped. Does your display need to be sent to an advanced warehouse? Can it be sent to your hotel, or is it a crate that needs material handling services?  How your display is being shipped and how it will arrive at the show can be the difference between needing a show decorator and not – especially if you need storage, such as if your display arrives in a crate that you cannot fit in your space.  

If your display includes a hanging banner. If so, you’ll need rigging services – which a show decorator can supply and help coordinate.

If your booth needs assets like flooring or a display. If you do not plan on buying, renting or leasing a display for your event program, the show decorator can most likely assist with display assets or an entire display for that particular event. Watch costs here though!

If the event runs for a while. In this case, you may need cleaning services, which a show decorator can provide and coordinate.

Sold on utilizing show decorator services? Great! Here are some tips to make the entire process smooth sailing.

  • Pictures, layouts and instructions are great to send to the decorator in advance so you’re all on the same page.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or make special requests!
  • Take advantage of any and all discounts available by ordering in advance.
  • Closely read all paperwork that applies to you.
  • Make sure the decorator receives your order – you should receive an order confirmation.
  • Closely review your invoice to ensure you are not being charged for items you did not order, the correct rates were applied and correct weights and hours are being applied.
  • If you’re ordering labor, sometimes it’s best to invest in supervised labor as you receive the best of the best laborers.

If you have any further tips, feel free to share below!

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