Trade Show TalesBlog

Exclusive E2MA Study about the Rising Costs of General Service Contractor Services

January 2nd, 2013 4 COMMENTS

The E2MA (Exhibit and Event Marketers Association) has spent two years on a study that presents factual data about the rising costs of exclusive services provided by General Service Contractors (GSC). We’ve all “known this,” but now there’s a summary of actual facts and data that makes it real. No trend jeopardizes the full recovery and future of the trade show industry more than this.

Please take a few minutes to download and review. Share, share, share with anyone and everyone who has a vested interest in trade shows and trade show marketing.

Download the E2MA PDF Slideshow Presentation

Successful Meetings summarized the findings and recommendations in the online article:  E2MA: Trade Show Organizers Must Negotiate Lower Costs for Exhibitors.

“In response to its findings, E2MA has recommended a course of action that’s based on full disclosure and better control of costs. For instance, it advocates “game changers” such as bringing general contracting in house and eliminating exclusive show services, as well as the following “simple” solutions:

  • Disclosing all show management rebates and discounts to exhibitors;
  • Understanding what exhibitors are paying, identifying pain points and negotiating on their behalf;
  • Providing all costs up front in the exhibitor prospectus;
  • Simplifying show rates and rules; and
  • Eliminating the practice of discounting exclusive services and combining with other non-exclusive services.”

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or



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4 Responses to “Exclusive E2MA Study about the Rising Costs of General Service Contractor Services”

  1. Mel says:

    Please take a little time to review the slideshow data. Drayage costs continue to skyrocket, and bundling has gotten worse.

  2. Aaron says:

    IMHO- as long as unions control labor ( i.e. no competition) this will never change, drayage rates are 3 or 4x what they were.
    It is particularly evident when making turn key proposals to foreign based customers.
    Is it any wonder companies find much better return on their marketing resources using other forms of media
    for outreach?

  3. Aaron…while I agree with you about the exorbitant cost of union labor in some markets being a real challenge to affordable exhibiting (my company is an I&D labor provider in 20 cities and we’re required to have union labor contracts in most of those cities just to operate as an EAC company), I think you missed the real message in this study.

    It is not union labor that is driving up material handling (drayage) costs.

    And technically , venue cities which require union labor are not “no competition” work environments. For sure, it is a factor that drives up labor costs. But all EACs that operate in those cities have union contracts, and it creates a lot of labor choices for exhibitors…”competition”… at slightly different price levels based on each EACs value proposition. By definition, this labor is not an exclusive service; we can all sign a union contract and offer this service.

    This report by E2MA really analyzes the disturbing facts about the costs of EXCLUSIVE services provided at shows. Services such as material handling. And electrical service. Cleaning and porter service is also exclusive at shows.

    And the only entity that provides exclusive services at shows is the General Contractor.

    When you compare the rate of cost increases for these exclusive services to the rate of increase of the non-exclusive services, well…you’ll see the truly disturbing trend.

    Please give it another read, Aaron. I think the more of us that understand this, and that get our exhibitor clients talking to show producers and their associations about this (LOUDLY), the better chance there will be

  4. (damn iPad!)….

    …the better chance there will be to affect change.

    Didn’t mean to sound preachy here. Just trying to make sure we’re outraged about the right thing!

    Chris Griffin
    E2MA Board Member

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