Trade Show TalesBlog

Urban Exhibitionary

June 22nd, 2011 20 COMMENTS

Beginning in mid-July, Classic Exhibits and ClassicMODUL will run a series of banner ads in the ExhibitorOnline weekly e-broadcast. Most of you receive this email every Thursday or Friday from EXHIBITOR Magazine.

We’ll showcase a new banner ad each week (for 18 weeks). We decided to mimic the Urban Dictionary, but with exhibit industry terms and definitions. We call it the Urban Exhibitionary. To prime the pump, we reached out to some industry friends for ideas, and some of their clever definitions are listed below, but this is merely the first step to creating a comprehensive exhibit dictionary. We want your witty ideas and would love to use the best ones in the ads.

Here are some of the more interesting ones so far.


Blink: Special effects lighting that’s often used to compensate for a not-so-great display. Blink rules the dance floor, but isn’t quite as flashy as its rapper cousin, Bling.

That company’s got so much Blink on display, I couldn’t even read their sign.


Masterwaiting: Realizing you’re going to have to “go it alone” on the big presentation when your boss is delayed.

Please check on the flight status for Mr. K’s arrival, I’m in the hallway just Masterwaiting and the customer looks pretty anxious.


TTWN: Too Tired for Wednesday Night.

I know it’s the last night of EXHIBITOR, but I’m TTWN.


Port-not-able: Unwieldy, overweight exhibits that carry the claim “portable.”

At 300 lbs., that display goes in the Port-not-able Hall of Shame.


Face-to-Space: Used to describe “virtual” events and teleconferences.

Trade shows will always be the place to be seen. It’s impossible to close the deal when you’re working Face-to-Space.


Assertain: When someone wastes your time with small talk or jokes instead of providing factual information about pricing or warranty. Often used as a tactic to stall. (Alt.) Slang: What happens when an unlikable person attempts to entertain.

It took me two weeks to get the pricing info I requested, but the sales dude called everyday just to assertain me. (Alt.) Slang: He may think he’s an Elvis impersonator, but it’s really just assertainment.


Trinketeer: A show attendee whose primary focus is to gather as many trinkets and trash as possible. No giveaway item is too small or insignificant for this exhibit hall swashbuckler!

Did you see the two Trinketeers fighting over the last promotional Stress Ball at Booth 2234?


Arch-ritis: The pain from wearing new shoes at a trade show.

I told Sally not to wear those new pumps. Now, she’s got a serious case of arch-ritis.


CuervoSweat: Literally perspiring alcohol after a very late night entertaining clients.

You need to move away from me Jack, or I’ll be hammered by noon from your CuervoSweat fumes.


Booth Zombie: The comatose exhibitor who doesn’t like to talk to strangers, make eye contact, or stand for seven hours straight.

The Booth Zombie sat behind the table and stared blindly away from attendees, stopping only to check her emails, file her nails, and drink coffee.


Annie-halled:  The realization that you’ve been abandoned (orphaned) in the exhibit hall while dismantling your display.

I was tearing down the exhibit when I realized I’d been annie-halled by my co-workers. Leapin’ lizards!


Ban-boozled: The “too good to be true” $99 banner stand bargain . . . that wasn’t.

I knew I’d been ban-boozled when the directions were sturdier than the banner stand.


Guttastrophe: The SUDDEN realization at a trade show that eating and drinking too much while wearing last year’s belt size has consequences.

He was in the middle of a very large exhibit hall when the telltale signs of a major Guttastrophe were upon him.


We’d love to include your terms in the Urban Exhibitionary. You’re a creative bunch. Post your terms and definitions. We’ll use the very best ones and collect the rest into a dictionary.

. . . Frankly, I’m a little frightened of what you’ll share. 😉

–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.


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20 Responses to “Urban Exhibitionary”

  1. mark bendickson says:

    My favorite (and an oldies but a goodie) is:

    Asshole Tax

    The arbitrary markup placed on pricing for clients who; always have you redesign multiple times, slow pay (sort of a proactive finance charge), find out they need pricing but don’t ask for it until 2 hours before the meeting they need it for even know they knew they needed it for two weeks, has a controller that always demands a discount before authorizing the PO, or any other consistent and obnoxious behavior that costs you additional effort or rush charges. For example, I knew a rather busty AE on the West Coast that would add 1% to the quote every time she caught the client staring at her breasts in a meeting.

    “Bill, these guys had us do a new rendering when they added a light to the banner stand. When you do the quote don’t forget the asshole tax.”

  2. mel says:

    To repeat . . . “Frankly, I’m a little frightened of what you’ll share.”

    Thanks Mark. Good post.

  3. Jacob Norris says:

    McCormick Place – Satan’s Earthly domain when not residing in Hell.

  4. Jacob Norris says:

    Show Services Office – A place generally reserved to service and assist those who are working for the event, rather than those who have paid to exhibit there.

  5. Jacob Norris says:

    Patent Pending – Term used to explain a new display technology that is currently being knocked off overseas and will soon be available at half the price of the original.

  6. Best-of-No-Show = The award given to those exhibitors that bail on the space they paid for, leaving only a bare carpeted area and the ever-attractive 8″x30″ white name tag place holder.

    ex/ “Look…ValuMed didn’t even bother to show up. Guess they’re going for the best-of-no-show award”

    Gription = the term used for show floor tape (carpet tape, gaffer or duct tape, etc.) that loses its adhesive quality, usually do the the oppressive humidity level on unairconditioned convention halls on set up days.

    ex/ “Hand me another roll of gaffer tape “(says the man on the 12’h ladder). “I thought you had a roll” says the other teamster. “yeah, but this roll’s got no Gription to it”.

    Lullabied = the term used for union workers that sleep in your booth during lunch break (usually on your Cort rental furniture), on set up days.

    Five-finger-discount = the term used for showing up unprepared for exhibit setup (or dismantle) day, whereby you are in need of a little stretch wrap or packing tape to secure your empty cases to a pallet, and you now patrol the hall floor looking to scavenge these items from unsuspecting exhibitors that have turned their back on THEIR supplies for just a nano-second.

    ex/ “Hey, where’d you come up with the shrink wrap?” “I five finger discounted it over in the 400 aisle”.

    Dead Man It = the term that a solo exhibit installer uses when he has to set up an inline exhibit by himself, which really should have two men installing it; however, he will use an 8′ ladder as a support post and tape this to a panel to hold it upright, while he secures the next panel at 90 degrees so it will now stand on its own and he can therefore continue building the backwall.

    ex/ “Hey buddy, can you help me hold this for a minute?”. “Dude! just dead man it, for Christ sake!”

    A Full Graduate of Customer School = the politically correct term for exhibitors that show up on install day to “supervise” (thereby avoiding the 30% labor supervision fee), who then pretends to know everything about the booth, and trade shows in general.

    ex/ (Does this actually NEED any explanation?)

  7. Jacob Norris says:

    Underwear Bandits – Individuals who operate their business from home using multiple web sites with no physical showroom, storage, or maintenance facilities to service customers in person. Using the “no overhead” benefit, they sell products at less than 15% markup of wholesale to undercut all other distributors.

    Example: “I just sold a 20 ft. Island Hybrid kit while sitting in my underwear and watching Oprah in my living room!”

  8. mark bendickson says:


    When you order a Condor to aim lights, not only do you get the high rigger, but also a ground rigger. In addition, you get a third guy. The safety officer. The guy that stands behind the lift and says ‘monback. Hence the name.

    “It was hilarious. The ‘monback was so busy talking to the Union Steward about the good old days he let the Condor run over the neighbor’s refrigerator.”

  9. Jacob Norris says:

    Drayage – A complicated term (one of may associated with exhibiting) to justify exorbitant fees charged to exhibitors due to the fact that the architect who designed the exhibit hall placed the loading dock at the furthest point away from the actual exhibit space. Originally derived from the actual pulling of items by Dray Horses, these long distances almost require such equine transport. Thus, the large fee.

  10. Shrink Wrap – Aisle carpet doesn’t quite butt up to your booth carpet.

  11. END CAP – Last call at the Convention Center Lounge.

  12. Freeman – name of one of the companies providing services that are anything but…

  13. BUILDABILITY = the button we ask all designers to hit, before they actually render whatever exhibit vision they have in their head. (cautionary note: apparently, this is an “optional” button on designer computers, as our I&D crews are asked regularly to set up structures that clearly defy gravity!).

  14. mel says:

    Chris — Don’t you have anti-gravity devices in stock? It’s our assumption as a manufacturer that all I&D folks have them.

  15. SKYHOOK: that special hand-sized accessory bracket that a) doesn’t need to actually mount to anything b) floats / hovers in the air within your booth space (hence, “sky”) , wherever you I-dream-of-Jeannie-it into place and c) has a weight-bearing capacity of 600 lbs.

    ex/ (10×10 exhibitor says) “we need this 42-in. LCD monitor that we bought this morning at Las Vegas Best Buy to, like, sit, like, on our fabric popup wall. But we don’t have any brackets for it. Can you guys rig something?…”. Answer: “Sure. I’ll just grab a Skyhook out of the job box, sir. It’ll be fine”.

  16. PANEL STRETCHER: The device used to modify the height of a buyer’s 30″high workstation panels, when they get to the show and realize they meant to order the workstation table at a 42″ height.

    (*note*: Panel Stretchers can purchased at the trade show supply store. Which can be found in most convention centers. On the fifth floor. Across the hall from the 50 meter swimming pool.)

  17. Dave Mihalik says:

    I know that this has been covered once already but I’d like to provide the condensed description.

    Drayage: a; The most amount of money for the shortest distance. b; Profit.

    Slang; Dray – Often used in place of using the whole word in public or in industry roundtables as it will illicit a collective sigh from those who have to explain it.

  18. mel says:

    Good additions Dave. I like to think of it as a taxi cab meter connected to a warp drive.

  19. Dave Egan says:


    Over lunch the other day, I gave myself 45 minutes to come up with as many as I could. Here they are, and they’re not all guaranteed winners:

    Buyzantine: the overly complex and intricate language of your exhibit company’s sales contract.

    Lie-bation: what people say about how many drinks they had late on the night before the show’s opening day.

    Lexico-graphics: the writing or compiling of useless slogans on trade show banners.

    Hall-cyon: the erroneous memory of fun times spent in an exhibit hall.

    Underkind: the know-it-all booth staffer who ends up doing nothing throughout the entire show.

    Gas-tronome: the co-worker who always passes gas in a small trade show booth after lunch.

    Brand-ishment: flattering speech or action about your company from someone who just wants your give-away.

    Kismetrics: destiny or fate that your exhibit toolbox will have all the tools you need, except the metric wrench required to assemble your entire booth.

    Equivo-wait: to be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in the hope that another booth staffer with a better answer to the attendee’s question will show up soon.

    More-atorium: an even longer suspension of activity by your union workers than their lunch break requires.

    Slim-patico: the small chance that your shipping company will be congenial or like-minded about helping you find your missing exhibit.

    I-owe-ta: the very small quantity of money the shipping company rep tells you the insurance will pay for said lost exhibit.

    Light-motif: the dominant and recurring theme that comes up at every show: one of your booth’s light fixtures is missing.

    F-hoist (pronounced “foh-eest”): the fraudulent claim that the equipment being used to raise your hanging sign will support the weight.

    A-butt: when your exhibit is directly adjacent to another exhibitor who’s a real pain in the a**.

    Sabbatickle: uncontrolled laughter that comes from being told you won’t have to work the next show.

    Thought you might get a smile from them.

    – Dave

    Dave Egan
    Head Writer

  20. mel says:

    Excellent additions Dave. There are some home runs in your list.

    However . . . wouldn’t another definition of “Lie-bation” be the creative description you put on your expense report for excessive and unauthorized entertainment?

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