Industry Terminology

Exhibition industry glossary of terms

To help you understand the jargon of the exhibition indusrty, EXSA has compiled a glossary of exhibition industry terms.

To download the glossary click here!



A/V Audio/visual support such as television monitors, VCRs, or taped music.

A/V Contractor A supplier of audio/visual equipment and services.

Advance Order An order for services sent to the service contractor prior to the installation date. Compare with Floor Order.

Advance Rates Fees associated with advance orders, which typically include discounts when paid in advance.

Advance Receiving Location set by show management to receive freight before the start of show. Freight is stored at this location and then shipped to the show at the appropriate time.

Agent A bona fide representative with proper credentials from the party represented.

Air Freight Goods shipped via airplane.

Aisle A walkway intended for audience movement through an exposition or exhibit.

Aisle Carpet Carpeting installed in trade show aisles.

Aisle Signs Signs, usually suspended, identifying exposition aisles by number or letter.

Assembly The process of erecting an exhibit from its components. Also called Installation, Set Up.

At-site See On-site.

Attendees Those persons who visit an event that are not exhibiting or connected with the event itself.



Back-light A light source that illuminates translucent material from behind.

Backwall The panels at the rear of an exhibit.

Backwall Exhibit An exhibit that is back-to-back with another exhibit or against a building wall.

Baffle A partition designed to control light, air, sound, or traffic flow.

Banner A suspended panel used as a decoration or a sign, usually made of fabric or paper for temporary use.

Banner stands banner mounted on/in a framework for quick displays

Bill of Lading A document that establishes the terms between a shipper and a transportation company for the transport of goods between specified points for a specified charge. Also see Air Waybill, Inland Bill of Lading, Ocean Bill of Lading, Through Bill of Lading.

Blanket Wrap Uncrated goods covered with blankets or other protective padding and shipped via van line. Also called Pad Wrap.

Blueprint A scale drawing of booth space layout, construction, and specifications.

Bonded store where exhibitor goods are kept until customs duty is paid

Boneyard A storage area for empty crates and contractor materials.

Build-upto erect structures at an exhibition, before the show opens to visitors

Break-down to dismantle and remove structures, after the exhibition has closed to visitors



C.I.F. (Cost, Insurance, Freight) A pricing term indicating that these charges are included in the stated price.

CAD/CAM Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing.

Carpenter A skilled worker used to build, install and dismantle stands and structure an exhibition

Carpet Tape Double-sided tape used to adhere the edge of a carpet to the floor.

Carnet’s document issued to companies exhibiting overseas allowing them to import goods for an exhibition, free of custom duty, provided that the goods are exported after the exhibition

Carrier A transportation line moving freight. Usually a van line, rail line, or air carrier.

Cartage (1) The fee charged for transporting freight. (2) The moving of exhibit properties over a short distance.

Casual labour employed to help organisers or exhibitors deliver goods to, or remove from stands or areas within the exhibition

Catalogue Official publication of an exhibition, listing all exhibitors plus general information

Certificate of Inspection A document certifying that merchandise was in good condition immediately prior to its shipment.

Cherry Picker Equipment used to lift people to a given height.

Clean Bill of Lading A carrier-issued receipt indicating that transported merchandise was received in apparent good condition.

Column A pillar in an exhibition venue which supports the roof or other overhead structures. Usually shown on a floor plan as a solid square.

Commercial Invoice An itemized list of shipped goods.

Confex exhibition held alongside a conference

Consignee A person to whom goods are shipped.

Consignment A delivery of merchandise from an exporter (the consignor) to an agent (the consignee) under the agreement that the agent will sell the merchandise, receive a commission, and remit the net proceeds to the exporter.

Consignor A person who sends freight.

Consolidate To ship freight to a central depot where several loads bound for the same destination are put together before being shipped to that destination.

Construction Drawing A drawing which gives detailed diagrams and instructions for building an exhibit.

Consumer shows open to the public

Contractor An individual or company that provides services or materials to a trade show and/or its exhibitors. Also see Official Contractor

Corner stand An exhibit space with exposure on at least two aisles.

Crating List An itemized list of the contents of a crate.

Creeping where an exhibitor uses space outside of the demarked stand area booked

Cross-aisle An aisle at a right angle to a main aisle.

Cubic Content Literally, length x width x height. Measurement used in determining shipping costs for van lines.

Custom Exhibit A display designed and built to meet the specific needs of an exhibitor.



Damage Report A report submitted by an exhibitor to a freight company or drayage contractor itemizing damage to shipped goods.

Declared Value A shipper's stated value for the contents of a shipment.

Decorator An individual (skilled craftsperson) or company (a contractor) providing services for a trade show and/or its exhibitors.

Designers individuals or companies who design exhibition stands

Dismantle To take apart an exhibit. Also known as Break-down.

Distribution board– single phase or three phase board bringing power to a stand or area of the exhibition

Dock A platform where freight is loaded onto and removed from vehicles or vessels.

Dolly A low, wheeled frame with a platform used for carrying heavy or cumbersome objects.

Double-decker A two-storied exhibit. Also known as double story exhibit.

Draper A craftsperson who installs drapes, fabric, and special decor.

Drayage The movement of show materials from shipping dock to stand for show set up and back to dock for return shipment at end of show.

Drayage Contractor A company responsible for handling exhibit materials at a trade show.

Drayage Form A form completed by an exhibitor requesting handling of materials.

DW Deadweight (tons of 2240 lbs.)



Easel A stand for displaying objects.

Electrical Contractor A company hired by show management to provide electrical services to exhibitors.

Elevations Scaled drawings depicting front and side views of an exhibit.

EGF Event Greening Forum

Event Marketing Face-to-face promotional experiences between customers and companies.

Exclusive Contractor A contractor appointed by show management as the sole provider of specified services.

Exhibit Designer/Producer Company responsible for designing and constructing exhibit stands.

Exhibit Hall The area(s) within an exhibition centre where exhibits are located.

Exhibit Manager Person in charge of a company's exhibit program.


Exhibitor Information Manual booklet containing rules and regulations of exhibition plus all service order forms required by exhibitors

Exhibitor Pack A package of information which contains all rules, regulations, and forms relating to an exhibition, provided to exhibitors by show management. Also called Service Kit.

Export To send or transport goods out of one country for sale in another.

Export Merchant A company that buys products directly from manufacturers, then packages the merchandise for resale under its own name.

Export Trading Company A company that buys foreign merchandise for resale in its own local market.


Exposition Manager See Show Manager.

Exposition Rules The set of regulations which govern a given trade show.

EXSA Exhibition Association of Southern Africa



Fabrication The construction of an exhibit.

Fascia board across the front of the stand on which the exhibitor’s name and stand number is displayed

Fiber Optics The use of cut glass fibers to display collared light.

Fire Exit A door designated for emergency egress, which must be kept clear of obstructions.

Fire Lane An aisle that must be kept clear of obstructions to allow emergency egress.

Fire Retardant Term used to describe a finish which coats materials with a fire-resistant (not fire proof) cover.

Floor Manager An individual representing show management who is responsible for the exhibition area.

Floor Marking Method used to mark booth spaces.

Floor Order Order for services placed after exhibit installation has begun. Compare with Advance Order.

Floor Plan A map showing the size and locations of exhibit spaces.

Floor Port A utility box recessed in the floor containing electrical, telephone, or plumbing connections.

Foam Core Rigid foam covered with heavy paper stock used for mounting signs, art, etc.

Forklift, Forktruck Motorized vehicle used to load, unload, and transport heavy items.

Free Trade Zone A port designated by the government of a country for duty-free entry of any non-prohibited goods.

Freight Exhibit properties and other materials shipped for an exhibit.

Freight Desk he area where inbound and outbound exhibit materials are handled at a trade show.

Freight Forwarder A shipping company which handles export shipments for a fee



Gangway International term referring to the "aisle".

GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. A multilateral treaty intended to reduce trade barriers between the signatory countries and to promote trade through tariff concessions.

Goods removal form – form issued by the organisers, allowing goods to be removed from the exhibition area

Graphic A photo, copy panel, or artwork applied to an exhibit.


Hall General term used for an exposition facility or the exhibit area within a facility.

Hand Truck Small hand-propelled vehicle used for transporting small loads.

Header A sign or other structure across the top of an exhibit.

Hire International term referring to "rent" a service or product.


Independent Contractor A contractor hired by an exhibitor to perform trade show services independently of show management appointed contractors.

Infringement An exhibitor's unauthorized use of floor space outside the leased booth area.

In-line An exhibit that is constructed in a continuous line along an aisle. Also called Linear Display.

Installation The process of setting up exhibit properties according to specifications. Also called assembly, set up, build-up.

Installation & Dismantle The set up and take-down of exhibits.

Inventory Total amount of equipment available for a show.

Island Exhibit A display with aisles on four sides.



Junction Box A distribution point for electrical power.



K.D. (Knockdown) An exhibit with separate components that must be assembled on-site.


Lamination The process of bonding two or more substances together.

Lead Tracking A manual or automated system used to conduct follow-up activities for sales prospects resulting from a trade show.

Liability A legal term referring to responsibility for damages or injuries.

Light Box An enclosure which contains lighting underneath a translucent facing material. Used to back-light signs or graphics applied to the face.

Lighting The amount or type of illumination in an exhibit or exhibition hall.

Linear Display An exhibit that is constructed in a continuous line along an aisle. Also called In-line.

Loading Dock An area within an exposition facility where freight is received and shipped.

Lock-Up A secure storage area within an exposition facility.

Logo A specific symbol chosen to represent a company. Usually comprised of stylized type alone or in conjunction with graphic art.

Low Voltage A term applied to electrical currents of 24 volts or less. Usually used in animation and specialty lighting.



Manual See Exhibitor’s information manual

Marshalling Yard A lot where trucks gather for orderly dispatch to show site.

Mask To cover for painting or protection.

Meet-and-great person who welcomes people at airports, exhibitions or stands

Metre The most common width for a backwall panel. (1 Metre = 39.37 inches)

Mirror tape double sides sponge tape, used for mounting product and graphics to exhibition walls

Modular Display An exhibit constructed with interchangeable components designed to be set up in various arrangements and sizes.

Move-in The date specified by show management for beginning exhibit installation. Also called build-up

Move-out The date specified by show management for dismantling exhibits. Also called break-down

Multimedia Combining two or more types of audio/visual support in a presentation.



Net Square Metreage The total amount of leased stand space in an exhibition facility.


Official Contractor Show management appointed company providing services to a trade show and/or its exhibitors.

On-site A reference to the exhibit location. Also called At-site.

On-site Order Floor order placed at a show site.

Organisers the exhibition organisers

Overtime A designation for work performed outside the hours specified as normal working hours. Usually work performed on overtime is charged at a substantially higher rate.



Packing Case See Shipping Case.

Packing List A document prepared by a shipper itemizing contents of shipment and including other information needed by the carrier.

Pallet Wooden frame on which goods are packed, when moved by fork lift truck

Panel System A prefabricated exhibit composed of connected rectangular panels of various sizes.

Particle Board A panel made of compressed, glued wood chips.

Peg Board The trade name for a type of hardboard with perforations at regular intervals. Usually used for hanging items.

Peninsula stand An exhibit with aisles on three sides.

Perimeter stand A stand space on a outside wall.

Pipe & Drape Tubing covered with draped fabric to make up the rails and backwall of a trade show. Most normally used in U.S.

Plinth a structure on which goods or graphics can be displayed

Podium A demonstration area, usually higher than the surrounding floor.

Portable Exhibit A lightweight display unit that can be moved without a forklift.

Press Kit A package of materials put together for the media. Usually a folder containing press releases, product announcements, and other materials.

Press Release An article submitted to the media for publication. Usually announcing news about a product, company, or individual.

Press-stick putty-like substance used for mounting graphics and products to exhibition stand walls

Pro Forma Invoice An invoice sent to a buyer prior to the shipment of merchandise which provides detailed information about the kinds and quantities of goods to be shipped.




Raceway Metal or insulated rubber tubing used to channel electrical wires.

Raised floor structure on which stand is built, normally to conceal piping and wiring underneath

Rear Illumination A technique of using a light source to illuminate a translucent image from behind. Also called Back-lighting.

Rear Projection A video technique in which images are projected on a screen positioned between the projector and the audience.

Refurbish The process of repairing or reconditioning an exhibit to extend its life span.

Registration area at entrance to exhibition where visitors register

Relay An electrical device used to produce programmed effects by interrupting the flow of current.

Rheostat A device used to regulate lighting intensity. Also known as Dimmer Switch.

Rigger A skilled worker responsible for handling and assembly of machinery.

Riser A platform for people or materials.

Rules & Regulations The specific set of rules that apply to an exhibition



Scrim Fabric which is opaque when lighted from the front and transparent when lighted from the rear.

Security Cages Cages provided to exhibitors for locking up materials.

Self-contained Exhibit A display which uses the shipping case as an integral part of the exhibit.

Service Desk The location at which exhibitors order services from show management.

Set Up The process of erecting an exhibit from its components. Also called Assembly, Installation, build-up.

Set-up Drawing Drawings which give detailed instructions for the installation of an exhibit.

Shell scheme the walls of exhibition stands

Shipping Case A reusable container for transporting exhibit materials.

Shipping Crate A wooden container for transporting exhibit materials, which may be designed for a single use or custom built for extended reuse.

Show Manager The organizer and operator of an exhibition.

Show Office The show management office at an exhibition.

Show Photographer The show management appointed photographer for an exhibition.

Show Rules The general rules and regulations governing a specific trade show.

Shrink Wrap A process used to seal materials in transparent plastic.

Sign Standard A frame on a stand into which a sign can be inserted for display.

Silk Screen A method of creating graphics with a reusable stencil.

Skirting Decorative covering around tables and risers.

Smoker Ashtray stand.

Space The area occupied by an exhibitor in the exhibition hall.

Space Rental The cost per square metre of exhibit area.

Spotlight A lamp that provides a defined circle of light.

Staging Area A location used for demonstrations.

Stanchions Posts used to support signage or other elevated objects.

Stand An area made up of one or more standard units of exhibit space. In U.S. called a booth

Stand Area The amount of floor space assigned to an exhibitor.

Stand Builder A company which designs and builds exhibits.

Stand Number A number assigned by show management to identify an exhibitor's floor space.

Stand staff Staff members assigned by an exhibitor to work in an exhibit.

Stand Size The dimensions of the floor space contracted by an exhibitor. Usually sold in increments of 3m x 3m or 3m x 4m

Strike  to breakdown the exhibition or a stand

Subcontractor An individual or company retained by a contractor to provide services.

Systems different display systems with a fixed number of unique parts


Table Top Display An exhibit designed for use on the top of a table or similar surface.

Tariff Rates Shipping charges for various types of cargo.

TBCSA Tourism Business Council of South Africa

Teardown The dismantling of an exhibit. Also known as Take-down.

Terminal Freight handling or dock area.

Terms and conditions The specific set of rules that apply to an exhibition contract with the organisers of contractors

Trade Fair Broadly used as the international term for an exhibition.

Trade Show An exhibition related to a particular industry or group, and open only to the members of that group.

Traffic Flow The movement of visitors through an exhibition or exhibit.

Turntables revolving motor-driven platforms on which goods can be displayed




V.A.T. Value Added Tax. A tax that has been added to the overall price of a product reflecting the value added to the product by processing.

Valance An overhead banner typically used as a light baffle.

Velcro The trade name for a fabric closure with two components: hooks and loops. The two components adhere when pressed together and separate when pulled apart, allowing repeated use.

Venue the place where an exhibition is held

Visitors People who visit an exhibition



W/B Waybill.

Wallboard A construction product used for panels which are temporary.

Warehouse Receipt A receipt issued by a warehouse for goods received for storage.

Waste Removal The removal of trash from an area or building.

Wharfage A charge assessed for handling cargo at a pier.





YPF Young Professionals Forum 



The booth two hours before the show opens!