Since virtually every industry uses their own “language”, we have provided a glossary of common tradeshow terms for your reference. This list has been put together to help you understand what can sometimes be the confusing language known as “tradeshow lingo.” Not sure what drayage is? Is a peninsula space the same as an island space? Look here for the answers! Most of these words are common industry terms, and some are ALA specific. These terms will be used throughout this and other ALA materials. Please refer to this glossary if you encounter any word or phrase that is unfamiliar to you.

“@ your Library”
Slogan for The Campaign for America’s libraries, a five–year commitment, sponsored by the American Library Association, to speak loudly and clearly about the value of libraries and librarians to our communities, schools, academic institutions, and businesses, as well as to our society, democracy, and the new digital age.
Audio/visual support such as video monitors, sound systems or projection systems and screens.
ActionAd Booklet
Coupon book distributed to all attendees on–site with their registration credentials. Exhibitors use ActionAds to draw attendees to their booth for Prize Drawings, Special Discounts, Premium Give–aways, Author Autographing Announcements, and more.
Adult Literature Spotlight
A feature area on the exhibit floor during the Annual Exposition, attendees are encouraged to visit the exhibit floor Saturday afternoon as publishers feature adult authors. Free galleys will be available, and authors will be available for autographs at the publishers’ booths.
Advance Order
Goods and/or services ordered prior to setup. Typically less expensive than a Floor Order.
Advertising Specialties
Promotional items, ranging from key rings to expensive pens, with a firm’s name and/or advertising message. Also referred to as giveaways or “tshatshkes” (pronounced chotch–keys).
Area for audience traffic movement.
Aisle Carpet
Carpet installed in aisles.
Aisle Signs
Signs, usually suspended, indicating aisle numbers or letters.
Acronym for the American Library Association
The American Library Association
The 68,000+ member association is the chief advocate for the people of the United States to achieve and maintain high–quality library and information services. (For more information, visit
Annual Conference
Annual meeting of the American Library Association members including librarians, trustees, teachers, booksellers, architects and friends of libraries. The Annual Conference draws over 26,000 librarians, educators, writers, publishers and special guests, and the conference includes more than 2,000 meetings, discussion groups and programs on topics affecting libraries.
The process of erecting display component parts into a complete exhibit.
A visitor to the exhibition. A potential customer or buyer.
Authorized Signature
Signature of a person who is duly authorized to execute a binding legal agreement.
Back–to–Back Booth
See inline booth.
Panel or pipe and drape arrangement at rear of booth area, typically 8’ high.
A form of identification. At ALA, there are different colored badges to distinguish exhibitor/booth personnel from attendees and press.
A suspended decorative or communicative panel, usually a vinyl or cloth structure.
Bill of Lading
A document establishing the terms of a contract between a shipper and a transportation company for moving freight.
Blanket Wrap
Non–crated freight covered with protective blankets or padding and shipped by van line.
Bone Yard
An area used by show management to store exhibitors’ packing materials, decorators’ extra furniture, and any other equipment not being used during show hours.
An arrangement with a company for use of facilities, goods or services.
A display designed to showcase an exhibitor’s products, message and business ideas. Often referred to as a “stand” in International shows.
Booth Number
Number designated by show management for each exhibitor’s space.
Booth Personnel
Staff assigned to represent exhibiting company in assigned space.
Booth Sign
7” x 44” sign indicating company name and booth number.
Booth Size
Measure of assigned space. Can be represented by the booth’s dimensions (i.e., 10’ x 10’), square feet (i.e., 100 sq. ft.) or units (i.e., 1 unit).
Booth Space
The amount of floor area occupied by an exhibitor.
See Show Daily.
A pillar in an exhibition facility that supports the roof or other structures. Usually denoted on floor plan as a solid square or circle.
Common Carrier
A transportation company that handles crated materials. Consolidates freight of more than one shipper.
Educational and informational seminars generally held in conjunction with an exhibition.
Person to whom goods are shipped and assumes responsibility.
Consumer Show
An exhibition that is open to the public, showing what are generally known as consumer products. Note: The ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition is not a consumer show and is for trade only.
An individual providing services to a tradeshow and/or its exhibitors. May be Official (show management–appointed) or Independent (exhibitor–appointed).
Convention Center
A facility where exhibitions and/or conferences are held. Also known as Exhibition Center, Facility, or Hall.
Crating List
A document that names the contents of a crate, i.e., exhibit pieces, carpet, signage, etc.
Cross Aisle
An aisle at a right angle to the main aisle.
Cross Aisle Header
Sign hung over or supported over the aisles between 2 booths occupied by the same exhibiting company. See Exhibit Rules and Regulations in your Exhibitor Services Manual for regulations on cross aisle headers.
Custom Exhibit
An exhibit created to be a unique solution to the specific requirements of the user, generally manufactured by a professional exhibit design firm.
The authorities designated to collect duties/taxes levied by a country on imports and exports. The term also applies to the procedures involved in such collection.
Cut and Lay
Installation of carpet other than standard booth size, generally at an increased cost.
Hundredweight. A drayage weight measurement for exhibit freight equaling 100 pounds.
Stands for “Doing Business As”. Used to link a company’s corporate or trade name to its exhibiting name.
Dressing up exhibition with carpet, draping, plants, etc.
An individual or company providing services (such as I&D, draping, furnishings, etc.) to exhibitors and exhibition hall for a tradeshow.
Deferred Freight
Long haul freight that waits (usually one to two days) for available cargo space, shipped at a reduced rate.
Persons hired to illustrate or explain products.
Program book distributed to attendees and exhibitors, listing information about exhibitors’ products and services, conference sessions and other pertinent facts about the show. Sometimes referred to as the Show Directory or Show Guide.
A device to permit easy and rapid separation of electrical components.
The process of tearing down, packing up and moving out exhibit materials after show closes.
A place where freight is loaded onto and taken from vehicles. Also referred to as loading dock. Typically managed by the official contractor during a tradeshow where an official contractor has been secured.
Double Faced Panel
Finished on both sides.
Double Decker
Two–storied exhibit. Also called a Multiple Story Exhibit.
Double Time
Refers to a pay rate for work performed beyond straight time and overtime. Double–time is double the normal hourly rate (i.e., if laborer normally charges $10/hour, double–time work will be $20/hour).
Delivery of exhibit materials from the loading dock to assigned space, removal of empty crates, returning crates at end of show for re–crating and delivering materials for carrier loading. Also referred to as “Material Handling”.
Drayage Charge
The dollar cost based on weight. Drayage is calculated by 100 pound units, or hundredweight abbreviated CWT. There is usually a minimum charge.
DT Labor
Work performed on over time, usually at double the straight–time rate.
A tax imposed on imports by the customs authority of a country. Duties are generally based on the value of the goods some other factor such as weight or quantity (specific duties), or a combination of value and other factors (compound duty).
Exhibitor Appointed Contractor. Any company using a contractor other than those official contractors associated with the show needs to complete an EAC form–be SURE to read this section of your Exhibitor Services Manual closely, and make sure you comply with all regulations for EACs.
See Exhibits Round Table
Exhibit Manager
The organizer and operator of an exhibition, often referred to as Show Management or Exhibition Organizer. Also can be the person in charge of an exhibitor’s display in a tradeshow.
Exhibit Rules
Regulations prepared by exhibition management to govern exhibitors at a given event.
An event in which products or services are exhibited. Also referred to as Exposition, Expo, Tradeshow, Trade Fair.
Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)
Any company other than the designated “official” contractor providing display installation and dismantling.
Exhibitor Services Manual
Information sent to exhibitors containing show rules, information and forms for logistical services such as electrical, carpeting, decorating, etc.
Exhibitor Prospectus
Promotional information sent to prospective exhibitors by show management to encourage participation in a tradeshow.
Exhibits Only Invitation
Passes available to each exhibiting firm to invite your customers and prospects to visit the exhibits at no charge. Sometimes referred to as “VIP Invitation”.
Exhibits Round Table
A 12 member Executive Board functioning as a link for communication and cooperation between the exhibitors and ALA. (For more information, visit
Floor Load
Maximum weight per square foot a floor can support.
Floor Manager
Member of the show management team to assist exhibitors with the installation, dismantling and overall operation of the exhibit area.
Floor Marking
Method of indicating the boundaries of each booth space.
Floor Order
An order for services placed after exhibit setup begins; usually more expensive than an Advance Order.
Floor Plan
A map showing layout of exhibit spaces. Also referred to as a Floor Map.
Floor Port
Utility box, recessed in the floor, containing electrical, telephone, and/or plumbing connections.
Foam Core
Lightweight material with a Styrofoam center used for signs, decorating, and exhibit construction (Also called Gator Foam or Gator Board).
Up–To send literature or other information and/or have representative call on prospects identified at a tradeshow.
Four Hour Call
Minimum work period for which union labor must be paid in special circumstances. (Minimum call is generally one hour.)
Exhibit properties, products and other materials shipped for an exhibit.
Freight Desk
A specific location at the show where inbound and outbound exhibit materials are handled.
Frontage, Front Space
Refers to dimension across the front of an exhibit.
General Contractor
Company which provides all labor and services to an exposition manager and exhibitors.
GES or Global Experience Specialists (GES)
See General Contractor
Gift Basket Drawings
A raffle of gift baskets donated by exhibitors. At ALA Annual, participating Exhibitors raffle off exciting gift baskets at their booths during the All Conference Reception.
See Advertising Specialties.
Goose Neck Light
Small (75 to 150 watt) spot light with a flexible stem.
Communicative elements (color, copy, art, photographs, etc.), used to illustrate a booth theme or decor.
Gross Square Feet
Total space available in exhibit hall as compared to net square feet, usable exhibit space, or occupied exhibit space.
Gross Weight
Full weight of a shipment, including goods and packaging.
Generic term for an Exhibition Facility. May also refer to an individual area within a facility, such as North Hall.
Hand Carryable
Items that one person can carry unaided (meaning no hand trucks or dollies.)
Hard Card
(1) Work order labor or services. (2) Drayage contractor’s record of transporting small loads.
Hard Wire
Electrical connection other than receptacle to receptacle.
Hardwall Booth
A booth constructed with plywood or other solid material as opposed to a booth formed by drapery only.
A sign or other structure across the top of a booth. Usually displays company name.
Hospitality (n.)
An event or gathering usually separate from the exhibit, in which refreshments are served and exhibitor personnel and invited guests socialize.
Installation and dismantling (performed on exhibit properties).
Independent Service Contractor
Any company (other than the designated “official” contractors listed in the Exhibitor Services Manual) providing a service (models/ demonstrators, florists, photographers, audiovisual, etc.) and needing access to an exhibit any time during installation, show dates and/or dismantling.
Use of floor space outside contracted booth area, or breaking of the official Rules and Regulations.
In–Line Booth
Exhibit space with exhibit booths on both sides and behind, or backing up to a wall. This type of booth will generally have only one exhibit side open to an aisle. All are 10×10, 10×20, and 10×30.
The setting up of exhibit booths and materials according to instructions and drawings.
Insurance Policy
A contract between an exhibitor and an insurance company securing payment of a sum of money in the event of loss or damage.
Interactive Exhibits
Exhibits in which the visitor is involved with the exhibit in a proactive way.
The amount (number of pieces) of furniture and equipment available for show, or used to describe total number of booths on the exhibit floor.
Island Booth
An exhibit with aisles on all four sides.
A small structure, open on one or more sides, for the display of a product or for use as an information station or for material distribution.
For shows, refers to contracted workers who perform services.
Labor Call
A method of securing union employees.
Landscape (Horizontal)
A sign that is wider than it is high.
The demographic information retrieved from visitors to your booth, which helps you determine that person’s intent to buy your product/services. A tool to help your sales force close the sale.
Less than Truckload (LTL)
Shipping rates that apply when the quantity of freight is less than the volume of truckload minimum weight.
Legal issue of who is responsible for damage or injuries.
Library Champions
An ALA term used to distinguish organizations as a library advocate, helping ALA bring key messages of ”@ your library¨,” The Campaign for America's Libraries, to new audiences across the country and around the world. (For more information about becoming a Library Champion, please click here.
Refers to booth or general hall illumination.
Linear Display
Another term for an in–line exhibit space.
Loading Dock
See Dock.
A trademark or symbol, unique to each company.
Mailing List
A list of contact names and addresses to use for marketing purposes. These lists can be obtained by gathering information on–site, or by purchasing or renting from an agency or company.
Marshalling Yard
Control point at which all freight is checked in. Freight is then dispatched to the appropriate loading dock as space becomes available. This process insures delivery of freight to the exhibit hall in a safe and expedient fashion.
Masking Drape
Drape used to cover storage and other unsightly areas.
Material Handling
Also referred to as “Drayage”. Delivery of exhibit materials from the loading dock to assigned space, removal of empty crates, returning crates at end of show for re–crating and delivering materials for carrier loading.
Material Handling Order Form
A list or inventory of goods being shipped. It serves as a document establishing the terms between a shipper (the exhibitor) and a carrier (the transportation company) listing the number of pieces, and a total weight for the shipment. It is usually prepared by the shipper on forms provided by the carrier and is needed for both inbound and outbound shipments. Also known as a bill–of–lading,
Meet the Authors
Personal appearances by authors, illustrators and other shining lights during the ALA Annual Conference Exposition.
Merchandise Release Pass
Release provided by the exhibitor for the removal of materials from the exhibit hall.
Message Center
Centrally located area where attendees can send messages to one another and also check on a booth location. The ALA Information booth is adjacent to the Message Center and this is also where outside messages come in for attendees and are put up on terminals for them to retrieve.
Structural elements that are interchangeable. Allows for maximum flexibility in arrangement and size.
Dates set for installation of exhibits. Also referred to as Set–Up or Installation.
Dates set for dismantling of exhibits. Also referred to as Tear–Down or Dismantling.
Multiple Story Exhibits
Exhibits of two or more levels. Another term for Double Decker.
Net Square Feet
The amount of space occupied by exhibits in a facility, not including aisles, registration areas, public areas, etc.
No Show
A person who does not show up to claim booth space or ordered services.
Statement of expected achievements in a marketing event.
Official Contractor
Service provider appointed by exhibition management.
On Center
Measurement of space from center of a solid object such as a column to another point.
Location of exhibits or project. Also called At–Site.
On–Site Order
Order for labor or services placed on show site. Prices for on–site orders are more costly and advance orders are normally processed first. In some cases, on–site orders cannot be filled. Also called Floor Order.
Outbound Material Handling Form
A list or inventory of goods being shipped out the exhibit hall after the close of the exposition. It serves as a document establishing the terms between a shipper (the exhibitor) and a carrier (the transportation company) listing the number of pieces, and a total weight for the shipment. Also known as a bill–of–lading,
OT Labor
Work performed on over time, usually at one and one–half the straight–time rate.
Refers to work performed beyond what is considered a standard business day. Overtime labor is paid at time and a half (i.e., if laborer charges $50/hour, Overtime pay will be $75/hour).
Packing List
A list included with a shipment showing the number and kinds of items being shipped, as well as other information needed for transportation purposes. Also referred to as a Bill of Lading or Waybill.
Wooden platform used to support machinery or a collection of objects for easier handling. Also thick wood blocks attached to crates that allow forklift access for easier handling. Also referred to as a skid.
Section of the exhibit hall where similar companies are grouped for a collective impact.
Peninsula Booth
Booth space with aisles on three sides.
Perimeter Booth
Booth located on the outer most wall of the exhibit hall.
Pipe and Drape
Pipe structures with fabric draped from them to make up side rails and backwall of an exhibit booth.
Pop–up Booth
Term generally referring to a booth that requires minimal tools to set up and is set up by the exhibitor.
Portable Exhibits
Lightweight, crated display units that do not require forklifts to move.
Portrait (Vertical)
A sign that is higher that it is wide.
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.
Pre–built exhibit ready for installation.
Trained individuals stationed in a booth to present a scripted promotional message.
Press Kit
An informational kit intended to educate and inform media and analysts about an organization, event or issue. Common documents found in press kits include press releases, executive biographies, white papers, user stories, backgrounders, fact sheets and product data sheets.
Press Release
An article intended for use by the media about a company, product, service or individual. Also referred to as News Release.
Press Room
Location on–site where members of the media can obtain press releases, product announcements and other materials, write stories, conduct interviews, make phone calls and place stories.
Priority Point System
Method of assigning booth space. At ALA, the Priority Point System is based on the number of years a company has exhibited in the show, corporate membership and date or receipt of application.
Pro Number
A number designated by a common carrier to a single shipment.
Product Category Listing
A list of products and services that exhibitors will be highlighting at a show. This list is usually contained in the Official Program, online and at on–site electronic kiosks. The locator is alphabetical by product or service and lists the exhibiting companies that will feature that product or service.
Program Book
Printed schedule of meeting events, locations of function rooms, location of exhibitors, and other pertinent information.
Any preliminary reproduction by photography, typesetting, or lithography, provided by processor for approval prior to finished product.
The act of determining an attendee’s authority to purchase or recommend a product or service on display.
Raw Space
The actual space for an exhibit with no furnishings or decoration.
Process of obtaining demographic information from an attendee in exchange for an entrance badge to the show. Exhibitors must also register their booth personnel in order to obtain exhibitor badges.
Rental Booth
Complete booth package offered to exhibitors on a rental basis by the general contractor.
Panel joined to backwall at right angles.
Right–to–Work State
Where joining a union is not a condition of employment. In right–to–work states, exhibitors do not have to use union laborers for some aspects of booth building, providing they provide the appropriate paperwork for specific jobs.
ROI (Return on Investment)
Measurement of how much benefit a company receives from participation in a tradeshow. Broadest example formula: income minus costs equals ROI.
Rough Sketch
Quick drawing giving indications of a proposed exhibit.
In tradeshows, systems used to control access to the exhibit floor or meeting rooms.
Servicenter SM
A centrally located service area where exhibitors can order or reconfirm the services provided by exhibition management such as electricity, decorating, telecommunications, etc. Also known as the Service Desk.
Installation of display(s).
Show Daily
A daily publication produced on–site that offers articles on exhibitors, their products)/service(s), and show activities. The ALA show daily is titled Cognotes.
Show Decorator
Company or individual responsible for hall draping, aisle carpeting and signage. Performs same service for individual exhibitors. Also often referred to as the Service or General Contractor.
Show Office
Show management office at exhibition.
Shrink Wrap
Process of wrapping loose items on a pallet with heat–sealed, transparent plastic wrapping.
Side Rail
Low divider wall, usually pipe and drape, used to divide one exhibit space from another.
See pallet.
Decorative covering around tables or risers.
Space Rate
Cost per square foot for exhibit space.
Special Handling
Applies to material shipments requiring extra labor, equipment, or time in delivery to exhibit space.
Special events or programs that exhibitors contribute money towards in return for recognition. ALA offers sponsorships at various budget levels. (For available sponsorships, please refer to the “Sponsorships” insert in the Exhibitor Services Manual.)
ST Labor
Labor performed on straight–time as specified in the Exhibitor Services Manual.
The Stacks
Brand name given to the ALA Annual Conference Exhibition.
Staging Area
A place for collection of materials, components, delivery units, etc.
See Booth.
The hours considered normal business hours.
Tabletop Display
Exhibit designed for use on top of a counter, bench or table.
Outside personnel stationed in a tradeshow exhibit to demonstrate a product, attract attendees or greet visitors. Includes magicians or similar entertainers.
Tare Weight
Weight of a container and/or packing materials without the weight of the goods it contains.
See Move–Out.
Technology Showcase
Held during the Annual Meeting, free concurrent programs on the exhibit floor featuring new products and demonstrations.
A place within an exhibitor’s booth for presentations or demonstrations.
Time and Materials
Method of charging on a cost–plus basis.
An exhibition held for members of a common or related industry. Not open to the general public. The ALA Annual Exhibition is a tradeshow open to individuals involved in the library industry.
Traffic Flow
A common or directed path the audience will take through an exhibition.
An organization of workers formed for mutual benefit 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.
The smallest amount of space available for rent. At ALA, a unit is a 10’x10’ foot space (100 square feet). If you have a 20’ x 30’ booth you have 6 units (600 square feet).
VIP Invitation
See Exhibits Only Invitation
An attendee at an exhibition. A potential customer or buyer.
A temporary cover (usually plastic) that is placed over carpet to protect from dirt and damage before show opening.
A list of companies that are either interested in obtaining exhibit space or relocating to a different space, but for whom no such space is yet available. Waitlist can also apply to hotel rooms or promotional opportunities.
List of enclosed goods and shipping instructions, sent with material in transit. See also Packing List and Bill of Lading.
Work Time
Paid time that begins as soon as workers report to an exhibitor. Stops when the exhibitor releases employees from work.

In Conclusion

We hope you have found this information helpful in preparing an exhibit program for the ALA Annual Conference. If there are important areas we did not cover, or specific questions you would like to see addressed in greater detail, let us know. Your input is vital in helping us to produce an event that is efficient, productive, and profitable.

Thank you for your participation and support.

Hall-Erickson, Inc.
ALA Annual Conference Exposition Management

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