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Section 7.2 Exhibit Guidelines


Conference Manual

Section No. 7.2




ACM is a tax-exempt organization and therefore must follow regulations established by the Federal Government for 501(C) 3 organizations. These regulations include practices with regard to sponsored exhibits. ACM recently relaxed its restrictions against exhibition sales on the exhibit floor. The sponsoring subunit may now elect to allow selling on the exhibits floor. These are many issues to consider in this decision. Therefore, these guidelines have been prepared to highlight the key considerations. Further information on any of these points may be obtained through the Office of SIG Services at ACM Headquarters.

Should a Conference Include Exhibits?


  • Complements technical program
  • Systems and applications forum
  • Sale of exhibit space provides additional income
  • Increases potential attendee base


  • Possible detraction from technical program
  • Need for extra space may limit choice of facilities
  • Extra costs involved (facility rental, decoration, drayage)

I. Management Requirements

A. Review Exhibits Chair Job Description

B. Should volunteers undertake position or should management be contracted out to professionals?

  • Size and complexity of exhibits are factors to consider.
  • Does volunteer have enough time? Exhibits management can be time consuming.
  • Does budget allow for professional management? Fees often based on a percent age of gross revenues (10%-20% as guideline); often include additional retainer fee.

II. Kinds of Exhibits

A. Educational - colleges, universities, publishers

B. Commercial -- hardware, software, systems

C. Combination

III. Table top exhibits or standard booths

A. Hotels charge for rental of space and for tables.

B. Service contractors charge per standard booth (including draped back and side rails and usually includes 2-line identification sign).

1.1. Typical charges for 10-20-booth show: $50 per booth in locations which are unionized and expensive: $25 per booth in less expensive locales.

IV. ACM Policy Considerations

A. Selling and order taking is now permitted on exhibit floor if permitted by sponsoring subunit; sponsor should advise exhibitors and prospective exhibitors.

PLEASE NOTE: sample contract defaults to no selling or order taking. This should be changed according to conference committee decision on selling and order taking

  • Selling -- money exchanged for goods; useful when dealing with portable product, such as books, software.
  • Order taking - no money exchanged; order is taken for future delivery and payment. More practical dealing with non-portable items.
  • Conference/exhibit organizer should advise exhibitors if certain restrictions exist (i.e., no "for sale" or "show special" signs); maintain decorum and dignified atmosphere.

B. Security Issues

  1. Conference/exhibit organizer responsible for security at entrances/exits to exhibit area .
  2. Individual exhibitors responsible for security at booths.

C. Sales Tax Issue

  1. Conference organizer responsible for notifying exhibitors in advance if payment of sales tax required..
  2. Exhibitors solely responsible for the collection and remittance of any sales taxes if merchandise sold at booth.

V. Exhibitor Contract/Rules and Regulations

A. Contract should include:

  1. Eligibility of exhibit -- who may exhibit
  • Products or services exhibited shall be directly pertinent to the function of industry represented by exhibition.
  • No encyclopedia companies, etc.
  1. Designated booth number, amount of space, what payment is (as well as payment schedule).
  2. Acceptance of contract - signed by exhibitor representative and ACM SIG representative.
  3. Limitation of liability paragraph (see sample contract).
  4. Cancellation policies - should stipulate timeframe during which refunds made on cancelled space and when no refund will be made .
  5. Agreement to Rules paragraph -- indicating exhibitor agrees to abide by all rules and regulations, whether included in the contract, in a separate list of rules and regulations, or amendments to the contract or rules.

B. Other Rules and Regulations

  1. Items may include, but are not limited to, the following: exhibit hours; installation and dismantling; union labor; exhibitor's admittance during non-Show hours; height and depth restrictions for booth; placement of equipment; exhibitor conduct; observance of laws; use of exhibit space.
  2. See sample contract for complete wording.

VI. Insurance Issues

A. Convention hall or hotel will require certificate of insurance from ACM; SIG Staff Liaison can obtain.

B. Exhibitors should also be insured; organization's regular liability policy will usually apply; or rider can be purchased at nominal cost.

VII. Exhibitors' Kit (or Manual)

A. Inform of all rules and regulations.

B. Provide information and order forms for services (furnishings, electrical, signs, etc.)

VIII. Other Issues

A. Music Licensing -- if exhibitors' booths will have music, conference should adhere to music licensing requirements (refer to explanation in conference organizer's manual).

B. No exhibitor should be permitted to exhibit without a signed contract and having paid for booth in full.