Designing a portable display system
in today’s ultra-competitive market takes guts. Not only must it be durable,
easy-to-assembly, and (preferably) tool-less, but it must also feature
accessories like monitor/tablet mounts, workstations, counters, and storage.
And if that wasn’t enough, it must be attractive and represent a real value.
In January 2020, Classic Exhibits
will introduce Symphony, a portable system with over 30 mix and match configurations,
seamless graphics, and dramatic shapes. Symphony
will be both familiar and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. That takes
guts! Coming Soon!
2020 Branded Exhibit Design Search
A few days ago, you received an email about the revised Branded EDS Program. We listened and made changes to the program introduced last year, including adding an earned rebate incentive. We made the incentive reasonable so most Classic Distributor Partners could reach those sales levels easily.
Best of all, if your wholesale sales were at least $150,000 in 2019
and you have an active EDS website, then you won’t receive an
invoice for 2020. Nothing. Nada. Gratis.
If you have questions about your existing Exhibit Design Search, or you would like to add a branded EDS to your website, contact Mel White, Jen LaBruzza, or Harold Mintz. They can explain the features and benefits of branded EDS sites, including our strategic EDS partnerships with Optima, CORT, Brumark, and Display Supply and Lighting.
Just Like the Wizard of OZ
At Classic Exhibits, we’re kinda like the Wizard of Oz. We love to create display magic, but we do it hiding behind a curtain as much as possible. On occasion we pull that curtain back, like at EXHIBITORLIVE or award programs. Otherwise, we’re invisible.
Recently, we agreed to a corporate profile in Exhibit City News, which we’ve never done before in any publication. It was in the September/October issue. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, here’s the online version: Classic Exhibits Inc.: An Industry Chameleon.
If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that people find it challenging to describe who we are and what we do, even our most loyal distributor partners. The article does a good job of making that clearer and includes quotes from Kevin Carty, Katina Rigall Zipay, and Mel White.
EDPA Access 2019
Kevin Carty and Jen LaBruzza will be attending EDPA Access in Tucson, AZ on December 4-6. Ask about several exciting custom projects (Star Wars, The Walking Dead, and corporate branding). There’s a lot going on at Classic and even more changes coming in 2020.
Through October 2019, Classic Rental Solutions (CRS) delivered over 283 rental projects this year. Mostly larger customized inlines or islands. That’s a lot of rentals and a healthy increase over the previous year.
With so many Classic Exhibits Distributors adding rental inventories, you may be wondering why our sales continue to surge. It’s simple. Our size and manufacturing capabilities give us six rental advantages. Those advantages benefit you, a Classic Distributor, and your clients.
Our Six Rental Advantages
Advantage #1. Design
Our designers are dedicated to rental designs. They don’t dabble in purchase design requests. CRS typically delivers complete rental designs within 3 to 4 days of your design requests.
We’ll work directly with you and/or with your clients on conference calls to review their vision for the design and functionality of their booth. Experience has shown us that the closing ratio improves significantly when our designers work directly with exhibitors.
Need ideas? Our three Rental Galleries (with over 300 designs) provide a great starting point to generate concepts and budget ranges as well.
Advantage #2.Project Management
Do you get bogged down in the present, making it challenging to focus on future opportunities. Let us manage your rental projects to avoid disrupting your in-house production load. We’ll design it, build it, and communicate the progress all along the way. This makes it easy for you, and allows your team to focus on existing jobs and new opportunities.
Nearly every CRS rental ships directly to the trade show and has for over 10 years. We’re really, really good at getting it right at every stage.
Advantage #3. Unparalleled Customization
Almost every rental exhibit CRS designs and produces has custom elements. We understand the importance of including key features that set your projects apart. This is also true for the more economical budgets.
We’re not limited to 20 modular wall panels or two or three counters. Our rental inventory is virtually unlimited. In almost all cases, we can design and build to your specifications.
Advantage #4.Industry Leading Solutions
Classic Exhibits has always been a leader in innovation and new product development. CRS is in the same facility. Our design offerings include these new products, which constantly provides a fresh new look. It also provides a substantial sales advantage, especially in competitive situations where that one new element can really make a difference.
Here are three examples of game-changing products that Classic has introduced:
InCharg Charging Stations: Available in a large variety of contemporary designs, including bistro, coffee, end, and conference tables. And now produced with wireless and USB charging ports. All pre-wired for easy assembly. These attractive high-quality charging stations provide excellent branding opportunities with top surface vinyl graphics.
Gravitee One-Step Modular System: Over the past couple of years, our Gravitee System has literally revolutionized our rental program. The pre-constructed panel systems is amazingly easy to setup and take-down. And it’s extremely versatile to reconfigure from inline designs to large islands. It works great for continuous SEG fabric graphics, or direct print Sintra inserts. It’s used for multi-level towers, backwalls, kiosks, and conference rooms. Our inventory is huge and growing all the time.
SuperNova LED Lightboxes: The single biggest attraction on most show floors are LED lightboxes with vibrant SEG fabric graphics, lightweight aluminum extrusion, and dynamic LED lights. Many of our lightbox designs now assemble with minimal or no tools. Many of our rental designs include lightboxes, including custom sizes built into kiosks, headers, or single, or double-sided wall structures with high impact backlit fabric graphics.
At Classic, we’re extremely flexible! We don’t have strict policies that restrict us from assisting you. Our goal is to win projects and be successful with every opportunity. We understand that. So when it comes to special requests, like tight timelines, custom colors and components, or large quantity orders that require us to invest in more inventory, we’ll do everything we can to accommodate your needs. We can’t always say “yes,” but we’re going to do everything possible not to say “no.”
We know what it takes for you to earn your customer’s business and trust. That’s why it’s so important to communicate and to assure them that their projects are coming together successfully. In today’s long-distance business relationships, it’s critical that customers are confident the project is going smoothly especially if they’ve never visited our facilities.
At CRS, we follow a strict process for every project, which includes updates along the way. And when your orders are completed and staged, we send detailed staging photos, packing photos, setup instructions, and packing lists. It’s your assurance that every expectation has been met with success.
I’ve been in this business for over 35 years and love what I do. Every project is a new challenge, whether large or small. Our CRS team is committed to designing, producing, and managing the best possible rental solutions for your customers. The most exciting part of my job is walking through the shop each day, and seeing our completed projects being staged and getting ready to ship to trade shows all across the country. That never gets old to me.
I look forward to partnering with you on your next, or possibly first, project with us!
I entered the exhibit industry back in 1980 when I took a
job with the Electronic Industry Association’s Consumer Electronics Shows. To
put that in perspective, the big thing at the first CES I attended was the
launch of RCA’s Videodisc. For those unfamiliar with a videodisc, picture a DVD
the size of a record. For those of you unfamiliar with records, see your
I am in my first year with Classic Exhibits but with 30 years of industry experience. I took nine years off (2010-2018) to play in Hollywood with a childhood friend. And while that turned out to be a fun-packed excursion for me, the pull of the exhibition industry lured me back. And so here I am.
Recently, my friend Jason Cornatzer from 2020 Exhibits invited me to attend this year’s Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Center. I accomplished two things by attending the show. First, I saw what is happening on the front lines of the exhibit industry. Second, that inspired me to share my thoughts with you about what worked and didn’t work. So here goes. I hope you enjoy.
#1. Parking Fees at Convention Centers Should Be a Budget Line Item
“Please take your ticket with you for validation.” Translation. Feel free to overpay us inside the convention center before returning to your car or we’ll make you wait for 20 minutes to overpay us in an exhaust-filled deck structure where your satellite radio doesn’t work.
#2. I Was Never a Fan of Homework
As I was preparing to attend PMA, I needed some direction. How was I going to spend a full day on the show floor? What was I looking to accomplish? What trends were worth tracking?
When I mentioned to Mel White at Classic that I was attending PMA, he asked me to look for charging stations in the booths. Is this still a hot trend, not only in islands but also inlines? And are charging stations specific to some shows and not others. Mel was also curious if any 10 x 10 portable/modular exhibitors along the floor perimeter were finding cool new ways to attract attention.
At Mel’s suggestion, I contacted Katina Rigall Zipay, Classic’s Creative Director, to get a designer’s take on my homework assignment. Katina suggested checking on the use of lightboxes, cool rental designs and if graphic wings are still a thing?
With my car securely parked and my homework assignment in hand, I was ready to hit the floor.
#3. Bright Colors and Creative Illumination Reign Supreme
Let me start by stating something obvious… If it grabs your attention from an overcrowded aisle, it’s probably a good thing. Every time I found myself stopping to notice a particular booth it was bright yellow (thank you, Chiquita), a backlit booth (yes, Katina, lightboxes are still a thing), or a graphic that made use of high contrast graphics (colorful fruits and vegetables against a white background was quite the popular look).
#4. Trade Show Rules Were Meant to Be Broken
The best salespeople don’t always make the best booth staffers, and the show floor has its own set of unique rules and regulations. First, all staffers should fully understand what the goals of attending this particular show are. Are you demoing your latest widget? Are you trying to book future appointments? When the show is over and you’re back home, how will the boss measure the success of this particular show?
Seems simple enough, but it’s still one of the rules ignored by many companies at every show. How do I know this? It’s obvious when you see soooo many booth staffers sitting behind a toll booth (any table that stops me from entering the booth), on their smart phones with their heads down, or the biggest sin… booths left unattended with no sign of life.
#5. Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane….
Some booths take full advantage of the third dimension. While most get it right, some are still a work in progress. And when it’s “right,” the results can soar!
#6. Engagement? That’s Got a Nice Ring to It.
If you can engage your attendees with something that makes them stop, notice, and hang around for a bit, it gives staffers the time to capture appropriate information. And in this case, a nice show souvenir.
#7. Think A/V is Expensive? Sometimes It’s More Expensive NOT Using It.
How many fully grown men can we pack around a 13” computer screen? Maybe the real question is how many more you could have harnessed had you listened to your exhibit house and splurged on the 50” monitor?
#8. Use It or Lose It.
Look at what these two companies did to utilize the backside of their booths. One transformed it into a company timeline while the other said, “We can never have TOO much yellow in our booth.”
#9. Honorable (and a Few Dishonorable) Mentions
All these booths have something notable to share.
Finally, My Homework Assignments
After spending the entire day walking up and down the aisles of this year’s PMA at the Anaheim Convention Center, I was able to answer my homework assignments. And realized I’m a little outta practice walking show floors (very sore feet).
Charging Stations. I saw very few charging stations inside the show hall. Hardly any, actually. I did, however, find about 80 charging outlets outside the show hall provided by the Anaheim Convention Center. Interestingly, I had a hard time finding an open spot where I could recharge my phone after snapping all these pics. With so many people utilizing all those charging ports outside the hall, you’d think that some exhibitors would’ve been able to take advantage of bringing a few inside their own booth for attendees in need of a fresh charge. Good ideas don’t fade away. They just get forgotten about.
Portable/Modulars Along the Perimeter. Yes, Mel, some of the perimeter booths certainly grabbed my attention. But not always for the right reason. Remind your clients that they’re at the show for a reason. Best to share those reasons before the show and every morning before the show opens. Maybe even offer a Starbucks gift card to the Boother who “wins” the day’s goal count.
Grabbers. Same as it ever was (thanks, David Byrne). Backlighting.
Colorful Graphics. Engaged Attendees. Accessible Booth Space. Graphics Up Top. And
Good Exhibit Design. The basics are the basics for a good reason. They work.
So while I’d been out of the industry for almost 10 years, some things haven’t changed. The only way to keep your eye on trends is to walk a show floor every now and then. Make it one of your annual goals. Spend a few days during the year walking show floors and observe what catches your attention. Because if it captures YOUR attention, chances are it’ll capture THEIR attention.
Those with a few grey hairs will recognize this line from Monty Python as the abrupt, often nonsensical transition from one skit to another. In this month’s newsletter, we share videos, blog posts, and a 1960’s car ad from Classic Distributor Partners. In other words, something different.
We think you’ll enjoy how cleverly they market their exhibit companies. Are you promoting your company in creative ways? Please let us know.
(2) Empire Display Solutions Videos
At Classic Exhibits, we rarely see show photos, let alone videos of the exhibits we design and build. However, Matthew Houck of Empire Display Solutions shared two professionally edited videos from Natural Products East.
The videographer is James Morano, and Matt and Aniyah Haynes narrate. Jeff Garrett and Alex Lebedev were the PMs and Kim DiStefano the Designer.
Both show how our collaboration with Empire Display Solutions resulted in two amazing custom exhibits.
One of the best bloggers in the trade show industry is Tim Patterson, aka The Tradeshow Guy. He posts, on average, about three blogs a week, including his weekly Monday Morning Coffee video and podcast. His trade show marketing advice is consistently practical, personal, and fun to read.
I’ve learned a lot from Tim over the years and often give his books to new Classic employees as an introduction to the industry. Although we don’t agree on everything, like whether “trade show” should be one or two words, we do agree that trade show marketing is a craft learned from skilled professionals. Below are some recent blog posts.
This has nothing to do with trade shows, but a lot to do with marketing, creativity, and humor. Jim Munro owns USA Exhibits and Gear in Fresno, CA. Recently, he posted the following in LinkedIn about his dad.
In Jim’s words… “I wanted to share this piece of family history from the early 1960’s. My dad was a California auto dealer who specialized in sourcing and selling specialty, hi-performance cars that were popular during this period. The following is a clip from our local newspaper, The Fresno Bee, in 1963.
I know there are some Gearheads out there that will appreciate the creative descriptions. Yes, he was quite a character!”
At Classic Exhibits, we rarely see show photos, let alone videos of the exhibits we design and build. However, Matthew Houck of Empire Display Solutions shared two professionally edited trade show exhibit videos from Natural Products East.
The videographer is James Morano, and Matt and Aniyah Haynes narrate. Jeff Garrett and Alex Lebedev were the PMs and Kim DiStefano the Designer.