Trade Show TalesBlog

Is It Too Early for 2017 Predictions?

November 25th, 2016 COMMENTS

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Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. Then 2017. Yes, it might be a little early for predictions, but we just completed our 2017 budget so the future has been on our minds for several months.

Here’s what our Magic 8 Ball tells us. Industry predictions from Kevin and Mel.

Elections Always Bring Doubt. This year more than most. However, there’s a difference between uncertain uncertainty and certain uncertainty. Just in the past two weeks, we’ve seen a significant increase in design requests, whether trade show, corporate environments, or events. We expect that to continue through Q1 and Q2.

We believe that 2017 will mimic 2015. More new builds with a focus on “I want what I want.” Less of “I’ll get what I need.” If that holds true, we will all benefit.

Generalist vs. Specialist. In our collective little world, you better be an anal-retentive, opportunistic generalist. We can no longer pretend to just do trade shows or events or museum or retail design. We must embrace all 3D opportunities available. I’m amazed at the projects leaving our dock which will never be on a trade show floor. They’ll be at a sales meeting, in a mall, in a corporate conference room, or a bracket for a wireless product.

Change is inevitable. What you don’t know, you learn or partner with someone with “a particular set of skills.” Two years ago, we didn’t know squat about charging stations. Now, we can’t build them fast enough.

Trade Show and Event Charging StationsCharging Stations, Lightboxes, Rental Furniture. I won’t belabor this. You’ve heard us say it before. It’s basically free money on nearly every trade show order if you include charging stations, lightboxes, and rental furniture. Ignoring these hot trends will negatively impact your income.

Rental Exhibits and Accessories. It’s hard to ignore a 25% sales increase year-over-year for seven straight years. We expect rentals to continue at this pace. Just this year, Jim Shelman and his team added a significant inventory of Gravitee Modular Solutions which has proven to reduce I&D and drayage costs for clients while expanding his already impressive design portfolio.

Branded Environments. Customers want their corporate environments, show floor spaces, and events to be consistent. Meaning, branding in all spaces will only continue to grow. This includes re-purposing graphic messaging or, better yet, using parts of their exhibit in their corporate environments during off-show times.

Data Analytics on Steroids. Data analytics appears to be poised for a massive leap. This includes the ability to track movement, “hang time” in a space, and influence an event in real-time. All driven by the desire to track engagement and make adjustments on the fly to meet attendee needs during an event or a show.

Sustainable Trade Show DisplaysSustainability. It’s not a new topic, but it got shelved by many exhibitors during the recession. 2017 will see a renewed push for sustainable materials and practices in corporate exhibit and event programs.

Less is More. Exhibitors continue to rely on “system” structures like aluminum extrusions to build their properties. But less and less of it is seen via creative graphic applications or integrated custom wood fabrication, cladding, powder-coating, etc. Aluminum extrusion sales are increasing… we’re just seeing less of it visually.

Company-Managed Trade Shows. 2016 saw a big increase in companies managing their own shows. These were often branded as events but in reality were in-house mini-shows with their preferred partners and customers. It allows companies to define the attendee list and manage what attendees see (and don’t see). That’s not to say that companies are abandoning their exhibit programs at national shows. Not at all. But adding these events gives them a higher ROI for specific product launches, training sessions, or sales events.

Gravitee One-Step Modular SystemAssembly, Shipping, and Drayage. These concerns never go away, whether it’s 2008 or 2017. If you’re not designing and engineering to minimize these issues, then you are an ostrich with your head in the sand. We believe that Gravitee represents the first comprehensive solution. No tools. No loose parts. Curves. Flat panels. Wire management. Fabric and direct print graphics. And seamless connectivity to the MODUL Aluminum Extrusion System. Yes, this is a blatant plug for Gravitee, but it’s also a prediction. Gravitee will be front and forward in 2017.

Please share your thoughts and predictions in the comments. What did we miss or get wrong?

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite


 

 

 

Shared Knowledge University Vlog by Kevin Carty

November 21st, 2016 COMMENTS

We wrapped up Shared Knowledge University last week. Another amazing group of attendees! There’s just something about SKU that sparks joy, delight, and the urge to sing kumbaya (at least silently). Kevin offers his take on SKU, EDPA Access, and several other topics in this vlog.

5 Classic Tips x 5 Days = 25 All Right | Final Day

November 11th, 2016 COMMENTS

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The Past is Not a Predictor of the Future.

Just ask Nokia and Blackberry. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. So, let’s end on a happy note and chat about trends. Namely, what we’ve seen in 2016 that (we believe) will continue in 2017.

Tip #21 — Charging Stations

Sometimes it’s good to be both lucky and smart. We’ve sold lots and lots and lots of charging tables and stations in 2016 by tapping into a design need. Exhibitors want charging options that don’t look like they stole them from the airport. They have to blend into the exhibit or event environment.

Charging stations say to clients, “Come into the booth and linger. Let’s talk about your business needs.” If you are a fishbowl exhibitor, then a charging option may not make sense, except for your staff. Which is OK too.

Tip #22 — Rental Displays and Accessories

Rental Displays are the fastest growing division of Classic Exhibits Inc. That’s not going to change in 2017. Exhibitors are looking for financial and design flexibility. Quality rentals are no longer a compromise either for the exhibitor or for the exhibit sales professional. And truth be told, there’s far more money to be made on repeat rentals than on a purchase.

When a client enters your door, your first question should be, “Are you looking to purchase or rent?” You can’t lose if you offer both at the get-go.

Tip #23 — Lightboxes and LED Lighting

I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Lightboxes are on fire! Well, you know what I mean. What you may not realize is that LED lighting has become a hot add-on for counters, workstations, monitor stands, even perimeter graphics as well. The price is reasonable, and the visual effect is amazing.

We’ve become experts at RGB programmable LED lights. Tune them to the right color to match a logo or let them dance through the color spectrum.

Tip #24 — Events, Retail, and Corporate Environments

The change is noticeable. We are seeing a double-digit uptick in orders in events, retail, and corporate environments. The event business is evenly divided between rentals and purchase. Corporate environments and retail are all purchases, evenly divided between custom builds and SEG solutions. We would all be naive to think this trend is slowing any time soon.

Tip #25 — Rental Furniture

Rental Furniture Header

Is it just me or is there a lot more rental furniture on the trade show floor? I asked several Exhibit Appointed Contractors (EAC) last summer to estimate the percentage of booths with rental furniture. I expected them to say 20-30 percent. They told me 70-95%. Yowsa!

About 5 months ago, we partnered with CORT to add two Rental Furniture Galleries to Exhibit Design Search. We recognized that Classic distributors could make money on rental furniture by adding it to EDS with retail prices. Every time you don’t use it, you are giving money away to the General Service Contractors. Like they need any more money. Sheesh!

I hope you enjoyed these 25 tips. I know I did. Look for three new charging stations in Design Monday this week.

Have a terrific weekend.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite


 

5 Classic Tips x 5 Days = 25 Tasty Bites | Day #4

November 10th, 2016 COMMENTS

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You Love Your Children Equally.

But you have a favorite, even if just a little. Yesterday, we talked about the Top 5. Today, we discuss five online children who deserve more love and attention.

Tip #16 — Graphic Inspiration Galleries

Glenna Martin, our Graphic Design Manager, is the genius behind the Graphic Inspiration Galleries. She knows, as do you, that most graphic designers rarely tackle 3D graphic design. They understand print and web, but designing for a display is a foreign language. Glenna lends a hand.

She created four galleries from Past Five Day photos. In each gallery, she describes why a graphic is successful. There are over one hundred examples. All positive. It’s a wonderful instructional playground for any graphic designer.

Tip #17 — Distributor Login

In the old days, every exhibit manufacturer had a top-secret distributor section. It was the vault of prices, literature, policies, etc. Those days are largely gone. However, we still have a condensed version where you can find literature, forms, and other helpful tools. It also contains a link to the Rental Gallery wholesale prices. So, how secret is it? Here’s the username (classicexhibits) and password (easypeasy). But don’t share!

Tip #18 — Printable Literature

OverAt the top of the Classic home page, there is a rotating banner. If you click on it at just the right time, you will be taken to a magical page where you can download printable literature. This includes 22 product and “Under” brochures. I’m not opposed to using guilt as a motivator. So… You’ll hurt my feelings if you don’t click on this link.

Tip #19 — Hear Audio

The “Hear Audio” buttons are my baby. Most kits have a Hear Audio button where you can listen to a 30-60 second description of the product. All are done by professional voice talent. Ditto on the “hurt feelings” if you don’t click on them.

Tip #20 — Trade Show Tips

Trade Show Tips is a happening place, much like a middle child who wants attention. End-users find it via Google or Bing. I often hear from newbies in the industry who tap into it as their “Introduction to Trade Shows and Trade Show Marketing.” And like the Trade Show Tales blog, new articles are added to keep it fresh. We encourage you to suggest article ideas.

Wondering about the latest trends in Trade Show Land? Check out #21 thru #25 tomorrow.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite


 

5 Classic Tips x 5 Days = 25 Highlights | Day #3

November 9th, 2016 COMMENTS

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Finding the Right Tool is a Blessing.

What tools do your fellow distributors use on the Classic Exhibits website? Here are the Top 5. Some may surprise you.

Tip #11 — EDS Search

I know. Duh? With EDS, you can search for kits (VK-1234), features (shelves), and products (Aero). Just as helpful is Advanced Search, a link below the Search box. Advanced Search allows you to further narrow your search by a price range, product line, and feature (i.e., monitors). You can also sort by lowest to highest prices, newest designs, and even alphabetically.

Tip #12 — My Gallery

There is no EDS tool more powerful than My Gallery. Often imitated, never duplicated. Tips #12 – #15 could be just on My Gallery. My Gallery lets you build a listing that includes not only kits, but also photos and articles. Imagine being a client who gets a My Gallery link with kit renderings, kit photos, and articles on successful trade show marketing. That’s a very powerful consultative message.

I urge you to use the URL tool in My Gallery. It’s the easiest way to share ideas from your personal email address and branded EDS site.

Tip #13 — Search for Setup Instructions

Search for Setup Instructions = INSTANT SMILE. There’s no happier tool on the Classic Exhibits website. For ten years, we’ve loaded all setup instructions into a database. At the same time, we’ve told your customers where to find their instructions using stickers on their setup instructions booklets, cases, and crates.

No need to panic on Sunday morning in Las Vegas or Orlando. Simply enter the URL into your phone, tablet, or laptop and type in the five-digit order number. Voila! The PDF of the instructions. We are baffled why every manufacturer doesn’t do this.

Tip #14 — Peek-a-Booth Webcams

“Are you kidding me? That’s brilliant!” That’s the typical response when we describe Peek-a-Booth to new Classic Distributors. But you don’t have to be a newbie to appreciate Peek-a-Booth. We have five webcams mounted in our shop:  (3) in the purchase setup and (2) in the rental setup. These are pan and zoom webcams. Perfect for previewing your order before it ships.

Save your client the time and effort of having to ship their display to your facility for a preview. Let Peek-a-Booth be the preview. Ask a PM for the username and password. Then guard it with your life!

Tip #15 — Exhibit Specials and Lightning Deals

eds-lightning-deal-largeWhat’s the difference between Exhibit Specials and Lightning Deal? Exhibit Specials are multiple kits at promotional prices for two months. The key — “two months.” The Lightning Deal is an aggressively priced kit on sale for two weeks. Just one kit. Again, the key — “two weeks.” We don’t email you when we make the updates. They just happen. We figure you get enough emails from us already. Both the Specials and the Deal are in EDS.

Done. Feel free to grunt like Tim “The Toolman” Taylor on Home Improvement. You deserve it.

Tomorrow, five “Underutilized Gems” you’ll love like your middle child. Tips #16-20.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
https://twitter.com/melmwhite