Trade Show TalesBlog

Word on the Street — November 9th thru November 13th

November 14th, 2009 3 COMMENTS
Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Love thy Neighbor (Unless They Own a ’79 Chevette on Cinder Blocks) 

Most neighborhood developments in America since the early ’90’s have covenants. These covenants specify what you can and can not do to your house, your lawn, and even whether you can park your land yacht in your  driveway or paint your house bright pink. Why do neighborhoods impose these covenants? Basically, so you do not end up living next to neighbor with 4 ft. tall grass, plastic pink flamingos, and a ’79 Chevette on cinder blocks.

I propose that we consider similar guidelines for the trade show floor.

This past week, I walked the Greenbuild Show in Phoenix. Let me start off by saying that the show was gorgeous — It was seriously one of the most beautiful and well-managed events I have attended in years. Kudos to Champion Exposition Services for putting on such a great event. Kudos to most of the exhibitors for their creative and stunning exhibits.

However, like all shows, there were still some black eyes. On Wednesday, Tim Morris,  the President of Eco-systems Sustainable Displays, and I walked the floor for most of the day. And we both had a few moments where we shuddered a bit. I’m not including photos to protect the exhibitors in question, but man-o-man were there some doozies!

We were walking down an aisle filled with beautiful 10 x 10 and 10 x 20 inlines, mainly hybrid display systems, when we came upon Mr. Blue Fabric Pop Up planted between two of the most spectacular 10 x 20 inline exhibits on the aisle. Well, this pop-up looked like a dress shirt that had been balled up in the closet for about 24 months! Panels were wrinkled to the point that I am pretty sure they were folded and not rolled. Detachable graphics were nothing more than printed pieces of paper that had been stapled into place . . . CROOKED! And the topper (pun intended) was the header graphic . . . or lack thereof. It was the black and white sign provided by show services, hung haphazardly and off-center.

Now, I realize that we are in a rough economy and that people are pinching pennies — but REALLY!?!?

As Tim and I walked past, we couldn’t help but comment to the other exhibitors. They were not amused by Mr. Blue Fabric Pop Up. Their exhibits were beautiful and their neighbor was a ’79 Chevette on cinder blocks.  It really did detract from their professional exhibits, and, it seriously made people walking past not want to engage the exhibitors surrounding Mr. Blue Fabric Pop Up. We watched it happen.

I know it’s a slippery slope, but I really think there should be some basic “aesthetic” guidelines that exhibitors must adhere to.

What do you think? And please share your examples of Mr. Blue Pop Up. Photos are optional.

Have a safe and restful weekend!

–Kevin Carty

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3 Responses to “Word on the Street — November 9th thru November 13th”

  1. Mel says:

    Kevin —

    For a second, I was afraid you were going to slam my 1975 Vega notchback.

    Great posting. I was at a show last month, and there were at least a 6 or 7 booths that consisted of the 6 ft table provided by show management and a vinyl banner sign duct taped to the drape. I swear this is true . . . one of the exhibitors was a graphic design agency.

    –Mel

    p.s. Here’s a helpful video on “How to Make a Duct Tape Wallet”: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1310446/duct_tape_wallet/

  2. Yes, if you’re next to an ugly booth, your Nice and Shiny Custom Exhibit will surely look better!

    But as important is WHAT the tradeshow staff are doing. If the staff in the Nice and Shiny Custom Exhibit are eating, talking on the cell phone, standing with arms folded, etc., it’s easy to ignore them. On the other hand, if Mr. Blue Fabric Pop Up has a couple of great staffers that are smiling and engaging attendees – maybe they even have a compelling story as to WHY their booth looks junky – and are doing the right things to engage with folks as they pass by, they may still come away with more leads than the Nice and Shiny exhibit.

    The booth look is important – but the interaction between your staff and attendees is critical, too.

    (I would say if the booth staff in Nice and Shiny are chewing gum, eating, talking on cell phone, ignoring visitors, etc., the company spent their money in the wrong place – they should invest in some staff training – along with their new booth!)

  3. Mel,

    We believe you, but how sad for the Graphic Design agency!

    Image is created by environments and experiences, and I agree that it takes strategy and preparation for the booth presentation as well as the staff.

    BTW, love the Duct Tape Wallet tutorial!

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