Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for March, 2010

What You Should Know about Trade Show Services

March 31st, 2010 1 COMMENT

Trade Show ServicesWhat You Should Know about Trade Show Services

Onsite trade show services include all services available at the show site. Contractors typically provide these services for show management.

Onsite Labor

Show management contracts with a union or non-union labor company to provide the show site installation and dismantle services (I&D). The designated labor company may also provide the decoration (pipe and drape, aisle carpet and registration counters). They are also responsible for ensuring the installation is completed on time and the facility is cleared after the event.

Using onsite labor is convenient but not mandatory. Exhibitors can contract with any labor company as long as the labor company complies with the local rules and regulations as well as the show policies and procedures. The onsite labor contractor has a service desk onsite, and their labor forms are conveniently included with the show forms. If you need more labor on the show floor, you can easily request it. Most exhibitors use the show labor since it is convenient.. Those that don’t use onsite labor generally have a working relationship with another labor company.

At a union regulated show site, the unions define what you can do during set-up and dismantle. Generally there is a ratio of a few laborers to one company representative. You are permitted to handle all your products. The labor crew is responsible for handling display components, power tools, and ladders. However, most crews are flexible if you demonstrate good faith.

Planning is very, very important. Remember to schedule time for flooring and electrical before you schedule a set-up crew to your booth. Likewise, plan for a delay in getting your crates delivered to your booth space at the conclusion of the show. There are lots of crates to be delivered, and it always takes time coordinate the deliveries.

Onsite Electrical / Internet

The show contractor also provides electrical and Internet services. Only licensed electricians can set-up and dismantle electrical wiring and connections in your exhibit. It the most literal sense, this includes screwing in a light bulb, but most exhibitors take this to mean the wiring and circuitry. Electricians review the wire grounding and the breaker loads, and look for exposed or unsafe hacker wiring and connections. Electricity is the primary threat on the show floor. High power runs everywhere. Fires are a real danger when you consider all the wood, carpet, and plastic concentrated on an exhibit hall.


Manufacturing is a Funny and Fickle Business

March 31st, 2010 2 COMMENTS

classic_qualityManufacturing is a funny and fickle business. Products are designed, engineered, built, tested . . . then re-engineered, re-tested, and finally launched (hopefully to eager and admiring customers). Most companies do their best to get it right. They care about quality, especially on new products.

I’ve been in the trade show exhibit business long enough to have seen some oddities regarding product launches. I once worked for a company that introduced a new pop up that was an engineering masterpiece. I’m still in awe of the engineer who developed the self-locking hub. At the time, everyone, and I mean everyone, thought there were no new wrinkles in pop up displays. They were wrong. Everything about this pop up frame was remarkable . . . except for one thing:  the plastic. The engineer spec’d the wrong plastic and the brittle plastic broke within two or three months. The company bit the bullet however, despite having $50,000 in plastic parts, and modified the molds and re-ordered the parts with the correct plastic.

But what about existing products? For years there was a pop up manufacturer that sold a frame with plastic connectors. The connectors would break if you didn’t baby them. And rather than re-design the connectors, the manufacturer solved the problem by basically ignoring the real problem. Instead, whenever you bought a new pop up, they would include a repair kit which included additional connectors. I believe the term was “field repairable,” which meant that it was “field breakable.” Many companies expend all their energy on new product development and ignore existing products. After all, when it comes to existing products, it’s easy to blame the customer for not installing it correctly or not reading the instructions or simply not being satisfied with “good enough.”

You’re probably wondering if I have a point. Classic is not a “field repairable” or “good enough” company, at least I don’t think we are. But, we’re also not infallible. We sometimes make mistakes, but those mistakes are quickly rectified and then the solution is re-designed into future products.

For example, the Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Display has undergone several enhancements since its introduction about 10 months ago. We modified the base plates to make them lighter. In addition, we replaced hex key connections on the backwall with knobs to make the displays easier to set-up. Recently, we modified the horizontal spline connector, which makes the connection tighter and eliminates a small gap in the horizontal crossbar. I don’t know that anyone ever complained about it, but it bothered us and our Production Engineer came up with a slick and simple solution. We now use this solution for the Magellan Displays as well. I can’t show it to you (since I don’t want to give our competitors any ideas), but I will show you the result. See the photos below.

Modified Horizontal Crossbar on Sacagawea Hybrid Display

Modified Horizontal Crossbar on Sacagawea Hybrid Display

Now I’m generally not someone who likes to tell tales, but I do love a good story. Do you have any examples of products or solutions where you were told by the manufacturer that they were “good enough”? Or you were given a solution that wasn’t really a solution, but just a band-aid. How do you respond to that logic?

–Mel White
Classic Exhibits Network (LinkedIn)

Word on the Street — March 22nd thru March 26th

March 28th, 2010 1 COMMENT
Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Following Up on Trade Show Leads

To be honest, I could almost just say “I was following up on leads” and you would get the gist of my week. But I will expand, while keeping it short, because I am still in full follow-up mode even this weekend.

First, I am going to gripe a bit. Like many of you, I attend a fair number of shows. Sorta comes with the job description. Although many are industry related, there are others I attend if I’m in the area or if I know we have built a display at that show. But I am going to pick on one show in particular . . . without naming it.

This show starts every year around the same time as EXHIBITOR. Sometimes even the same week. That was your only hint! And I love this show. Lots of cool new products, ideas, etc. For the past several years, I have walked the show for one or two days. And let me clarify, I’m not picking on the show, but the exhibitors at the show.

Now, whenever you exhibit, there are a lot of related expenses. Even with a 10 x 10 display, you have the cost of the booth space, the flooring, the exhibit, the staff expense, and transportation to name a few. The bottom line is this — it is a significant investment, and one that goes up exponentially as you increase the size of your booth space.

So here is my gripe . . . How is it that I received a brochure and letter from a company that scanned my badge at the 2009 show in October (nearly 7 months AFTER the SHOW)? Now that is an extreme, but I just can not fathom why anyone would not address all leads within at least two weeks of returning from a trade show. With each passing day, your ROI just shrinks and shrinks. BTW– I’ve yet to hear from anyone at this year’s show.

newce_logoSo, the front end of last week was two-fold:  getting to all the emails and voice mails while I was in Las Vegas and  addressing all the end-user leads. Meaning . . . getting them into the hot hands of our distributors. And I am proud to say that with the exception of one lead, every one of those end-users has been contacted by a Classic Distributor in their respective areas. To that, I say a BIG THANK YOU!

The latter part of the week was the beginning of a much longer lead follow-up process — new distributor leads. Those take longer because we do a little research before contacting them. If there’s a fit, we set-up web training and start the basic paperwork. We are well on our way and are excited about filling some gaps in the distributor network with several very professional companies that share our customer service and business philosophies.

That was my week. On Thursday I was questioned by a fellow Classic employee who asked, “Are you slammed this week because we haven’t even seen you”? Happily I said, “YEP…Slammed” 🙂

Hope the weekend is restful and good for you. Please feel free to share any comments.

Be well

–Kevin Carty

Common Marketing Mistakes Can Doom Successful Companies

March 25th, 2010 COMMENTS
Common Marketing Mistakes

Common Marketing Mistakes

Occasionally, we all need a not-so-gentle kick in the pants about Marketing. Kevin Renner, in an article appearing in the Portland Business Journal, reminds us that marketing is more than brochures, trade shows, and data sheets. Marketing with a capital “M” must be infused in the totality of the organization. Even something as simple as where customers park in company parking lot can make or break a deal. He goes on to explain:

“The biggest sin:  CEO’s don’t understand what marketing is, or what they should demand from their chief marketing officers . . . . Countless executives view marketing as the part of the organization that does the brochures or the trade shows.”

I’d enjoy hearing your comments on this column. See the link below for the article.

–Mel White
Classic Exhibits Network (LinkedIn)

Preview the NEW Peek-a-Booth Video Cameras

March 24th, 2010 2 COMMENTS
Live Web Cam from Classic Exhibits

Live Web Cam from Classic Exhibits

As a dedicated reader of the Trade Show Tales Blog, you deserve something extra. No, not money, at least not this month, but we are announcing a new feature on the Classic Exhibits website called Peek-a-Booth. An e-broadcast announcement will be sent in a few days, but as a “Preferred Reader” you deserve a sneak peek (pun intended).

As you know, we pride ourselves on “transparency” with our employees, our suppliers, and our distributors. We’re not by nature either secretive or paranoid. We believe that the more you know about our business the more likely we’ll work together to find solutions and opportunities. There’s always a danger in being open and honest, but we feel it’s worth the risk. Past Five Days is a good example. Everyday you see a sample of the exhibit and event projects passing through our facility.

We decided to take the P5D concept to the next logical step — a live video feed. We mounted two pan and zoom cameras in our Production Set-up Area. These cameras stream live video 24 hours a day. Once you enter the username and password, you can see your project (or any project) in real-time and can control each camera’s movement. Very cool!

The username will always be the same:  classicexhibits. The password changes everyday. You can obtain the current password by emailing or by contacting a Project Manager.

To preview Peek-a-Booth today (Friday, March 26, 2010), the password is: hyS2iWxZ


Please share your thoughts about this new feature. Is it valuable for you (as a distributor), and do you see it as beneficial to your customers as well?

–Mel White
Classic Exhibits Network (LinkedIn)