Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for June, 2010

TSEA Exhibitors’ Choice Awards

June 29th, 2010 COMMENTS

Classic Exhibits has been nominated for the Best Exhibit House in the 2010 TSEA Exhibitors’ Choice Awards.

We’re shocked, flattered, and frankly a little overheated at the moment. To the person or persons who nominated us — thank you very, very much!

The Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) Exhibitors’ Choice Awards recognize the best in the exhibition industry. The Awards identify companies and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to exhibitors’ success in the face-to-face events industry.

If you would like to vote, please click on the link below.

Voting will take place in June and July, and winners will be announced at TSEA’s Red Diamond Gala on July 14, 2010, in Boston, in conjunction with TS2.

Finally, our thanks to TSEA for the opportunity to participate, and we look forward to seeing everyone in Boston at TS2.

And a very special thanks to all the employees at Classic Exhibits Inc. You deserve it!

Word on the Street — June 21st thru June 25th

June 24th, 2010 2 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Your First Day in High School

Do you remember your first day in high school? This week, I’m doing something I haven’t done in almost 12 years. I’m going to a trade show for the first time.

Now as you might imagine, I have been to many, many trade shows over the years — just like you. But this week I am attending as a first time exhibitor. I can’t remember the last time that happened. And it is an interesting process.

What to bring? How to best approach the attendees? What classes to attend? Etc.

I am used to EXHIBITOR, TS2, and EDPA. I know all the usual suspects, friends, competitors, and even many of the end users that come every year. Those shows have become somewhat of a reunion week for many of us. Don’t get me wrong. The shows are work, and we are constantly creating ways to make our presence at these industry shows fresh . . . but again, it’s still familiar. I know what to expect, what to bring, and what classes to attend.

HCEA Conference in New Orleans

This week I am attending and exhibiting in the HCEA Conference for the first time. And when I originally signed up, I had a clear idea of what our goals were and how the show was going to be. I still have a clear idea of our goals, but I have to admit I have no idea what the show is going to be like. I know some of the players as it relates to fellow exhibitors, but just some . . . and I have no clue what the attendees are like.

I have admit — It’s freaking weird! I have been doing this for 16 years next month, and, yet, I feel like I am walking into freshman year of high school all over again. Knowing some of the kids that attended the same elementary school, but in large part not really knowing anybody and not knowing what the process is like. It is exciting and a bit nerve racking at the same time. In addition, this will be my first visit to New Orleans. I’m still not quite sure how that happen considering my extensive travel schedule.

Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Display by Classic Exhibits

Sacagawea Display for the HCEA Show in New Orleans

Thanks to some very good industry friends, colleagues, and mentors, I was able to ease my nerves a bit after calling them this week. But I must admit, as of Wednesday, I was still calling people asking them what I should wear to the different events associated with the show.

This show is going to be a unique experience for Classic Exhibits. We are partnering with Optima Graphics on a booth space geared solely around Exhibit Design Search. Since neither Optima nor Classic sells anything direct, we are actually going to HCEA in more of a partnership role than anything else. Meaning, our booth space will be another location for Custom Houses to bring their healthcare clients to show them smaller islands, inlines, modulars, hybrids, portables,  and graphics.

I am excited to see how the show turns out and to work closely with many of our existing customers and their clients. I am also attending a full slate of classes offered in the curriculum.

Wish me luck! And if you are attending or exhibiting, I will be the shy guy in the corner twiddling my thumbs afraid to ask the hot Sophomore girl to dance. 🙂 NOT!

Seriously though, if you are in New Orleans for the show, please stop by and say hello to Dave Brown and me. We are in booth #100.

Be well and have a great weekend.

–Kevin Carty

Recent Updates, Price Lists, and Kit Sheets

June 20th, 2010 COMMENTS

Recent Updates, Price Lists, and News

Kevin is on his LIVESTRONG ride this weekend. As you read this, he’s either struggling to climb the final hill on his 100 mile ride (Sunday) or in bed with enough Motrin in his bloodstream to disorient an adult hippopotamus (Monday).

In his absence, we’ve collected two months of Recent Updates, Price Lists, and News about Classic Exhibits and ClassicMODUL into one convenient blog posting.


Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Displays

Sacagawea Price List

  1. New Perfect 10 Price List (price includes all graphics on 10′ and 20′ kits)
  2. New Perfect 10 Kit Sheets
  3. New Sacagawea Price List (price includes all graphics on 10′ and 20′ kits)
  4. New Sacagawea Kit Sheets
  5. ClassicMODUL Poster
  6. ClassicMODUL TSP Silicone Edge Graphics Profiles
  7. Silicone Edge Graphics FAQ


Wholesales prices for rental kits are now available online in Classic’s Distributor Section (See the Rental Gallery). If you do not have the username and password for the Distributor Section,  contact Jim Shelman, any Project Manager at Classic Exhibits, or send an email to

Exhibit Design Search by Classic Exhibits

Updated Exhibit Design Search -- Over 1500 Displays and Exhibits

Exhibit Design Search

Classic’s Exhibit Design Search continues to evolve with new kits, features, and downloads. Here are several recent (and upcoming) enhancements:

  • Electrical and Cord Management Checklist
  • Brumark Flooring Galleries (within the next two weeks)
  • New Kits from Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits
  • Product Videos on Select Kits
  • Assembly Summaries
  • Packaging Options for Workstations, Counters, and Pedestals
  • “See Photos” Links to Specific Kits in Past Five Days Photo Gallery
  • EDS “Search Specific Rotations” (see example on Classic’s EDS site) — Available on on all sites by mid-July
  • Accessories/Options Links
  • Quadro Pop Up Prices with and without Graphics
  • STILL ONLY $300 (there’s no better investment for your website)

Summer Specials

At the request of a distributor, we have priced two of our most popular Visionary Designs kits at a ridiculously low price this summer:  VK-1032 and VK-2044. You know them as the iPhone kits. We’re still scratching our heads why we agreed to this . . . but what’s done is done.

  • VK-1032 | Regular Price:  $13,000  | Summer Price:  $9999
  • VK-2044 | Regular Price: $26,000  | Summer Price:  $19,999

SEGUE Silicone Edge Graphics Kits

We continue to introduce SEGUE Hybrid Kits. The latest introductions are in Design Monday this week. SEGUE kits use Silicone Edge Graphics and TSP profiles from ClassicMODUL. What makes these kits unique? You may think that SEG is appropriate only for large square or rectangle walls. You are half right.

While SEG extrusions are perfect for creating large seamless walls showing minimal aluminum extrusion, you shouldn’t be limited by that. Classic Exhibits can bend many of these extrusions and combine them with our other portable modular systems. This gives you significantly more design opportunities for inlines, islands, and event displays. Don’t ask our competitors to bend their extrusions unless you want to see them squirm like Reid Sherwood at a San Francisco vegan potluck.

Segue DM-0659 Hybrid Display

SEGUE DM-0659 Hybrid

Here are a few examples of SEGUE designs:

For more SEGUE designs, simply enter “SEGUE” in Exhibit Design Search.

TS2 in Boston (July 13-15)

Just in case you’re still waiting for an invitation . . . YOU ARE INVITED to TS2 in Boston! Kevin Carty, Reid Sherwood, Jim Shelman, and Mel White will be there from Classic Exhibits \ ClassicMODUL. Eric Albery will be there as well from Eco-Systems Sustainable. We’ll be showing SEG extrusions, new Magellan and Sacagwea kits, Exhibit Design Search, Rental Options, and lots more in our 20 x 20 island. Stop by. We’d enjoy seeing you.

Give us a call if you would like to arrange an appointment in the booth or outside show hours.

You can find us at booth #315. Download your Free EXPO Pass compliments of Classic Exhibits and ClassicMODUL.

Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits

In case you didn’t see the press release earlier this month, Classic Exhibits is now a significant equity partner in Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits. We’ve been strategic partners for nearly three years, and it just made sense to take the relationship to the next logical step. No later than Q3 2010, Eco-systems production will move to the Portland facility.

To read the complete press release, click on the following link.

Eco-systems Sustainable Exhibits

10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Hybrid Trade Show Display

June 19th, 2010 COMMENTS

Portable Hybrid Displays

Attend any recent trade show and you’ll see many, many hybrid displays. They have gone from the exception to the rule in many show halls over the past two or three years. Visually, the reason is obvious. Hybrids are attractive, lightweight, and feature large format graphics.

But just like any product, there are good, better, and best versions. For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on one segment of hybrid designs:  portable hybrids. There are also modular and custom hybrids.

10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Hybrid Display

1. Weight

Generally a hybrid should be lightweight, whether it’s a 10 x 10 or a 10 x 20 inline. After all, it’s primarily aluminum extrusion and tension fabric or direct print graphics. Expect a basic 10 ft. hybrid to weigh approximately 75 to 95 lbs with the case. Double that for a 20 ft inline. Adding freestanding counters or pedestals will increase the weight proportionately.

2. Assembly

Here’s where you need to do your homework. Portable hybrids generally require a little more assembly than say a pop up display. But, then again, they don’t look like a pop up and have far more features. Assembly time will vary depending on tools or lack of tools. Many systems require a tool for every connection, but there are hybrid systems that have engineered tool-less or mostly tool-less kits. Ask about loose pieces as well. A good hybrid may require tools but it shouldn’t have any loose connector pieces.

Along the same lines, ask about graphics (direct print or tension fabric) and how the graphics attach. You’ll want graphics that are durable, vibrant, and easy to attach. There are many methods to attach graphics — some easy, such as Velcro, others difficult, such as pole pocket. Choose one that fits your comfort level.

3. Design

Yes, design is subjective, but it shouldn’t be limited. To use an apple metaphor, if your choices are between a Gala, a Gravenstein, or a Fuji, then what’s the point. Wouldn’t you rather choose between an apple, a pineapple, a banana, or even a starfruit.

Don’t limit yourself. Ask to see as many examples as possible within your budget.

4. Accessories

Portable hybrids should do more than just stand there and look pretty. They should be functional as well. At a minimum, you’ll want to see as much variety as possible when choosing counters, workstations, literature holders, kiosks, lights, and locking storage. One size does not fit all when it comes to portable hybrids, bathing suits, and toupees.

5. Packaging and Instructions

Too often, you discover that the manufacturer hired Capuchin helper monkeys to pack and label your display. It pays to do your homework. The packaging should be reusable with easily identifiable slots for all the parts, and the packaging should look as professional as the exhibit, otherwise it gets tossed after the first show.

The instructions should be in clear English with corresponding images or photos. Ideally, every part should be labeled (A, B, C or 1, 2, 3), and the labels should be attached discretely to the parts. You’ll want them to be invisible once the display is assembled but visible when you assemble it the 47th time.

6. Graphics

The smaller graphics are typically direct print on Sintra, Lexan, or acrylic. No problem there. It’s the large format graphic(s) that can get a little confusing. There are direct, fabric, and dye-sub tension fabric graphics. Most manufacturers typically have a preference.

What’s best? Honestly, why would you choose anything but dye-sub tension fabric graphics? They’re lightweight, durable, fold flat, are vibrant, and can be washed in mild detergent. When made with high quality materials, wrinkles disappear within a few minutes. There are even eco-friendly green options.

7. Warranty

While the 30/30 Rule may apply at the swap meet, it should not apply when purchasing a portable hybrid display. Ask about the warranty, and ask about the unwritten warranty. What’s the “unwritten warranty”? Does the manufacturer back their product to the letter of the law or are they flexible based on the circumstances? Ask your distributor. They’ll know which manufacturers are customer friendly and which are “sales” friendly.

8. Distributor

This is still a consultative business. You’re not buying gas or bread or dinnerware. You’re purchasing a 3D marketing structure for about the price of a small car. Chances are you’re not an expert in trade show marketing, although you may be a whiz in marketing in general. Trade show marketing is different — not rocket scientist different but different nevertheless. Trade shows can be expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing. Once you add up the show space, show services, hotel, travel expenses, giveaways, and the display costs, you’ll want to make sure you did everything possible to maximize your return on investment (ROI).

Your trade show distributor does this for a living (duh?!). They’ve seen more mistakes and more successes in trade show marketing than you’ll see in a lifetime. Rely on them. And if they are an idiot, then go somewhere else but don’t go it alone. Great trade show distributors are worth their weight in free pens, calculators, and stress balls.

9. Manufacturer

It matters. Enough said.

10. Price

In a perfect world, you’d buy whatever trade show display your heart desires complete with laser lights, celebrity dancers, and milk chocolate fountains. You have a budget, which may be flexible, but it’s probably not as elastic as those sweat pants you should have thrown away after high school.

Price equals something — design, quality, convenience, etc. We all have a sweet spot where price, value, and performance intersect. Before making a decision, consider everything you’ve learned in #1 through #9.

Let us know your thoughts. We’d enjoy hearing from you.

–Mel White
Classic Exhibits Network (LinkedIn)

Shooting from the Hip — 8.10 (Really Columbus?)

June 18th, 2010 COMMENTS

Shooting from the Hip (trade show tips)

Shooting from the Hip by Reid Sherwood

Really Columbus?

The week’s travels were challenging, but the meetings made up for any hassles. I can’t complain too much. A couple of canceled flights allowed me, on my 23rd wedding anniversary, to have dinner with my wife instead of my good pal, Kevin Carty. Vicki, thank you for the 23 years of adult child care you have provided. Remember, I am still the acorn waiting to become the giant oak.

I made a quick trip to “Hotlanta,” and I mean HOT. There is an interesting buzz in the air. Things are pretty dead now, but the fall looks to be rock solid. Both modular and custom distributors are saying the same thing — smaller modular exhibits are in demand. That’s great news for Classic’s Visionary Designs and Euro LT lines.

Some of you have read on other social media websites that I had to divorce my iPhone. I have come to grips with that. I have switched to Sprint and purchased the EVO to replace my iPhone. As a general rule, I like the phone. However, the battery life is worse than awful, and it performs much worse than promised. That brings me to this true story.

I was calling a Sprint store in Atlanta to make an appointment with the service dept to see what could be done to remedy the battery-life problem. I am talking to the sales associate and getting directions to the store. I asked if they are east or west of the Interstate. The sales associate replies in a rather condescending voice, “Sir, that is going to depend on whether you are coming from downtown or are headed downtown.” I couldn’t resist. I replied, “Really Columbus?”

Hope to see many of you at TS2 in Boston! Let us know if you need a free pass.

Talk to you next week  . . .

–Reid Sherwood