Distributor Open House
I attended a Distributor Open House recently, where the distributor invited customers to see the latest trends in trade show marketing (ExhibiTrends 2011). Over 20 exhibit-related companies participated, ranging from portable manufacturers to lead-generating companies, and from flooring suppliers to graphic providers. The event was well-organized and extremely successful. About 300 current and potential customers walked the event.
I don’t know how many of your are planning to attend EXHIBITOR, but I thought I’d pass along my observations from the Open House since I expect (and hope) they echo what we’ll see in Las Vegas in about three weeks.
I spoke with about 90 end-users that day. For the most part, these folks had portable/modular displays and were considering newer options.
- Several vendors, including Classic Exhibits, showed Silicone Edge Graphics and SEG displays. Most end-users had never seen this graphic treatment, but quickly understood how it worked and the benefits. We showed the SEGUE Sunrise and the VK-1900 . . . two very different displays at two very different price points.
- The SEGUE Sunrise, in particular, appealed to those customers with pop up displays who wanted something new at about the same price and the same setup time.
- Knob-Assembly. Here’s where I’m going to show my ignorance. Why is Classic the only display manufacturer with knob-assisted assembly for their portable hybrid lines, such as Perfect 10, Sacagawea, and Magellan? The end-users at the event loved it!
- Almost every customer interaction went like this . . .
- The Look. They loved the curves of a portable hybrid, like the Miracle, MOR, and P10. Nearly everyone said it as a more custom, more high-end look than their current displays. Oddly enough, and I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised, there was no one design the group liked best. Their preferences were evenly divided among the six displays.
- The Feel. Most had no experience with tension fabric graphics or engineered aluminum extrusion. It only took a minute or two for them to recognize the benefits once they touched the frame, the graphics, and the knobs.
- The Price. Obviously, prices vary on our hybrid systems. These end-users saw a $3000 Sunrise, (2) $6500 Magellans, a $7500 Perfect 10, a $2000 SEGUE lightbox, and an $11,000 SEGUE. Here’s where I was surprised — No one balked, no one flinched, no one objected to the prices! After two years of hearing, “It’s TOO MUCH!”, it was a pleasure to see sanity return to the exhibit market.
Toward the end of the event, I walked the floor to see the other exhibits. I saw one pop-up, and it was for a lighting company. Not one display manufacturer was showing a true pop up. Optima Graphics had an Xpression, but I’m not counting that as a traditional pop up. Everything else was a hybrid, a modular, or a tube structure with pillowcase graphics. I’ll be curious, and I invite you to do the same, to count how many pop up displays are shown at EXHIBITOR.
Don’t misinterpret me. I’m not predicting the demise of the pop up. Goodness knows, we sell LOTS and LOTS of Quadro EO and Quadro S kits. However, we may be witnessing a tipping point in conjunction with the end of the recession. Customers who have deferred purchases for two to three years are back in the market. They are willing to spend money, however cautiously. When they purchase, they want something different. Something with most of the benefits of a pop up display, but without the ho-hum, been-there, done-that look. If those end-users are a guide to what we can expect to see at EXHIBITOR, then expect to see lots of interest in portable and modular hybrids, especially those that do more than simply mimic the look of a pop up.
Best of luck to everyone at EXHIBITOR. Please visit us at booth #1455. We’ll show you our latest island configurations, rental designs, Eco-systems Sustainable Displays, and, of course, the best portable and modular hybrids in the industry.