Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for November, 2013

Healthcare and an Exhibit House: Word on the Street — November 11th thru November 15th

November 17th, 2013 4 COMMENTS
Healthcare and an Exhibit House

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Healthcare Reform

For those who read my weekly post, you know I use it to think out loud on occasion. This week, I want to talk about a touchy topic. Not from any political bent, but because it’s on the news, the radio, and discussed around the water cooler.

The issue of Healthcare Reform affects us all personally and professionally. At Classic, we have attempted to stay on top of it in anticipation of the changes to our employees. Mel White, Beth Senter, and I have had quarterly review meetings with our insurance broker since Q4 2012. And each meeting/review comes with a new list of information, changes, and uncertainties.

Without getting into the details, it has been disheartening mainly because we have not been able to pin down the changes and the cost. At Classic, we pay for the lion share of our employees’ health coverage. Something the three of us have been passionate about and proud of our ability to do so.

But the looming question we face is — Will we be able to maintain the same level of company-paid coverage? If so, what will be the cost? And if the cost rises appreciably how will we pay for it and remain competitive? Right now, we don’t know. Fortunately, our renewal isn’t for another five months so we have a little time. And much is changing.

I believe that we all deserve access to affordable healthcare. But I wonder what is the definition of “affordable” and who is writing the definition. After our Q2 2013 meeting with our insurance broker, I left feeling like my definition of affordable was in sync with what the TV and radio pundits were chattering about. But after our Q3 2013 meeting, I was left scratching my head as to what some folks thought was “affordable” because the very preliminary cost projections had increased.

Now granted, we have seen a myriad of proposed changes recently. And even before the ACA, we went through these potential scary healthcare price increases each year, but it always turned out fine.

If this blog seems disjointed, it’s because the whole concept of what we are about to embark on as country seems disjointed. I don’t remember a time in my life, personally and or professionally, where I have felt more like, “I just don’t know.” And that is inherently sad and frustrating to me because I have faced big medical issues in the past and even larger medical bills.

How are you dealing with this topic at your company? What will be the coverage? What will it cost? What are your options? If you are facing this now, what decisions are you making?

I would love to hear from you. I welcome your calls, your comments, and your emails. Your insights are very important to me. Thanks.



Portable Modular Awards | Call for Entries: Word on the Street — November 4th thru November 8th

November 9th, 2013 COMMENTS
Portable Modular Award | Call for Entries

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

You Know — The PMA’s!

In case you haven’t heard, the fine folks at EXHIBITOR have added a great event to EXHIBITOR2014 — The Portable Modular Awards. This inaugural event will be held on Tuesday evening March 18, 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

This long awaited and much needed event will honor the finest in design and building within our segment of the industry. And don’t let the name fool you. These are not your Grandpa’s Banner Stands, Pop Ups and Fabric Panel Systems. NO! As you are well aware, our segment of the industry has seen an evolution over the past ten years, an evolution leading with Hybrid and Custom Hybrid Solutions for clients in all segments and booth sizes.

Deadlines for entries are soon. Entries will be accepted in 11 categories. Early Bird entries are due no later than December 2 ($100 per entry). The final deadline follows on it’s heels on December 9 ($150 per entry). DO NOT miss this opportunity to show off your company’s designs, especially the ones Classic Exhibits has built. 🙂 Really, this is a great opportunity to network at the show and brag on the talents of your designers as well as your suppliers’ designers.

Classic will be entering several designs and strongly encourages Classic Distributors to do so as well. Are there particular builds we have worked on together over the past year that you wish to enter? Work with our designers to gather the files and to pull together your entry. There have been so many beautiful projects this year. It would be a shame not to see them recognized by others in our design-driven industry.

Entering is easy! But the clock is ticking.

And rest assured, this award show will not involve any twerking! Well, ya never know what might happen when someone wins I suppose.

Have a wonderful week ahead.



Customized Tablet Stand with Disability Access (Video)

November 7th, 2013 COMMENTS

Recently, a Classic Exhibits Distributor asked us to customize the MOD-1353 iPad Stand for their client. Four modifications were requested:

  1. Disability Access
  2. Lockable Clamshell for Galaxy Tab 3 Tablet
  3. Tilt
  4. Secure Electrical Box

See the short video to see the final result. It’s amazing what happens when you are receptive to customization. For more information about this project, contact Bob Beuhl at Classic.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or



The 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Trade Show Graphics

November 6th, 2013 5 COMMENTS


You decided on your new trade show display . . . but you’re not done yet. Now, it’s time to design the graphics. Every day we see completed graphics, many of which we feature in Past 5 Days. Some amaze us. Others not so much. You want AMAZING!. Below are 10 tips to consider when designing your next trade show graphics.

1. Look Up. Think about what elements you want seen either 6 ft. away or across the show floor. Avoid putting important elements at floor level. Higher elements will draw your customer’s attention. Those should be the ones you emphasize.

2. Hire a Graphic Designer Who Understands Trade Show Graphic Design. Most don’t. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on a new display only to use lackluster, unprofessional graphics. It’s the equivalent of working out to build a 6 pack and then wearing a muumuu. A professional graphic designer will know how to source quality files, format them, design your graphics, and hit your deadline.

If you don’t know what resolution, PMS color, vector art and bleed are, trust me, you don’t want to be responsible for file preparation. Hire someone who knows what they’re doing. The graphics are as important as your physical display, if not more important, and they can make or break your display presentation.

3. Your Display isn’t a Paper Brochure. This is the single biggest mistake most exhibitors make. You want your messaging to be clear, concise, and to the point. Leave the details for the printed or electronic collateral. No one is going to read text heavy graphics so keep it simple and impactful. Get the help of a copywriter if you can. Avoid clichés and tired expressions like “innovative” and “unique.” Get to the root of the problem and state your solution. Strong messaging that can be digested in 15 seconds or less will make your display MUCH MORE effective.

4. Image Quality Counts. Photos should be high resolution or vector, especially for your logo. Always have native, clean artwork for projects. This is critical! Spend the extra money to get good quality stock photography. It’s not that expensive and can make a HUGE difference in your booth. This isn’t a billboard — people will be walking up and even touching your graphics. Nothing makes a graphic designer cringe more than being handed a business card and asked to pull a logo from it. If you worked with a designer to create an identity for your company, ask them for the native files. You may not be able to open them, but that doesn’t mean your designer won’t be able to. This is why you hired a professional in the first place, remember?

5. The Devil is in the Details. View your graphics rendered on the display. Sometimes elements of the physical booth really have an affect on the flow of your graphics. You won’t know until you see them so make sure that you view them before you print them. Be sure that you know where accessories like shelves and monitors are placed. Exact measurements are critical. Too many times the graphics arrive and they look amazing, vibrant, and perfect . . .  until you realize that the monitor cuts off half of your logo. Seeing the graphics rendered will help prevent mistakes and be worth the added time.

6. Create a Flow. Sometimes clients have a million ideas in all different directions. Just because your display has four different graphic surfaces that doesn’t mean that you should treat them as such. Make sure your graphics tell a coherent story. If your client wants each of their four products featured, one on each panel, that’s fine. Find a way to tie them together. Make sure that the color scheme and design as well as your copy works together. Don’t re-invent the wheel with each panel. You want the overall design to work together — not confuse.

7. Color is Your Friend . . . or Your Enemy. Reference specific Pantone swatches when color matching is critical. This goes back to working with a professional when possible. Trade shows are notorious for being tight turn projects. No one wants to have graphics shipped directly to the show only to find out that the nice mustard yellow they were expecting printed peach or pea green.

8. Don’t Font It Up. One or two fonts is enough. I promise. Three fonts is pushing it. Any more than that and you’ve got an identity crisis on your hands. Legibility is key with any graphic design but especially graphics that are being viewed from a distance. Look for clean, easy-to-read type and then if you want a little flare, add an accent font that is more unique, but don’t over use it. And please, I beg of you, don’t use a cursive or handwriting font in all caps. Just don’t. As a side note, avoid any fonts with names like Giddy-up.

9. Scale is Everything. You have the opportunity to create graphics of a larger than life magnitude. Seize the day! Go big or go home. Don’t waste your time designing 20 foot graphics that are only meant to be viewed from two feet away. Again, let them use your collateral for details and smaller views of things. Think about what you want people to see from three aisles over. Show them something that makes them want to visit you.

10. Cut Your Losses. If your client wants to do something really dumb and you’ve tactfully advised them why they shouldn’t, then let them do it. They’ll learn. They can only smack their thumb so many times with a hammer before they eventually discover how to hit the nail. 😉

Need assistance with your trade show graphics? Let us know. Share your tips for AMAZING trade show graphics in the Comments section.

Glenna Martin
Graphic Design Manager


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or


EVOLVE! – EDPA ACCESS 2013 at Marco Island, FL: Word on the Street — October 28th thru November 1st

November 2nd, 2013 COMMENTS

EVOLVE! With Your Industry Peers at EDPA ACCESS 2013

There are only four short weeks until Thanksgiving. Can you believe it? Well, as soon as you drop your fork from Grandma’s apple pie and Aunt Susie’s overcooked yams, I hope you head to Marco Island. It’s time to join me for the 59th Annual EDPA ACCESS, the Exhibit Industry’s premiere thought leadership event on Dec. 4-6.

Better Yet — come as our guest and receive a $100 discount on your registration (code: Classic evip).

Here is the full agenda to wet your appetite.

Please don’t miss this opportunity to share ideas and network with your peers. I Hope I see you at EDPA ACCESS for three days of learning, networking, and growth.

Have a great weekend.