Trade Show TalesBlog

The Best Trade Show Sales Advice You’ll Receive This Year

January 9th, 2015 1 COMMENT

IAEE_1Can It Get Any More Ridiculous

By Tom Werner, OTM Furniture

I recently returned from the NBAA Show in Orlando. NBAA is a business aviation show with about 1800 exhibitors.

I’ve attend this show every year since 2006 to manage the installation of my client’s exhibit. Part of my service includes ordering show services, carpet, and furniture. The furniture has ALWAYS been a challenge, namely finding something that fits their needs at an affordable price that didn’t look worn and abused. And because the furniture prices are listed in the exhibitor kit, I can’t mark it up much, if any.

Over the years, I’ve been able to observe trends and developments with furniture, and more specifically, the amount being used, how it’s being used, and the cost of renting it.

Amount Used

In the beginning, there wasn’t much furniture in the booths, and I had to search for it. This isn’t surprising since one of the golden rules of booth staff training has always been “Don’t sit in the booth space!” Over the years, I started to see more and more of it. In 2014, there was WAY MORE than I could ever photograph, and this year virtually every exhibitor had furniture.

Black_OTX_3_Graphics_largerHow It’s Being Used

In addition to the standard black tables and chairs, two other types of furniture have become popular: bar height table and chair sets and lounge furniture.

Honestly, it makes sense for most companies. One of the objectives of trade shows is to build relationship with clients and prospective customers. Bar height tables and chairs allow for informal meetings in limited floor space, while lounge furniture is a great way for your visitors to relax and spend more time in your booth.

The Cost of Renting

This year, my client asked me what they spent on the conference room tables and chairs. So, I went back and looked at the numbers. I knew the cost had increased, but I had no idea how much. It was significant (numbers below).

Because of this experience and others like it, I developed On The Move Furniture with Classic Exhibits, a line specifically for trade shows and events. It includes the upscale NEO line and the new, affordable Express series. This high-quality portable and brandable furniture is logistically friendly, attractive, and cost-effective. See the OTM Furniture videos.

My client, Raisbeck Engineering / NBAA, rented two 6 ft. conference tables and 12 chairs from Freeman.

6 ft. Table (Luna Conference Table)

  • 2012 = $639 ea. x 2 = $1278
  • 2013 = $718 ea. x 2 = $1436

Chairs (Diplomat)

  • 2012 = $225 ea. x 12 = $2700
  • 2013 = $305 ea. x 12 = $3660

Which Means…

  • 2012 rental cost = $3,978
  • 2013 rental cost = $5,096
  • 21.9% increase

Still not convinced? Mel White from Classic Exhibits recently returned from the AIEE Expo Expo Show in Los Angles. Below are photos he took. Nearly 80% of the booths had rental furniture.


I would love to hear your experiences of dealing with furniture at trade shows and events. You can reach me at

Tom Werner
On the Move Furniture (OTM)


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One Response to “The Best Trade Show Sales Advice You’ll Receive This Year”

  1. Tom, I agree a tall cocktail round and 3 or 4 stools in a booth provide a great place to invite a customer to sit for a moment and discuss your new widget or service. But the stool itself offers another advantage. Though your dogs may be barking in the last hours of the day, if you’re sitting in a normal chair or lounging on a sofa, and don’t rise to greet a guest or attendee, it’s considered rude. However, we’re all so accustomed to panel discussions where the experts debate from a sitting position on stools, it’s no longer considered rude not to rise completely before addressing visitors entering your exhibit. I highly recommend it. But PLEASE don’t clutter the table with food, samples, literature, and misc junk. Keep your table clear and ready to write orders or take notes

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