Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for July, 2018

7 Tips to Working with an Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)

July 31st, 2018 1 COMMENT


Guest Post by Rick Bellerjeau, Momentum Management

I am often asked, “Why use a Trade Show Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)?” Perhaps we should start with some simple definitions. 

General Contractor (GC) vs Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC)

The official show contractor is typically known as the “General Contractor.” Exhibitor Appointed Contractors, on the other hand, are many of the professionals who service the exhibitor community on the show floor prior to, during, and after the show, such as the floral companies, audio-visual providers, rental furniture companies, labor contractors, and photographers. If a service provider is not named in the show kit by the General Contractor, then the service provider is considered an EAC (Exhibitor Appointed Contractor).

To work with an EAC, the exhibitor (or their exhibit house) must complete forms for the General Contractor or show organizer identifying the EAC. This informs the General Contractor that the EAC will be on the show floor during installation and dismantle. If that wasn’t confusing enough, sometimes a general contractor, like GES, may be EAC when they are not the general contractor. Admittedly, it can be confusing, but the tips below will clear up some of the confusion. 

For our discussion, let’s focus on companies that set up and take down the exhibits for exhibit houses and exhibitors across the country. These labor service providers offer the expertise necessary to get shows up on time and on budget. While these providers are typically known as installation and dismantle companies or “I&D” companies, I&D doesn’t fully describe what they do for exhibitors. For anyone who’s ever had issues on the show floor, you know that the EAC’s “labor services” far exceed installation and dismantle. 

Exhibitors have several options when assembling their exhibit on the show floor, depending on the city and venue. Some choose to assemble the exhibits themselves. Others hire the general contractor to do the work. A better option for many exhibitors is an independent EAC. But how do you choose the right one? Here are 7 Tips to Working with an Independent EAC… particularly for exhibit houses.

1. Don’t underestimate the scale necessary to stage a show

Every day, thousands of people work to ensure that “the show goes on without a hitch.” All are dedicated to making the experience a positive one for everyone involved. 

Someone has to make sure that you and your exhibit do not get lost in the sea of people scrambling to get the show up and down. Who is responsible for what? The show contractor or general contractor has a staggering number of responsibilities. Including you. But how do you get answers and break through all the noise if you don’t know the terrain? You need an advocate. At large shows, you will often find it difficult to get your issues heard above the thunder and chaos. Seeking help from companies who are designed to cater to you and your clients’ show experience is why I&D, or labor services companies, exist. It’s about focusing on what you need done now and efficiently. 

EAC (Exhibit Appointed Contractors) -- Labor Services

2. Look around the city before making your decision

In major trade show cities, such as Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando and New York, you will NOT be the only show in town in most cases. This applies to the week you’re headed into the city as well as the one before and after your show ends. It’s about supply and demand. 

The more shows the greater the demand for the services necessary to manage the show, especially by the General Contractor. All that translates into the more demand on the people who put shows into the city for a living. And the need for additional professional providers.

This challenge happens in every city hosting a trade show. For the exhibit house and exhibitor, consider what company can fulfill your needs most effectively when the heat is on. Who is going to go the extra mile? 

3. Remember what you’re buying

Exhibit Houses offer their clients an amazing array of products and services to exhibitors to ensure their trade show marketing programs are successful. The culmination of these services spells one word — experience. They are assuring their clients that their trade show experience will be not be just OK or good, but GREAT. Smart exhibit houses rely on partnerships that help them deliver a great experience for their clients, period. The cost of retaining or finding a new client is simply too high. Knowing your suppliers and having a long-term relationship with them means you understand one another and are committed to the same goals for your clients. 

4. Who loves you?

What does your EAC partner do to earn your business? What makes them capable of delivering their share of an amazing show experience”? Can they extend your business and help you keep your promises? Your partner ought to be able to articulate how they do that for you.

You want an EAC that can lift the weight of labor services “fully” off your shoulders allowing you to focus on your core business. Finding a partner who truly knows you and your customer’s expectations is key to scaling your business. They should have the reach and scale so you’re not constantly seeking a new solution in every city. 

Momentum Management LaborServices

5. Size and scale matters

There are many labor service companies to choose from in every city. And while there are many local labor provides, there are very few national providers. Opening a local EAC labor services company is not difficult. With a few signatures, perhaps a check or two, and a trip to The Home Depot, one can show up on the show floor with newly minted matching shirts open for business. Small EAC labor providers can take care of those first few clients often with a little help from the union work force. But scale matters in our business. Problems arise when the size of the show, or shows surrounding the city, scale past their ability to deliver. 

It’s all about supply and demand. The talent on the trade show floor in terms of craftsmanship is extraordinary. Couple that with the pace and stamina that these professionals must possess is truly amazing. If we assume there are the “best guys” in a city, any city, we have to assume there are also the worst. Professional EACs with a solid history and consistent work attract the best and most talent laborers. 

We also have to assume, often because there is so much going on in a large trade show city, or there is a city where shows seldom happen, the labor is going to get “tight.” Is the EAC willing to support the city with additional support from other markets? This can only happen in cities where you have union relationships that allow this to happen of course, but this discussion should happen with your EAC.

6. What to look for with your EAC labor services partner

What is their “go-to market” strategy? Who makes up the bulk of their customer base? Are they working with everyone, or do they have a targeted segment of the industry? Whether they’re selling to exhibit houses or the exhibitors, the types of service requirements differ greatly. The strategy will drive where employees focus their attention and loyalties reside for any company. For exhibit houses, aligning with EAC whose primary client base is exhibit houses will make the job easier. For exhibitors, seek companies that have built their expertise servicing your needs directly. EAC’s that juggle these two strategies send a mixed message and that mixed message can often lead to conflict.

What is the EAC’s core business? Look to companies that aren’t in other businesses or offer products or services unrelated to the offering you’re seeking. A “pure play” labor service provider gets up every morning looking to get better at servicing their market segment with better labor services. Not only do they not get distracted, they also are constantly making improvements to their core business. 

Trade Show Labor Services, Exhibit Appointed Contractors 

7. Planning for success requires a time investment

Your labor partner needs to think with you long before the show ever opens. A successful EAC labor service provider encourages you to communicate early and often. Agreeing on decisions like, “The brochures need to be stored in closet #2 in the back left-hand corner” with your partner are vital. It may be the difference between a great experience and one that missed the mark. Your partner ought to dig into the weeds with you to make sure the nuggets that make up a “great show experience” for your client shine. Make sure they have a process for uncovering those nuggets with you and for you as well.

Oops, it’s show time. Enjoy it!

Rick Bellerjeau, General Manager
Momentum Management
http://www.momentummgt.com

Stephanie L’Herault, Designer for Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits

July 27th, 2018 COMMENTS

Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits welcomes Stephanie L’Herault to the Eco Design team. Stephanie works directly with Eco Distributors on exhibit and environment design projects and then with internal project managers, detailers, and production specialists to turn those 3D concepts into reality. We asked her to share a short bio about her personal life and professional background.

“I have lived in Grand Rapids all my life and am now married to my best friend John. My husband is a systems administrator, who loves video games and is always happy to talk about ideas that could change the world. We both love animals and have a ferret (Tom Tom), a cat (Mara) and a new puppy (Eva). We spend our time visiting family and friends or just getting outside.

I graduated from the Kendall College of Art and Design, which is part of Ferris State University in Grand Rapids. Over the years, I have been fortunate to work on many creative exhibit projects with local distributors and through my own exhibit company.    

Some of my favorite things to do are research, building projects, and more than anything finding innovative solutions and ideas to improve systems or ways of living. So, it’s no surprise I went to school for Industrial Design. In my career, I have found ways to make laundry and household chores more efficient through home storage systems, worked on the safety, efficiency and fun of ropes courses, and improved the positioning and effectiveness of chiropractic equipment.

Now I am excited to be working with trade show booths once again. Trade show design is one of my favorites with all the potential it offers. To be efficient and effective. To be exciting and impact the way you feel about a brand or product. To consistently be new, and for many other reasons, I am happy to be joining the Eco team. 

I look forward to meeting everyone and bringing your projects to fruition.” 

You can contact Stephanie at stephanie@ecosystemsdisplays.com or 616-726-6267 (direct) or 866-463-2611 x-314. 

***********************

Since 2007, Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits Inc. has been the leader of contemporary, design-driven green displays. Over the years, we’ve won many industry awards for our revolutionary designs and eco-friendly construction, including Buyers Choice and Best of the Best Awards at exhibit industry trade shows.

 

How to Make Your Itsy-Bitsy Company Look Like a Really BIG Company

July 26th, 2018 COMMENTS

TIm Patterson -- TradeshowGuy

Right Sizing Your Company

Let’s say you are a small company. Whatever that means. But you want to appear bigger because bigger is better, right? How do potential customers perceive you when they see your website? What clues do you leave that tell your story and let customers know you are big enough to handle their business, yet still small enough to build a good working relationship?

Why would you want to appear big? Not everyone does. Many entrepreneurs position their company as a boutique business that specializes in working with a very specific type of client.

Perhaps the question isn’t that you should look bigger, but to ensure the right companies find you. Not so long ago, prospective clients would judge you based on size of your brick-and-mortar store and zip code. Then they’d gauge your ability to handle their needs. Sometimes a small neighborhood hardware store with personal service will serve a customer better than a big box store.

Looking Bigger and Attracting Crowds

Perception is everything, especially in the beginning. I’m guessing that 98% of your potential client’s first interaction will be online, even if they’ve gotten a referral. They type in a search term in their browser, look through the first 5 or 6 results, click one, and begin eyeing your website. All assuming you appeared in those search results. Or if they have your company’s name, they’ll search directly for you.

When I first started my website many years ago, I chose not to go the pay-per-click route. Instead, I wanted to share my tradeshow knowledge and the knowledge of others online. Yes, it takes more time, but the results won’t disappear if I don’t feed the PPC meter.

Crowds at a Trade Show

Blogging

One way to appear bigger – to show that you have a larger reach than bigger companies – is to blog. And to do it consistently. Hundreds of people come to my blog, TradeshowGuy Blog, through random searches. The most popular might surprise you. For instance, one of the most-viewed this year is a post on how a SWOT Analysis applies to tradeshows. Yes, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A good 50% are folks outside the USA. Interesting.

The next most popular post is Skills a Tradeshow Manager Needs. Following that is one on how to replace paper at tradeshows using digital technology (a guest post from 2015). Followed by How to Build a Tradeshow-specific Landing Page. Notice anything unique. All are geared to teach specific skills.

With over 700 posts in the past 9+ years, the search engines have archived them all, so random tradeshow-related searches will find them.

Many years ago, I made a commitment to post regularly on a variety of industry topics. The goal was consistency. Write one or two a week and see if it leads to more opportunities. And, it did.

Vlogging/Podcasts

TradeshowGuy Mnnday Morning CoffeeEach week, I publish the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee vlog/podcast. While individual podcasts aren’t in the Top Ten, the category is in the Top Five most-viewed. Which means that a specific podcast might not get a lot of views, but people are searching to see what’s been posted recently. Together that tells me three things:  the podcast is gaining traction, the time investment is worth it, and each interview builds relationships with interviewees, who are mostly in the tradeshow industry.

Someone once asked me, “Does blogging, podcasting, publishing a weekly newsletter, posting videos on YouTube channel and spending time on social media actually result in more business?”

In 2016, 66% of our business at TradeshowGuy Exhibits came from people who found me online. In 2017, it was less than ten percent. In 2018, frankly it’s a bit fuzzier. But, when I communicate with potential clients, through cold calling, email, or simply reaching out to folks I know the feedback is always positive when they receive a link to specific post, video, or podcast.  Just experiencing the extent of the posts (video, audio, photographic, lists, etc.) provides me with instant credibility. They realize I’m offering expertise and solutions, not just a product.

YouTube Videos

I’ve had a YouTube channel for almost a decade. In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing other than creating a few how-to videos and tradeshow advice. I didn’t post regularly, and the views were limited. In a sense, that’s still the case, although I create a video version of my podcast and post it as another way to share content.

I believe that creating good content makes the TradeshowGuy Exhibits look bigger, and putting it online makes it easier and more likely for potential customers to find me.  

Trade Show Exhibits

Exhibit Design Search

Frankly, so does Exhibit Design Search (EDS), which is a branded search tool that looks like it’s part of our websites. EDS is the work of our main design and fabrication partner, Classic Exhibits, and we use it all the time. When we send ideas from EDS to potential clients the reaction is often “Wow! I had no idea you could do all of that!” Aligning yourself with a company that offers great tools expands your virtual heft.

We also have a handful of other URLs that are used for various purposes. For example, TradeshowSuccessBook.com is a landing page that offers a free digital download of my first book in exchange for subscribing to my newsletter. TradeshowSuperheroes.com is a book-specific page solely for promoting and sharing information on my second book. TradeshowExhibitBuyersKit.com is a landing page to promote a package of tools for potential exhibit buyers. And TradeshowGuyWebinars.com is a collection of helpful webinars.

Two Things

So, what’s important to me? When I consult with clients and prospects, I want them to know two things:

  1. When you work with TradeshowGuy, you’re always working directly with me or someone with the same expertise. We’re small but with big resources.
  2. Our success is tied to your success. If we make a company’s tradeshow manager look good — by doing a great job, by providing an excellent service, and by designing and fabricating an exhibit that gets noticed on the show floor –we’ve done our job. If we make you look good, we feel good. It’s as simple as that. And if looking big makes us a better, more approachable partner, then that’s a great byproduct.

Tim Patterson (Guest Post)

************************

After 25+ years as a radio on-air personality, Tim Patterson became the TradeshowGuy. He blogs regularly at TradeshowGuyBlog.com and is the host of the weekly vlog/podcast TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. After spending 9 nears as VP of Sales and Marketing at Interpretive Exhibits, Tim is currently owner of TradeshowGuy Exhibits in Salem, Oregon.  His company works with exhibitors to improve their tradeshow marketing presence and bring in more qualified leads. Find him on Twitter at @TradeshowGuy and on LinkedIn @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothypatterson/

40 Things You Do @ Trade Shows (You Would Never Do Anywhere Else)

July 24th, 2018 17 COMMENTS

40 Things at a Trade Show

We are all members of specialized sub-groups, each with its own rules and etiquette. Think quilters, railroad model builders, woodworkers, or even college sports fans. Trade shows are no different whether you are an exhibitor, attendee, or an industry insider. While many behaviors might seem normal to you as a member of the trade show community, others are downright bizarre to those who rarely set foot in a trade show hall.

With the assistance of my colleagues, I’ve compiled a list of 40 Things You Do @ Trade Shows You Would Never Do Anywhere Else. It was actually much longer, but this is a PG-rated blog.

Drinking doesn’t count. We know you drink. You just don’t always start at lunch. And for the sake of discretion (and possible litigation), we’ve ignored trade shows in CO, WA, OR, and now CA. Don’t pretend you don’t know why. 

Feel free to contribute via the comments section. And enjoy!

40 Things You Would Never Do Anywhere Else

  1. With zero guilt, throw trash in the aisle and expect others to clean it up
  2. Spend $8.50 for a 12 oz. bottle of Aquafina
  3. Bribe someone to look the other direction. Brag about it later
  4. Have Accounting panic because you just max-out your credit card on one transaction (drayage perhaps?)
  5. Wear matching polyester clothing 
  6. Steal anything that appears to have a value of less than $10 (candy, hats, pens, mugs…)
  7. Share “steamy” industry gossip with competitors
  8. Chat with 500 strangers in 72 hours
  9. Gush about the double-padded carpet in booth #1108
  10. Buy a gaudy new belt in the casino shop for $165 (after forgetting to pack one) 

Vacuuming at a Trade Show

  1. Party until 3 am with Steve in Accounting, Larry in HR, Melissa in Engineering, and Rebecca in Quality Control
  2. Bum breath mints from strangers
  3. Arrive at work at 11 am. Leave at 3:30 pm
  4. Get agitated when someone walks across the corner of your booth space
  5. Take a Lyft to Lowe’s or Best Buy at 9 am/pm
  6. Pretend you don’t smell that awful face-melting smell
  7. Debate the existential meaning of portable, modular, and custom
  8. Act interested in (insert topic)
  9. Complain about how much it costs to vacuum 400 sq. ft. of carpet. Vow to do something about it
  10. Allow strangers to take your stuff without a receipt for three days and not know where it is, how it’s getting stored, and that you have zero ability to get it back early. Or if it will be returned undamaged

Badge Scanning at a Trade Show

  1. Let someone point a scanning device or smartphone camera in the general vicinity of your chest and crotch. Repeatedly.
  2. Be convinced a 15-minute conversation will lead to $500,000 in new business
  3. Assemble a 3D structure that costs somewhere between a used car and a McMansion… only to disassemble it three days later
  4. Spend 20% of your entire annual marketing budget over five days. Never calculate the ROI
  5. Compare the work ethic in Philadelphia, Boston, NYC, Chicago, Orlando, Anaheim, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to the work ethic in your hometown. Vow to do something about it.
  6. Hang your dress shirt in the bathroom with the shower running for 30 minutes to steam out the wrinkles  
  7. Explain, once again, to your family and friends that it’s a “business trip” and not a vacation
  8. Get visibly excited about the phrase “traffic congestion”
  9. Guard your giveaways like a momma bear (Day #1). Beg show labor to take them in bulk (Day #3)
  10. Sneak off to the bathroom just to find a quiet place to work

Finding a Quiet Spot to Work at a Trade Show

  1. Hide in a storage closet to scarf down a Starbuck’s scone, while dusting your co-workers coats, purses, and briefcases with gooey crumbs
  2. Judge people based solely on their name badge 
  3. Convince your boss that the 300 fishbowl leads are new clients clamoring for your product (and not the iPad giveaway)
  4. Pretend the President’s son is not still drunk. Allow him to talk to potential clients and competitors (I know I said I wouldn’t include drinking but this one was too good to exclude) 
  5. Spend 3 days with 100 of your best friends and not speak or see them again for 362 days
  6. Fly from the Midwest in January to Las Vegas, Orlando, or New Orleans and NEVER leave the hotel/convention center complex
  7. Reintroduce yourself to the same person three times. Act embarrassed 
  8. Toss the sales literature you carefully collected over three days so there’s more room for tschotskes. Pretend it’s for your children 
  9. Be REALLY, REALLY EXCITED to leave Las Vegas or Orlando!
  10. Finally… Wonder (after scanning the room and mumbling quietly to yourself) why the Federal Government hasn’t filed RICO charges against certain segments of the trade show industry. Vow to do something about it. 

That’s it. Please share your “Trade Show Things” below. And thanks for playing along.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

**********************************************

Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. 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 www.classicexhibits.com.

Two Full Buckets of Exhibit Design Search Upgrades

July 20th, 2018 COMMENTS

Exhibit Design Search Updates

Recently, we made multiple upgrades to Exhibit Design Search, which probably isn’t a big surprise. 😉 The upgrades fall into two buckets:

EDS Bucket #1: 

We reorganized the EDS Home Page.

1) Modern Islands & Inlines now has 12 galleries.

It includes ALL inlines and islands, except for the tension fabric pop-ups from Optima (like the X1 and NEXT!). We kept all the Optima (OP) products together (see gallery header #4). 

2)  The ecoSmart line from Eco-Systems Sustainable Displays expanded to three galleries: 

3)  The Price and Display Type drop-down menus include more price ranges and products. 

4)  There’s a new P5D Button (no longer buried in Photos)

5)  EVEN MORE Rental Designs from Classic Rental Solutions

EDS Bucket #2:

Exhibit Design Search UpdatesAdditions to our Strategic Partner Galleries.

1)  Display Supply and Lighting (DS) made extensive changes to their Lighting gallery, including: 

  • Zig Zag LED Tape
  • RGB Modular Strips
  • LEDSTRAND Lights: Magnetic LumiRail System (Rail, Magnetic Light Modules, LUMIRAIL Kit, LUMI Power Supply)
  • LED Stick Lights (High Output and Super High output – Flat, Round and Angled options)
  • “U” Series LED Slim Line Fixture
  • LED Flex Panel Quick Kits
  • LED Pendant Lights
  • LED Ceiling Mount Fixtures
  • LED Wall Sconce Fixtures

 2)  Brumark (BR) added new products and revised existing ones, such as:

  • Image White Flex Floor
  • Chilewich Tiles with BioFelt in Basketweave, Lounge, and Rib Weave
  • NextGen Carpeting

3)  The CORT (CT) Furniture Rental Galleries are REVISED with a larger assortment and the latest designs. Definitely worth reviewing the changes. 

That’s it. Well…. for this week.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

**********************************************

Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. 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 www.classicexhibits.com.