Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘design’

NEW Exhibit Design Search — 3 Minute Tutorial

October 18th, 2012 1 COMMENT

Exhibit Design Search, the world’s largest trade show design database, has been updated. The updates include a streamline home page, simplified search options, and a reformatted Design Detail page. See all the changes and how best to navigate through EDS in this brief tutorial. You’ll be impressed by the changes . . . we promise you.

Mel White from Classic Exhibits guides you through the changes in this 3 minute 44 second video.


For more information about Exhibit Design Search, please contact Mel White, Jen LaBruzza, Reid Sherwood, or Kevin Carty at Classic Exhibits. As always, we welcome your suggestions about EDS and are delighted to conduct “tips and tricks” webinars on how to get the most from EDS with your clients. Just let us know.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). 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.

Did You Miss Out? SKU & You Webinars are Online

June 30th, 2012 COMMENTS

Three Great Webinars From Classic Exhibits

A few weeks ago, Classic Exhibits hosted three educational webinars about silicone edge graphics (SEG), hybrid exhibits, and trade show island designs. The response was extremely positive. For those who missed these webinars, here’s your chance to experience them via the magic of YouTube and GoToWebinar. We hope you enjoy, and we welcome your comments.

classic modul website designer tips hybrid SEG CE website CE website

The Dirtiest Word in the RFP Process: Word on the Street — April 30th thru May 4th

May 6th, 2012 6 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Earmuffs Kids . . .

“BUDGET!” There I said it! The dirty word that none of us like to discuss when starting a new design. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Let me be so cavalier as to suggest that we rip the band-aid off when we first start the design process. Don’t get me wrong. Make sure you introduce yourself and show the client around your place or let them give you a tour of theirs . . . whichever applies. But then cut to the chase.

Now I know what you’re saying, “But Kevin, you don’t live in our world. You are not the one in front of the end-users everyday. You are not the one who always gets the 1/2 honest answer or the unrealistic requests.” I agree. I am not. But I am on many of the initial calls as your manufacturer representative for the project. So I get it! Especially the frustration of the answer to the dreaded question that goes something like this, “Well, we are not really sure. We know we want an open, airy, and fresh look that can house all our product presentations, four staff members, and space for a live presenter. Most importantly, we want to not look like anyone else and to really standout.”

Ouch! Ahhhh!

This is usually when I make a comment that makes the room go silent. Something like, “Well, we can make exactly what you want between $50k-$125k. It just depends on how much you want to standout and exactly how ‘fresh’ of a look you are looking for.” This usually gets a response of . . . “Oh, that seems like a big spread in dollars for the same footprint.”

Point being, you can go out and buy a 4-door sedan tomorrow and do the same thing. You can spend $19,999 or you can spend $59,999 for what appears on the outside to be a car that is the exact same dimension. But once you lift the hood and/or open the doors, you will see the differences. Both cars may suit your base purposes just fine, but one certainly comes with more options and accessories. And one will make your more noticeable.

In these situations, what our PM’s, designers, or anyone else at Classic working with the client does is take you and your client to Exhibit Design Search — preferably yours if you have a branded version or ours if you do not. Then we ask the client to “drive the models,” and check the boxes that fit them — size of exhibit, type of exhibit, and price range. In doing so, you are essentially getting the client to self select and reveal their budget range.

Now to be fair, you are often working with clients who are new to trade shows displays. They don’t have a point of reference. To them, they see a pop up display and assume it costs $199 with graphics. The sticker shock can be jarring, and they may not see the distinction between two banner stands and a portable counter and a custom hybrid. Why does one cost $10,000 more than another?

Now, I don’t pretend to think this always works or that it fits all scenarios, but at the end of the day, it gives us the best chance at being successful. We have to know their realistic budget — are they a Kia or a Mercedes customer. Is the car a means of transportation or is it a refection of their personality? Do they want it to last two years or ten years? Does it make more sense to lease or rent?

Design and detailing can solve a lot of the other issues once we know that.

Be well!

–Kevin Carty

Word on the Street — September 26th thru October 1st

October 3rd, 2010 COMMENTS
Why we participate in the TS2 Show

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Survey Results and Responses — Part 2 of 2

Once again, thank you for participating in our recent survey. This week, I’d like to share some of the numbers from the survey in addition to answering many of your comments and questions.

Quantitative Data

“How would you rate the response time from Classic Exhibits (compared to competitors)?”

Much Faster 16.0%
Somewhat Faster 33.3%
Comparable 35.6%

“How would you rate the overall customer service from Classic Exhibits (compared to competitors)?”

Much Faster 13.7%
Somewhat Faster 43.6%
Comparable 34.4%

If we weren’t Classic, we would view these numbers as positive since you rated us 85% and 91% Faster or Comparable to our competitors. But given our history of consistently responding faster than our competitors, the 35% Comparable numbers are troubling. I’ll respond specifically to this a little later in the blog since we received a comment on this topic.

“How often do you visit the Classic Exhibits website?”

Several times a week 56.3%
Once a month 28.7%
Once a year 1.1%

These numbers are encouraging and gratifying since we’ve devoted considerable time, effort, and money to our website over the past five years. When you visit our website, you told us you use the following features most often:

  1. Exhibit Design Search
  2. Product Pages
  3. Rental Displays
  4. Trade Show Tales Blog
  5. Past 5 Days
  6. Exhibit Specials

On a follow up question, we asked, “Which features of Exhibit Design Search do you use? Check all that apply.” Again, in order, you said:

  1. Photos
  2. Filter and Sort
  3. Design Details
  4. Additional Images
  5. Email Designs
  6. My Gallery
  7. Product Videos (when available)

Finally, in the response to the question, “How would you rate Classic Exhibits on the following?”, you rated us Excellent or Above Average on these (with the corresponding percentage):

  • Ease of Purchase — 77%
  • Manufacturing Flexibility — 76%
  • Setup Instructions — 82%
  • Cases and Packaging — 85%
  • Product Quality — 86%
  • Exhibit Designs — 84%
  • Distributor Communication — 76%
  • Marketing — 82%

Comments and Responses from the Survey

Classic has long been the fastest at getting quotes, orders, and designs turned around as it relates to the industry as a whole. In the past few months this has slipped a little. Why?

Answer — Let me start off by saying that this is not something that we like to hear. However, it is also a reality, and it is by no means the fault of any one PM or Designer. Rather, it is quite simply due to market conditions. We (Classic) do not have as many people working in those departments as we did two years ago. And that is not an excuse, but from a transparency standpoint, we want to be honest with you.

Our PM’s and Designers are doing as many quotes and designs as always, but the orders are smaller than they were 24 months ago. Therefore, you have fewer people trying to do more. Having said that, we need to set more reasonable expectations on turnaround times. Over promising and under delivering is never a good thing. We realize that. And as a management team, we are addressing it.

Can your Design Team and Project Management Team communicate better at the “hand-off” stage? Meaning when a design is sent to Project Management for quoting?

Answer — While this was not an overriding theme in your survey responses, it was mentioned and deserves a response. Communication has been a consistent theme at Classic over the past four years, both internally and externally. Hearing that we are failing with some of our distributors is troublesome. Some of it may be a direct reflection of asking fewer people to do more. I know that occasionally causes people to cut corners to meet existing time expectations. However, when proper communication does not happen, it causes us to go back and forth more often which lengthens the turnaround time. I promise you that we are working on this, and we will get better.

Can you include Distributor News and Updates in Design Monday along with new designs?

Answer — Yes. And to some extent we already do. Several years ago, we discontinued our monthly newsletter because we felt we were inundating you with email broadcasts. Instead, we shifted those routine updates on products, services, and specials to periodic emails, Design Monday (via “Word on the Street”) and postings in the Trade Show Tales Blog. Please let us know if you would like us to resume the monthly newsletter. In the newsletter, we would be very happy to discuss Classic updates as well as information in your world — whether it is new hires, current projects that you wish to share, or other pertinent news as it relates to the industry within your local markets.

Classic needs to do a better job of Customer Appreciation and Acknowledgment.

Answer — Ouch! That really hurts. While I feel like we do a good job of this “on the fly,” for the most part, I do agree that we need to do this more publicly. And more often. Our management team will make this a focus moving forward. You are our lifeblood. No one can deny that, and I am sorry if we have not done a good job of acknowledging that daily, monthly and quarterly.

ClassicMODUL is great. The variety of extrusions and accessories are unmatched. Why do you not promote the variety more in your Classic Exhibits designs and broadcasts?

Answer — At first I thought this comment may have come from Tom Jones, who manages our ClassicMODUL division. 😉 But it didn’t. I spent a lot of time thinking about this. In looking through past Design Mondays and other e-broadcasts that the Classic Exhibits division has sent over the past several months, it is clear that while we use a variety of extrusions and accessories in our broadcasts, we do not always “highlight” them. Recently, we have been promoting the TSP profiles which hold Silicone Edge Graphics, but we do need to do a better job of describing the extrusions in particular designs so that you gain a deeper and better sense of what is available from Classic and ClassicMODUL. Great suggestion. Thanks!

In conclusion, we have work to do and some issues to resolve. Thank you for your feedback, and we sincerely appreciate your constructive criticism.

And thank you for the many, many kudos we received as well in the survey (which we elected not to share). I am not going to lie, hearing that “Classic Rocks!,” that the “Customer Service Team is Wonderful” and that you appreciate coming to work each day knowing that you get to “Work with friends,” makes me not just happy, but exceptionally proud of our team.

Thanks again!

–Kevin Carty

Word on the Street — September 20 thru September 24

September 26th, 2010 COMMENTS
Why we participate in the TS2 Show

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Survey Results and Responses — Part 1 of 2

Our thanks to everyone who participated in the recent Classic Exhibits survey. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. I know surveys can be a nuisance, but the data and the comments you shared will not fall on deaf ears. Much to the contrary. Like surveys of the past, we use this information to keep evolving as a company. So again, thanks!

I’ll share many of your questions and comments over the next two weeks where I’ll answer and/or describe how we plan to address them.

In no particular order . . .

Can I work with one particular Project Manager who gets to know me and how I work as opposed to going through “Projects” and getting  a different person each time?

Answer – Most certainly! It’s always your choice. If you would rather work with one dedicated Project Manager, please let us know, and we will make sure that person handles all your quotes and orders. Really the only potential pitfall is if that PM is overloaded, it may take him or her a bit longer to get back to you. But if that is the case, you can always use someone else for that particular project.

With so much aluminum extrusion out there these days, I would like to see designs that get away from “highlighting” the extrusion so much. I don’t want it to go away, but I would like to minimize how much is actually seen.

Answer – We have heard this from several distributors and have started to readdress many existing designs and transform them into SEGUE kits. SEGUE kits use MODUL TSP profiles that utilize Silicon Edge Graphics (SEG). This offers the best of both worlds — Hybrid Design with less exposed metal. Please do a search in the Visionary Designs gallery for SEGUE kits to see the full assortment.

Training Boot Camp at Classic! I would like to see this happen at the Classic facility. Two days of intensive training.

Answer – Great idea! We do this “one-on-one” or in small groups currently which is effective, but I agree that a larger group provides a different and much needed group learning dynamic. It also ensures you face-to-face time with the Classic team. We will schedule this in 2011.

Personally, I would rather know that you are very busy with quotes and designs and know that it will take longer than normal to get something from Design or Project Management. If it is going to take 5 days, then I would rather know that. Whether I like it or not. But sometimes I am told that I can have something in “standard” time only to have it show up a day or two late.

Answer – To be frank, most of the blame falls directly on Senior Management. We set a very high level of expectation when we meet with Distributors. And at the end of the day, especially in the busy season, I think we set our PM’s up for failure. For example, currently we are slammed with business — Quotes, Designs, Orders, etc. and on some days it is just not possible for a PM or a designer to hold the line when it comes to turnaround times.

Both PM’s and Designers have echoed your comment, especially during the busy season. We will try to better set the proper expectation both internally and externally. After all, we would much rather that you are pleasantly surprised by an early delivery than disappointed by a delay.

Classic needs a better process for allowing Distributors and Designers the ability to access DXF’s and other design files. While you do have an FTP site, the bulk of what is in Exhibit Design Search is not available there.

Answer – While I can’t promise a “quick” fix, I will say that there were several comments regarding this topic. Many of you even said that you didn’t wanted to burden our Design Dept. with routine requests, and with proper access to the files, your in-house design team could do much of the designing especially for kits.

This will be a longer process to bring up to date and fix, but we will meet about how to best address this challenge.

I wish I could opt-out of certain galleries on my Exhibit Design Search site.

Answer – Actually you can (within reason). Please contact Mel when you have time and he can explain the procedure.

Next week, I’ll respond to more questions and comments and review many of the statistical results from the survey.

Be well and have a wonderful week.

–Kevin Carty