Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘EuroShop’

29,363 Miles in 93 Days

May 17th, 2014 COMMENTS
Katina Rigall, Designer

Katina Rigall, Designer

As of today, May 18, I have flown almost 30K miles in the last three months! This is definitely a personal record, and I am pretty sure I have “time zone whiplash.” I goggled it and no results, so apparently I’m the first one to coin that term.

I enjoy creating new concepts! It’s what I live for to be honest. All the trips I’ve taken as a representative of Classic Exhibits in 2014 have reinforced that passion:  from Dusseldorf for EuroShop in February, to Vegas for EXHIBITOR in March, and now NYC for the FIT Exhibition Design thesis presentations.

Can we talk about EuroShop for a second? How inspiring were the shapes, patterns, and designs that we saw there! It was amazing to see it in person, and I hope the pics I posted to our blog gave you the feeling you were walking the show halls right next to me. Several of you mentioned you felt that way when I saw you at EXHIBITOR, and it was a sincere honor to hear that feedback.

EuroShop Photos and Videos:

EuroShop_Day_4 (81)What stood out to me most from our EuroShop trip was the extreme contrast between the innovative designs at the show, and the Gothic cathedral in Cologne which Mel and I visited on our day off (we climbed all 533 steps to the top). Lest you think I don’t appreciate historical design, let me state for the record that I fell in love with art history so much I actually minored in it in college. I studied abroad multiple times and was lucky to study art and architecture and visit many cathedrals throughout Europe, and they are truly works of functional and beautiful art. From there I could have easily followed a career in teaching, curating, or even designing museum exhibitions…and really enjoyed it. But I’m so glad I did not go down that road, because what I do as an Exhibit Designer is focused on the future not the past. It’s about pushing limits, creating new trends, coming up with crazy ideas that might not have been possible to construct in the past, and using new technologies to make them a physical reality!

We’re so privileged that you, our distributors, put confidence in our Classic Design Department to help your clients push their booth spaces to ever advancing levels of design innovation. Mark my words, someday design students will have required reading about the important contributions of exhibit designers to the advancement of design as a whole!

Fashion Institute of Technology

Speaking of design studies, on Friday May 16, I was a guest judge for the Capstone event at my alma mater, FIT in New York City. It’s the only master’s degree program specifically for Exhibition Design. Capstone is a great event, very well attended each year by leaders in our industry, where the current crop of students present their thesis projects in preparation to graduate and join us in the working world. The program has come a long way since I graduated in 2007, and it’s very much because of the amazing director Brenda Cowan. I could write a whole blog about what her mentoring has meant to me.

The student work was worth the trip across country! I’m so amazed at the level of creativity, the conceptualizing ability of the students. Exhibition design is so interdisciplinary, involving graphic/industrial/interior design, in addition to all the research and planning that go into a project, AND the final presentation is a work of art itself! It brought me back to the days of two hours of sleep each night for weeks on end. It’s an intense program, but these students can be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

Congratulations to each one. Being an exhibit designer is something to be excited about. And not only that, it’s important work. We can look forward to many good things from these newly minted exhibit designers!

Katina Rigall


Why I Attend Trade Shows — Love on Aisle #600

May 21st, 2011 8 COMMENTS
Love on Aisle #600 -- Trade Shows and Events

Love on Aisle #600 -- Trade Shows and Events

Shame. Shame, Shame. Get your mind out of the gutter. This is neither a steamy romance nor an even steamier fantasy. This is about the love of trade shows and why you, me, or anyone else attends them.

Over the years, I’ve read more articles than I’d care to admit about why trade shows are important, why exhibit marketing is effective, and why we MUST attend them. They make sense, in the same way that taking vitamins makes sense. On some level you know it can’t hurt and it’s good for you, even if you can’t always measure the results. I could give you the typical sales and marketing reasons to attend, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll share nine reasons why I attend trade shows. It may not be as informative, but it will be a lot more interesting.

Reason #1: I have to. I work for a trade show exhibit designer and manufacturer. Even worse, I co-manage the business so I can’t even pretend to hate trade shows, even if I did. Which I don’t. (Just in case my boss reads this, let me repeat, “I enjoy attending trade shows!”)

Reason #2: I get to see family, friends, and acquaintances. That’s a big deal to me. Until about two years ago, my brother lived in Las Vegas. Attending a trade show in Vegas was an excuse to see my brother. When TS2 was in Philadelphia, I had dinner with my old college roommate. Mostly, I get to see colleagues and industry suppliers whom I’ve known for years. Since I don’t travel quite as much as I used to, the shows are an excuse to chat about business and politics, to have a drink or two, and to gossip, learn, and enjoy.

Red vs. Blue

Reason #3: Competitors. They are there, just like you, with the latest and greatest. Even if you don’t get to see all the whiz-bang cool stuff, you get a sense of what direction they are headed. Are they moving upstream? Downstream? Are they investing in R&D? Who’s hanging out in their booth this year? Who’s not? I never understand why companies forbid their employees from chatting with competitors. Obviously, you have to be smart about what you do or do not share, but from my experience, most competitors are friendly, and the stories, observations, and lies you share are at worse harmless and at best enlightening. And to those not so friendly competitors . . . your paranoia will shorten your life by about 10 years.

Reason #4: I love walking the show floor because there are so many folks with encyclopedic knowledge about an industry. I attended my first trade show in 1994, about a month after starting as the marketing director for an exhibit manufacturer. The owner, a man who knew everyone at the show, introduced me to what seemed like hundreds of people. As we walked the show, he shared his knowledge about the industry, the history of the various companies, and the benefits and features of the products. What I learned by walking the show, both on my own and with him, compressed my learning curve by a good year. I could have never gotten the same information without attending the show.

Reason #5: Ink pens. My wife is a writer. She loves pens, all kinds of pens, but mostly fat pens. I score major points whenever I bring home 3-4 cheap trade show pens, especially if they have some kind of gimmick (and are fat).

Reason #6: Trade shows are an amazing buffet of new ideas. How can you not be impressed by the collective creativity? Whether it’s EuroShop in Germany or the local Business-to-Business show by the Chamber, I always discover new products, services, presentations, trinkets, and people. Even if I’m not looking for something specific, I usually find something worth pursuing after the show that will benefit our business or our customers. Would a virtual trade show offer the same experience? Perhaps, but I doubt it.

Reason #7: Customers. Trade shows are a lot like annual employee performance reviews. There should be no surprises, unless they’re positive. If you dread attending your annual industry trade show because of customer complaints, then your company is in serious trouble. I attend for just the opposite reason. Like Reason #2, I really enjoy meeting customers, talking about their businesses, learning about the challenges in their markets, and hearing about their lives. I know it’s a cliché, but shaking someone’s hand and looking them in the eye changes everything. Sure there may be a negative here and there, but it’s mostly all positive. Over the years, I can only count a few times, working with various companies, that I haven’t left a show feeling upbeat.

What? No Sewing Kit!

Reason #8: Hotel/Motel Toiletries. Actually, I don’t really care about the shampoo or the conditioner, but I hoard the little soaps. I am cheap, but that’s not the reason. I can’t stand the liquid soap at the gym where I am a member, and over the years I’ve probably left over a 100 bars of soap at the gym because I’m absent-minded. The mini-motel soaps are perfect. I don’t care if I leave them, and I don’t care about the brand.

Reason #9: Potential Customers. Next to chatting with existing customers, potential customers are my favorite reason to participate in trade shows. You get to see your company and your booth through their eyes. Is your product and service relevant to them? What interests them? What have they seen at the show that appeals to them? What does the future hold for them? For you? Far too many exhibitors are simply carnival barkers with more teeth and less visible tattoos. They want to close the sale, not create a relationship. That’s unfortunate because no one wants to be assaulted at a show. “Listen and Learn” is my mantra at every show.

Reason #10: For purely selfish reasons, I need a #10 to complete the list. Please take a moment and share your reason for attending/participating in trade shows. Why do you love to stroll down Aisle #600?

— Mel White

Additional Blog Entries:
10 Quick Tips for Any Trade Show Novice
Trade Shows as First Dates

Shooting from the Hip — 5.10 (My Favorites)

May 27th, 2010 1 COMMENT

Shooting from the Hip (trade show tips)

Shooting from the Hip by Reid Sherwood

Dining and Drink Favorites

Writing has never been my strongest point. Talking may be another story. But when Mel asked me to write this blog every week, I decided to be a team player and go along with it. So, in an effort to be different, I was asked to write about whatever was on my mind.

This week is moving week for the Sherwood family — out of the lake cottage that was so good to us after the 2009 fire and into a house with some acreage. I like the idea of space and room again.

This week’s posting is going to be a bit Seinfeld-like. After 11 years of traveling almost 30 weeks a year, I am officially qualified to list some of my favorites. And the “why’s.”

For the sake of brevity, let’s keep this about food and drink. That way we have hotels, cities, and all the other travel stuff for another blog.

My Faves:

Best SteakManny’s Steakhouse in Minneapolis. There are a lot of great ones. NONE are any better than this one. Literally the filet mignon is incredible. Always on the list of the Top 10 steakhouses — this is worth the flight.

Best Martini Red Square in the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas — on the ice bar using only premium ZRY vodka with a twist of lemon. So cold . . . so refreshing.

Best Appetizer Bistro Romano Philly – Smoked mozzarella and tomato on garlic toast. Fantastic!

Overall Meal Indebleu in Washington, DC. It is where India and France collide. The strangest combinations of food I have ever had. They were closed for remodeling last time I was in town and still are according to their website. It was cool enough that I took Harold Mintz there. And he lived in DC at the time.

Best Beer – I am deferring to Kevin on this because the last beer I drank from top to bottom was during the Carter Administration. But after EuroShop 2008, it has to be Frankenheim Alt in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Best ViewLas Brisas in Laguna Beach, CA. Sitting on the deck staring at the ocean 50 feet away is just something that has to be seen.

Best DiveSpondivits Steak and Seafood in Atlanta. You feel like you are in a bar somewhere on the Florida Alabama coastline. Great sandwiches, great service, and always a guy playing Jimmy Buffett songs.

Best Bar – There are so many to choose from, but I have always been partial to Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West. It was Hemingway’s favorite, as well as Jimmy Buffett, Ray Montague and mine. 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

Just a Great PlaceOlive or Twist in Pittsburgh, PA. Not only does it have a killer martini, its also about the coolest place I have ever dined or drank.

Best Exhibit Enough said.

Until next week . . .

–Reid Sherwood