What Do Trade Show Displays Have in Common with Restaurants?
Many inexperienced exhibitors struggle with their show display options. And who can blame them? Even for hardcore marketing professionals, trade show exhibits can be puzzling and the prices bewildering. Some displays are hundreds of dollars, other thousands, and larger projects easily climb into six figures.
So how do you choose? Oddly enough, trade show displays are a lot like restaurants. Yes, restaurants. There are fast food displays and fine dining exhibits. Don’t want fast food or fine dining… how about casual dining displays? Where you eat depends on your budget, your taste preferences, and your priorities. So, let’s take a moment to compare the familiar (restaurants) with the unfamiliar (trade show exhibits). Hopefully it will make choosing your next display much easier.
A fast-food restaurant provides the quickest food and service at the cheapest prices. The décor is simple, and the selection limited. Going to Taco Bell, KFC, and of course, McDonald’s is almost always convenient, predictable, and inexpensive but perhaps not always healthy depending on your choices.
Finding fast food displays is just as easy and convenient. There’s no shortage of imported banner stands or tension fabric displays on the web, all available for a click or two. These displays serve a purpose for local events or for small businesses not participating in professional trade shows. They are cost-effective, graphic mediums with limited accessories and an uncertain lifespan. Just like a burger, fries, and COKE, they taste great but should be consumed in moderation. The experience is nearly always transactional, not consultative. Click here for examples.
Unlike fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants are more likely to serve healthier choices and offer more comfortable dining rooms. Customers usually order their food at the counter, although drive -thru and takeout is available. Think Chipotle, Boston Market, or even Panda Express. And while you have choices, those choices don’t include cooking the Kung Pao Chicken, for example, without chicken or peanuts.
Fast Casual Displays are typically purchased from a local exhibit professional, although they can be ordered online. These displays offer more accessory options such as shelves, monitor mounts, lightboxes, etc. There’s usually a conversation or consultation between the buyer and seller about their specific trade show product or marketing needs. Packaging is better. Quality is better. And while they are often based on pre-configured “kits,” those kits can be re-configured within limits. Click here for examples.
Casual dining restaurants offer a wider menu selection, table service, and a family friendly environment. Servers/waiters offer advice, take orders, and serve food. The prices are higher than at fast casual but more affordable than fine dining restaurants. Some are chains like Applebee’s or Cheesecake Factory but also include local establishments with either highly specialized menus or a broad range of cuisine.
Most corporate exhibitors who participate in industry-specific trade shows fit into this category. They work with local or regional exhibit designer/builders to design a system solution or a customized exhibit. As exhibitors, they want an exhibit that reinforces their brand, presents a professional appearance, and adapts to their trade show marketing program without breaking their budget. More often than not, they are receptive to custom rental solutions if the design offers more flexibility and visual impact, but at a cost lower than purchasing an exhibit. They appreciate selection, value, service, and welcome guidance from a knowledgeable exhibit marketing professional. The experience is almost always consultative if the exhibitor doesn’t have an extensive exhibit marketing program. Click here for examples.
Fine-dining restaurants come with the most elaborate menus and expensive prices. Owners of fine-dining restaurants want to present an atmosphere of elegance and grace. They employ chefs who attended culinary schools and possess many years of experience.
Fine Dining exhibits, like fine dining restaurants, are equal parts atmosphere, presentation, quality, and experience. They are almost always memorable, and their size and creativity can be a magnet for attendees throughout the show hall. Most are pure custom, both in design and construction, although subtle and effective modular construction has become more common.
These exhibits are more likely to include LED Video Walls or A/R. We often associate Fine Dining Exhibits with larger island exhibits or double-deck structures, but inlines (like 10 x 20 or larger) can project the same elegance and upscale appearance. It’s possible to achieve this level of sophistication without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars but it requires the right exhibit partner and a commitment to all facets of trade show marketing (and not just the display). However, a steady diet of fine dining, just like one of fast food, is rarely healthy or cost-effective for most exhibitor. Click here for examples.
Hungry for successful trade show results? It all starts with choosing the right display for your marketing goals and budget and working with an exhibit professional committed to your long-term success. And yes, we all love french fries and chocolate milkshakes, but a more balanced diet is always a better choice. And don’t forget to treat yourself from time to time with something extravagant.
Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, custom, rental 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 www.classicexhibits.com.