Many inline and island trade show exhibits include furniture, like lounge chairs, bar tables, stools, and end tables. Much of it rental furniture. More recently, rental options have expanded to include safety dividers, rugs and pillows, and even charging options for phones, tables, and laptops.
As trade shows resume post-COVID, this rental trend will continue, if not increase as exhibitors choose more cost-effective options. For most exhibitors, selecting from the show book can be confusing (and expensive). As better option is Exhibit Design Search with two comprehensive CORT galleries with over 200 rental designs: Rental Gallery #1 and Rental Gallery #2.
Rental Furniture Examples
Last week, new designs were added to the galleries. See below for some of the additions.
Trade shows can be brutalfor attendees and exhibitors alike. Just consider the intensive planning, travel, installation, and long hours before, during, and after the show hours. It’s a big commitment, both physically and financially, so smart trade show marketers look for creative tricks to entice attendees to visit their booth.
Of course, there’s no substitute for the basics of pre-show
marketing, exhibit design, branding, and staff training. That goes without
saying. Beyond that, many exhibitors neglect to create an environment where
attendees feel comfortable and want to spend time. Thankfully, it doesn’t have
to cost an arm and a leg to win the hearts and minds of potential clients. Feed
them. Give them a place to relax. And get them charged up!
The Five Essentials
1. Food/Candy. If you have ever attended a European trade show, you know that many exhibitors have (at the very least) cheese and crackers in the booth. Unlike in Europe, serving food can be problematic at most U.S. venues because the convention center has an exclusive contract on food and drinks. Which means being creative with the food you offer.
Most venues will look the other way if you are giving “selective” guests candy, protein or breakfast bars, or even bagged cookies. More elaborate promotions like ice cream sundaes or taco bars require show approval, but smaller items are rarely a problem if handled discretely. Trade show attendees welcome munchies after strolling the floor for hours, especially if it’s presented as a special treat unavailable to the general public.
2. Water. Like
food, most venues are very protective of drinks since the markup is so
lucrative. However, many exhibitors pack cases of water in their crates for
their use during setup and for the staff during the show, which they keep in
the storage closet or counters. You certainly don’t want someone fainting in
your booth from dehydration, so having some spare water is probably a good idea
as long as it’s not being handed to every attendee passing by your booth. Wink.
Here’s an idea you might consider. Eco-systems Sustainable Exhibits, a designer and builder of eco-friendly trade show displays, brings branded boxed water to their events. Boxed water is more eco-friendly than plastic bottles and is more efficient to produce and ship. Plus, it’s unusual and rarely identifiable as water by the show halls. Click HERE to learn more about Boxed Water.
3. Entertainment. Face it… you yearn to be entertained at a trade show. If there’s a magician, you stop and watch. Same with virtual reality demos. Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive, and it should never be a distraction from your messaging. But there are always ways to intertwine your message with a simple game like electronic darts or Wack-a-Mole or golf. The key is to attract the right attendees, not just anyone bored and eager to win a prize. If you don’t feel you have the time or the creativity to create and manage the entertainment, work with your exhibit house. They know lots of companies dedicated to matching your show objectives with targeted entertainment.
4. Comfortable Furniture. EVERY ATTENDEE appreciates comfortable chairs or loveseats in a booth, regardless of the booth size. Furniture encourages clients to linger so you have time to assess their needs and suggest solutions. Thankfully, modern rental furniture comes in a wide variety of styles and colors to match most exhibit designs and colors. As an exhibitor, you need to decide if you want private or semi-private meeting spaces, whether you need tables, and how you need to structure the space. Keep in mind, you are not creating a lounge for everyone to plop down, answer emails, and check their social media. It’s for business and business conversations.
BTW – Don’t let anyone tell you that booths should never have furniture because it will encourage your staff to sit and do nothing. That’s a not a furniture issue. It’s a training issue which indicates that the booth staff doesn’t understand your company’s trade show goals.
5. Power/Charging. Why fight it? Everyone has a smartphone. Some have several, plus a tablet or laptop at the show. And even with the improved battery life of most devices, we’re all power nomads searching for an electrical oasis on the show floor. Be smart. Give them what they want with charging stations. Thankfully, modern charging solutions don’t have to look like something you stole from the airport. There are contemporary bistro, coffee, and meeting tables along with standalone charging kiosks. All with branding options that complement your overall graphic theme. Many include both USB and wireless charging options. Many are available for purchase or to rent. See a wide selection HERE.
Gone are the days when you exhibitors could rely on bold graphics and an attractive exhibit to draw attendees into their booth. Trade shows are more competitive and complex than ever before. You need to understand today’s attendees – what they want and expect and how they decide which exhibitors to visit before and during the show.
Nothing is more important than quality touches with a potential client on the show floor. Creating an atmosphere that’s welcoming, inviting, and entertaining is a step in the right direction to win the heart and mind of your next big customer.
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.
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.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. Then 2017. Yes, it might be a little early for predictions, but we just completed our 2017 budget so the future has been on our minds for several months.
Here’s what our Magic 8 Ball tells us. Industry predictions from Kevin and Mel.
Elections Always Bring Doubt. This year more than most. However, there’s a difference between uncertain uncertainty and certain uncertainty. Just in the past two weeks, we’ve seen a significant increase in design requests, whether trade show, corporate environments, or events. We expect that to continue through Q1 and Q2.
We believe that 2017 will mimic 2015. More new builds with a focus on “I want what I want.” Less of “I’ll get what I need.” If that holds true, we will all benefit.
Generalist vs. Specialist. In our collective little world, you better be an anal-retentive, opportunistic generalist. We can no longer pretend to just do trade shows or events or museum or retail design. We must embrace all 3D opportunities available. I’m amazed at the projects leaving our dock which will never be on a trade show floor. They’ll be at a sales meeting, in a mall, in a corporate conference room, or a bracket for a wireless product.
Change is inevitable. What you don’t know, you learn or partner with someone with “a particular set of skills.” Two years ago, we didn’t know squat about charging stations. Now, we can’t build them fast enough.
Charging Stations, Lightboxes, Rental Furniture. I won’t belabor this. You’ve heard us say it before. It’s basically free money on nearly every trade show order if you include charging stations, lightboxes, and rental furniture. Ignoring these hot trends will negatively impact your income.
Rental Exhibits and Accessories. It’s hard to ignore a 25% sales increase year-over-year for seven straight years. We expect rentals to continue at this pace. Just this year, Jim Shelman and his team added a significant inventory of Gravitee Modular Solutions which has proven to reduce I&D and drayage costs for clients while expanding his already impressive design portfolio.
Branded Environments. Customers want their corporate environments, show floor spaces, and events to be consistent. Meaning, branding in all spaces will only continue to grow. This includes re-purposing graphic messaging or, better yet, using parts of their exhibit in their corporate environments during off-show times.
Data Analytics on Steroids. Data analytics appears to be poised for a massive leap. This includes the ability to track movement, “hang time” in a space, and influence an event in real-time. All driven by the desire to track engagement and make adjustments on the fly to meet attendee needs during an event or a show.
Sustainability. It’s not a new topic, but it got shelved by many exhibitors during the recession. 2017 will see a renewed push for sustainable materials and practices in corporate exhibit and event programs.
Less is More. Exhibitors continue to rely on “system” structures like aluminum extrusions to build their properties. But less and less of it is seen via creative graphic applications or integrated custom wood fabrication, cladding, powder-coating, etc. Aluminum extrusion sales are increasing… we’re just seeing less of it visually.
Company-Managed Trade Shows. 2016 saw a big increase in companies managing their own shows. These were often branded as events but in reality were in-house mini-shows with their preferred partners and customers. It allows companies to define the attendee list and manage what attendees see (and don’t see). That’s not to say that companies are abandoning their exhibit programs at national shows. Not at all. But adding these events gives them a higher ROI for specific product launches, training sessions, or sales events.
Assembly, Shipping, and Drayage. These concerns never go away, whether it’s 2008 or 2017. If you’re not designing and engineering to minimize these issues, then you are an ostrich with your head in the sand. We believe that Gravitee represents the first comprehensive solution. No tools. No loose parts. Curves. Flat panels. Wire management. Fabric and direct print graphics. And seamless connectivity to the MODUL Aluminum Extrusion System. Yes, this is a blatant plug for Gravitee, but it’s also a prediction. Gravitee will be front and forward in 2017.
Please share your thoughts and predictions in the comments. What did we miss or get wrong?
Just ask Nokia and Blackberry. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. So, let’s end on a happy note and chat about trends. Namely, what we’ve seen in 2016 that (we believe) will continue in 2017.
Tip #21 — Charging Stations
Sometimes it’s good to be both lucky and smart. We’ve sold lots and lots and lots of charging tables and stations in 2016 by tapping into a design need. Exhibitors want charging options that don’t look like they stole them from the airport. They have to blend into the exhibit or event environment.
Charging stations say to clients, “Come into the booth and linger. Let’s talk about your business needs.” If you are a fishbowl exhibitor, then a charging option may not make sense, except for your staff. Which is OK too.
Tip #22 — Rental Displays and Accessories
Rental Displays are the fastest growing division of Classic Exhibits Inc. That’s not going to change in 2017. Exhibitors are looking for financial and design flexibility. Quality rentals are no longer a compromise either for the exhibitor or for the exhibit sales professional. And truth be told, there’s far more money to be made on repeat rentals than on a purchase.
When a client enters your door, your first question should be, “Are you looking to purchase or rent?” You can’t lose if you offer both at the get-go.
Tip #23 — Lightboxes and LED Lighting
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Lightboxes are on fire! Well, you know what I mean. What you may not realize is that LED lighting has become a hot add-on for counters, workstations, monitor stands, even perimeter graphics as well. The price is reasonable, and the visual effect is amazing.
We’ve become experts at RGB programmable LED lights. Tune them to the right color to match a logo or let them dance through the color spectrum.
Tip #24 — Events, Retail, and Corporate Environments
The change is noticeable. We are seeing a double-digit uptick in orders in events, retail, and corporate environments. The event business is evenly divided between rentals and purchase. Corporate environments and retail are all purchases, evenly divided between custom builds and SEG solutions. We would all be naive to think this trend is slowing any time soon.
Tip #25 — Rental Furniture
Is it just me or is there a lot more rental furniture on the trade show floor? I asked several Exhibit Appointed Contractors (EAC) last summer to estimate the percentage of booths with rental furniture. I expected them to say 20-30 percent. They told me 70-95%. Yowsa!
About 5 months ago, we partnered with CORT to add two Rental Furniture Galleries to Exhibit Design Search. We recognized that Classic distributors could make money on rental furniture by adding it to EDS with retail prices. Every time you don’t use it, you are giving money away to the General Service Contractors. Like they need any more money. Sheesh!
I hope you enjoyed these 25 tips. I know I did. Look for three new charging stations in Design Monday this week.