Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Trade Show Exhibits’

Comparing 36 Trade Show Displays in 12 Price Ranges

December 6th, 2023 COMMENTS

New exhibitors often experience sticker shock when they see the price of a trade show display. And it’s hard to blame them. They’re accustomed to identical widgets flowing from an assembly line with economies of scale prices.

Except for imported portables, trade show exhibits are not widgets. Most are built to order, even if it starts from a pre-existing design. At Classic Exhibits, for example, every display is “made-to-order.”  

The wide range of prices can also be confusing, even for 10 ft. inlines. Your client may ask, “What’s the difference between a 10 x 10 display at $3500 and another at $23,000?” The easy answer is design, complexity, materials, packaging, and accessory options, but without visuals it can still be perplexing.   

12 Price Ranges

Below are 12 price ranges, starting at $3K and ending at $24K. In each range, there are three design examples from Exhibit Design Search, so 36 total. These are meant to be representative, not comprehensive since EDS has over 300 10 ft. kits. No rental designs were included. That would have created more chaos than a 5-year-old after two glasses of Mountain Dew.

The descriptions are generalizations, not specific features for every exhibit.

Range: $3000-$4000

Portable display backwalls with fabric graphics, stem lights, and rolling cases or carrying bags.

Range: $5000-$6000

Portable and portable hybrid displays with workstations/counters, stem lights, fabric and direct print graphics, and roto-molded case(s) with wheels.

Range: $7000-$8000

Upscale portables with counters/workstations, monitor mounts, stem lights, and floating graphics or LED lightbox with tension fabric graphic.

Range: $9000-$10,000

Sustainable and elegant portables with monitor mounts, shelves, counters/workstations, and stem lights or LED lightbox with large monitor mount and backlit graphics.

Range: $11,000-$12,000

Modular exhibits with shelving, literature, counter and monitor options, along with backlit and stem light choices.

Range: $13,000-$14,000

Custom modular and sustainable exhibits with stem light and backlighting options, shelving, locking storage, direct print and fabric graphics, and monitor/iPad mounts.

Range: $15,000-$16,000

Modern custom modular and custom exhibits with downlighting/backlighting, shelving, locking storage, and large monitor mounts.

Range: $17,000-$18,000

Contemporary custom, modular, and sustainable exhibits with modular counters, shelving, monitor mounts, shelving, multiple lighting options, and customized accessories.

Range: $19,000-$20,000

Upscale custom, modular, and sustainable exhibits with shelving, lightboxes, closet storage, and reception counters.

Range: $21,000-$22,000

Elegant custom, modular, and sustainable exhibits with storage, monitor, shelving, monitor, and lighting options including backlit and halo lit logos.

Range: $23,000-$24,000

Customized exhibits with stylized counters and a broad range of graphic, A/V, lighting, and accessory options.

The Classic Exhibits Distributor Network

Successful trade show marketing doesn’t happen by accident. There’s always a strategy and a plan. The key is identifying the right strategy and executing the right plan. For over 30 years, Classic Exhibits has been a reliable source of expertise for new and seasoned trade show marketers. 

The Classic Exhibits Distributor Network includes over 200 exhibit houses and display professionals in North America. Find success on the trade show floor with an exhibit that reflects your marketing message. For more information, see and explore Exhibit Design Search or request a meeting with a Classic Distributor Partner.

Outsource vs In-House Production of Trade Show Exhibits

June 7th, 2023 COMMENTS
SuperNova Lightbox

The 5 Cs — Capacity, Control, Cost, Convenience, and Creativity

At Classic Exhibits, we’ve learned a few things over the past 30 years. For one, everyone wants to be in control. In our business that means the design, project management, construction, staging, and delivery of their client’s display.

However, we can’t do everything which requires trusting others to be responsible. Ideally, we want them to care just as much as we do about each project and client.

At Classic, our business depends on earning the trust of our distributor partners. When they trust us, they’re much more likely to send us their projects (outsource), rather than handle it themselves (in-house). So, why should you send your next order to Classic?

Below are “5 Reasons Why Sending Your Purchase or Rental Project to Classic Exhibits Might Be the Smartest Decision You Ever Make for Your Mental Health and Financial Bottomline.” Or for the sake of simplicity, “The 5 Cs” — Capacity, Control, Cost, Convenience, and Creativity.

Trade Show Islands at Classic Exhibits

C1. Capacity by Harold Mintz

The sale you’ve been working on for the past two months just closed. Congratulations! It’s beautiful, functional, and if all goes well, it’s going to be profitable.

For many, the natural instinct would be to place this beefy 20×20 island onto your shop’s production schedule. After all, the clock started ticking as soon as you accepted that 50% deposit, and you now have less than two months until it needs to be in Orlando for NMB (National Mustache Bache).

While your production team is more than capable of building this booth, you’re also in the midst of one of our industry’s busy seasons and time is tight. If only you could wave your magic wand and find more craftspeople, more space, more machines, more material. Basically, find more capacity.

Abracadabra! Done!

Did you know that for 30 years Classic Exhibits has been the exhibit industry’s premier private-label builder for Partners just like you? Classic has your extra craftspeople, space, and machines. Classic is your MORE CAPACITY!

So, when your production schedule starts looking like a traffic jam, take a deep breathe and RELAX. Our capacity is YOUR capacity.

Outsource Rental Design and Fabrication

C2. Control by Gina Porcaro

We can all agree, losing control can be uncomfortable. There’s the “fear of the unknown,” the “what ifs?” and the “if I do it, I know it will be done right.”

However, losing control can sometimes be the best decision you’ve ever made, especially when you realize what you have “lost” control of is in the capable and talented hands of a trusted partner. Classic Exhibits is an award-winning custom builder, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the best exhibit builders in the industry.

What if you could provide the same quality to your clients from start to finish? What if that partner is behind the scenes and an extension of your business? Where you can send a purchase order and artwork and then, a few weeks later, like magic, you receive finished staging photos, branded instructions, and crates with your logo. Soon after, the exhibit arrives at the show site. If this sounds like minimal work, low risk, and guaranteed profitability, then you would be right.

Classic has the talent, expertise, and craftsmanship to not only meet, but most likely exceed your expectations. Go ahead… lose control with us! 

Wood Fabrication

C3. Cost by Tom Beard

What’s the cost to outsource vs. in-source an exhibit build?

Outsourcing needs to be evaluated in three ways: the outsource partner’s capabilities, actual dollar cost, and your overall risk tolerance. Each is important.

Capabilities – First and foremost, you need an outsource partner that has the production capabilities to meet or exceed your own in-house capabilities. Classic Exhibits has cost-effective solutions for both smaller projects and larger custom builds, all in-house. The last thing you want is to outsource a project to multiple partners for wall systems, custom work, or graphics since it’s rarely cost effective.

Dollar Costs – When building in-house, you’re tapping into your design, estimating, purchasing, project management, detailing, production, staging, shipping, and accounting. When outsourcing to Classic Exhibits, your costs are largely redirected to other projects since Classic fulfills those roles. Then there’s efficiency. We can’t be experts at everything. You may be an expert at building a large custom exhibit… but building an inline or small island? The final product will undoubtedly be amazing but at what cost in time, people, materials, and lost opportunities?

Risk Tolerance – This is a hidden cost. Let’s break it down into two scenarios.

#1. An existing client comes to you with a project that might be considered too small to handle in-house (dollar size or booth size). You need to evaluate how to protect this client and preserve the business. Do you allow your client to go to a competitor or is the real solution to partner with a builder like Classic? 

#2. Your AE has landed a promising long-term prospect, but your shop is swamped with work and the project is too small to consider both in size and return, Is this 10 x 20 client the next Microsoft? The margins on the first project may be small but will this prospect turn into a long-term client with multiple opportunities? Classic can produce custom in-lines that allow you to bring a small client on board cost-effectively.

Give us a try. We are more than happy to quote your project so you can compare margins.

Trade Show Design and Production

C4. Convenience by Mel White

Convenience: Something (such as an appliance, device, or service) conducive to comfort or ease.

Did you know there are 150,764 convenience stores in the United States. That’s approximately (1) convenience store for every 2,200 people. That’s a lot of coffee, gas, and honey buns.

We love convenience. And why shouldn’t we. Our lives are busy and when we can achieve the same result faster or easier, it makes sense. Yet, as I’ve learned over the past twenty years working in the exhibit industry, “easy and fast” sometimes takes a backseat to “slow and control” even when the easy path is more profitable.   

Three Examples of Easy and Fast vs. Slow and Control

A. Everyone has their weaknesses. We can’t all be superstars at everything. If your primary business is designing and building large custom exhibits, then designing smaller portable and modular displays can be a distraction. However, those clients, whether they’re existing ones or potential ones, represent opportunities. Having a trusted partner design and build those projects with minimal effort on your part is convenient.

B. Designing and building a website is hard. Maintaining one is even harder. Sites with hundreds of products are challenging as manufacturers add, modify, or discontinue items. Even revising prices can be an agonizing and painful task. When a supplier provides a “ready-made” solution, it means giving up control for convenience. It’s a difficult choice even when it makes more sense financially not to invest time, energy, and resources into website maintenance.  

C. Estimating expenses is challenging. Design, detailing, project management, and staging are expenses for any exhibit company. You try to build-in those costs, but not every project goes according to plan. Those unexpected costs lower the final margin. When those tasks are handled by a supplier, unpredictability shifts to them, assuming you’ve met your responsibilities to the vendor.  Your margin remains consistent and predictable. Predictability is a convenience and a benefit that’s often not overlooked.

When all things are equal, convenience should be at the top of your list. It will make your life easier and more productive.

Outsource Production

C5. Creativity by Katina Rigall Zipay

Classic’s Creative Design team can tackle any project – small to large, simple to complex. Take a look at Exhibit Design Search, our online search tool. You’ll see the wide range of sizes and degrees of customization. All of these designs sprang from the minds of our creative team and represent a small sample of our design capabilities. Our designers have decades of combined experience, are experts at designing with Classic’s systems, and love to create custom solutions.

If your company doesn’t have a designer on staff, or if you typically work with a contract designer, consider Classic as a option. Or if your staff does include designers, consider using a Classic designer when you are at capacity, or you want a design that utilizes specific Classic systems. Our team knows the Classic product lines. We know how to push the limits to create unique design solutions from our products. Plus we know the custom capabilities in our wood fab and metal shops and often collaborate with our production technicians on solutions.

Communication, flexibility, and creativity should go hand-in-hand. Every week, our designers work with other designers, account managers, project managers, and even end-users. In fact, did you know we are happy to join conference calls with you and your client, acting as YOUR designer? We are on your team and want nothing more than to help you get the sale. 

I encourage you to use our creativity as a tool in your toolbox! Contact us at


You have choices, not only to build it yourself but also to send it to another supplier. After 30 years, we’ve understand that our reputation depends on the project you sent us last month and the one you send us next month. It’s earned job-by-job, success-by-success. Sometimes that’s a tabletop. Other times it’s a custom 40 x 50 island. We welcome the chance to be your designer and builder.

Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufactures portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including Symphony Portable Displays. 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

Trade Show Production Since 1993

February 14th, 2023 COMMENTS
trade show production

You’ve done your research, chosen an exhibit house partner, worked with an exhibit designer on the build and completed your graphic design. That’s impressive! Now, it just has to be built to your design specifications and in time for your trade show!

For many marketers, once the actual production starts, i.e., the building of your trade show booth, they sit back and relax. For others, the exhibit construction is another step in the overall marketing process, and they continue to be both curious and involved. 

Whether you want to be involved or take a hands-off approach, understanding the exhibit production process can be beneficial. Not only do you learn about the materials and the construction process required to build your booth, but you see how the exhibit will be assembled, packed, and disassembled on the show floor. That knowledge can be invaluable when supervising labor at the show and solving unexpected problems. Time is money at a trade show and knowing how to quickly find a solution can save you hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. 

Trade Show Production: Planning & Important Steps

In meetings with the exhibit house, you’ll be asked about your goals, budget, show schedule, booth size requirements, and packaging. Experienced exhibitors often write an RFQ which lists these requirements, along with many more. Those requirements will include some of the following: 

Purchase or Rent. Purchase suggests creating custom exhibits or modifying from an exhibit kit. Rental means creating an exhibit from existing components like aluminum modular wall systems, light boxes, and fabric graphics. However, both purchase and rentals can be built from a wide range of materials and/or systems. 

Portable, Modular, or Custom. For new exhibitors, what may appear to be a straight-forward request, often isn’t – “The devil is in the details.” 

  • Portable in “trade show lingo” usually means the cases can be shipped via UPS or FedEx. It doesn’t mean the display is lightweight, or the assembly is toolless. They can be both, but not always. 
  • Modular means  “reconfigurable” at some point. Reconfigurability may require additional components and cases or crates. There are portable modular displays and custom modular exhibits. 
  • Custom often suggests “wood construction” but not always. The exhibit industry often uses the terms “custom” and “customization” interchangeably but customization can mean a standard kit or design has been “modified.” 

Cases or Crates. Roto-molded cases typically come with wheels. Sizes vary but must fit within FedEx or UPS guidelines. Weight can vary as well, with some packed cases weighing as little as 40 lbs. to others tipping the scale at 120 lbs. The number of cases also matters. If the display requires 5 or more cases, then consider a crate option instead. The purchase price and shipping costs will be comparable at this point. Unlike cases, crates are built using wood sheets and jigged to fit the exhibit components. They are heavy and ship via common carriers. Some exhibits require one crate, and others may require up to 20-30 depending on the size of the exhibit. 

Storage. Where’s it going to go after the show? Exhibitors are often surprised by that question. While smaller properties can be stored anywhere, larger ones like crates are more problematic, which is why exhibit houses offer storage services. The exhibit will be stored in a climate-controlled facility, usually at the exhibit house. The exhibit house can then check the exhibit and booth for damage after a show and stage it before a show to ensure there are no issues. 

Building a Trade Show Booth: How Long Does it Take?

Let’s pretend you don’t know the answer to the question: “How long does it take to build a trade show booth”? Answer:  It depends. Many inexpensive portable displays are pre-packed in boxes and only require printing graphics. Other smaller booths, like modular inlines, are built to order and take anywhere from two to three weeks. 

Custom exhibits are the wild card. If the custom exhibit is based on a previous design, then it may only take a month. However, some custom exhibits are massive with LED video panels, multiple hanging signs, double-deck structures, and large-format graphics. Those can take months to design, detail, build, stage, and pack. Similar to building a single-family home, but one that has to disassemble for shipping. 

Build time depends on other factors as well. For example

  • Estimation and Detailing
  • Availability of Materials 
  • Exhibit Production Schedule at the Exhibit House
  • Graphic Design and Printing
  • The Client 

exhibit construction

Exhibit Construction: 9 Mistakes to Avoid

#1. Exhibit Designers Design. Exhibit Builders Build.

Seems pretty simple, right? On occasion, the pretty rendering doesn’t seamlessly translate into something buildable. Builders have to make changes not only to the design but also to the materials. Quality exhibit houses stay in constant communication with the client and ensure the client approves any changes. No one wants a surprise AFTER the EXHIBIT is DONE.

#2. Wire Management.

Just like with a house, an exhibit often has electrical and data wires. The exhibit builder will make sure those wires are integrated into the exhibit during the detailing and build process. However, they can account for wires they don’t know about such as tablets, charging pads, audio/visual devices, and products. The exhibitor MUST SHARE this information with the exhibit house before the building starts. Fixing any wiring issues on the show floor is guaranteed to be both expensive and ugly.   

#3. Ease-of-Assembly.

Your booth is BEAUTIFUL, but it’s a nightmare to assemble. No one wants that. As an exhibitor, you should be reviewing the build details before construction starts on your booth. And don’t be afraid to ask questions about the assembly.

#4. Detailed Setup Instructions.

Bad setup instructions are more common than you might think. Why? Because it’s usually left to the end of the build, it’s a pain in the ass for the building, and the builder doesn’t make any money on the setup instructions. Require the exhibit house to show you examples of previous setup instructions. If you can’t follow it without coaching, then the labor crew on the show floor will have the same problem. If they struggle with the instructions then it can lead to damage and almost always means the setup takes more time. 

#5. Material Choices.

You may be surprised to learn that an identical design could be constructed with either wood or aluminum extrusions. Even the type of wood can vary, along with the aluminum extrusion system. Ask for details and an explanation. Just because an exhibit house has 10 carpenters doesn’t mean the exhibit should be wood construction. 

#6. Over or Under Construction.

If you’ve ever seen the back of a film or theatrical set, you know it’s a facade. Building a facade lowers the cost and weight, both of which are good. The same can be said for exhibit construction. There’s a sweet spot when building an exhibit. You want it to match the design rendering, be durable over multiple shows, be as lightweight as possible to save on shipping and drayage, and assemble without any issues. 

#7. Locking Storage.

Most larger booths have storage for products, giveaways, literature, refreshments, and personal items like coats, purses, and briefcases. However, locking storage does not always mean secure storage. Countertops may not be attached to the counter. Counters are open on the bottom. And graphics can be easily removed to access storage in a pedestal or closet. If you require “secure storage,” then make the storage actually secure from sticky fingers before, during, and after show floor hours. 

#8. Crate Construction.

Designing and building quality wood crates is an art form. Not only does the crate have to be rock solid to survive shipping and material handling, but the jigging has to be cleverly designed to secure all the exhibit components in the least amount of space. Be clear about your expectations regarding your crates. 

#9. Staging.

Every exhibit, purchase or rental, should be staged at the exhibit house. Sadly, that’s not always true, either because of time constraints or cost. However, staging identifies 99% of any build problems, which can usually be addressed quickly and inexpensively. Those same problems become exponentially more complicated and expensive on the trade show floor. As an exhibitor, even if you can’t see the staging in person at the exhibit house, there’s no reason not to expect photos, video, or a live video review. 

building a trade show booth

Over 30 Years of Trade Show Production Experience

For 30 years, Classic Exhibits has been designing and building exceptional trade show exhibits. Those solutions include both purchase and rental exhibits, including inlines, islands, tabletops, overhead signs, and a wide range of accessories, like counters, charging solutions, and workstations. 

Classic Exhibits has been designing and building solutions since 1993. We’ve been honored as an Exhibitor Magazine Find-It Top 40 Exhibit Producers and an Event Marketer Fab 50 Exhibit Builders multiple times. Along with numerous Portable Modular Awards. 

With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative close by to assist with any rental project. Contact us today whether you need an inline rental display, a double-deck island exhibit, or a contemporary kiosk rental. At Classic, we’re not just different. We’re better.

Understanding Your Virtual Trade Show Exhibit Options

July 31st, 2020 COMMENTS
Virtual Trade Show Exhibit Design Services

The suspension of most onsite trade shows in Q2 and Q3 has prompted show organizers to offer virtual show options to attendees and exhibitors. So, what does that mean? As with anything new, there are conflicting opinions and options.

As a leader in exhibit design, Classic Exhibits has always offered comprehensive design services to our distributors and their clients, in both 2D and 3D formats. The switch to virtual exhibits really isn’t much of a stretch. It all depends on what the virtual exhibitor wants to include and showcase int their exhibit. And since it’s virtual, unlike a physical booth, there are far more opportunities to show products and services in both immersive and online experiences.

If you are considering a virtual exhibit at a trade show, you should begin by talking to professionals who understand the requirements, the technology, and most importantly, what questions to ask. Contact us or your Classic Exhibits distributor for a free consultation. You might be surprised by what’s available. Click HERE for an example.

SEGUE Sunrise Simple Summer Specials

May 17th, 2019 COMMENTS

Occam’s Razor states: “The Simplest Solution is Almost Always the Best.” The SEGUE Sunrise Simple Specials. See all 12 portable kits on Exhibit Design Search. Valid until 6/28/19

SEGUE Sunrise Trade Show Exhibit Specials