Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Trade Shows’

If Hotels Were Run Like Trade Shows

July 10th, 2023 COMMENTS

A guest approaches the reception desk at a hotel and says to the desk manager, “Hi. I’d like a room for a week, perhaps longer.”

“Sure,” replies the desk manager. “Will it be a single, double, or suite?”

“A single is fine.”

“Great. For a week, the price is $17,000. You’ll have access to the room for 8-10 hours per day. ”

“Pardon me?” says the guest. “I don’t think I heard you correctly. I can only use the room for part of the day? What’s that all about? And what’s the deal on the price?”

“The price is the price. It’s non-negotiable. For security reasons, we limit access to your room. You wouldn’t want someone wandering into your room when you are not there.”

“Aren’t there locks on the door?”

“Oh no!” explains the desk manager. “You can lock your valuables in the dresser or closet, but the room doesn’t have a door.”

“Odd,” says the guest, “but I’ll take the room.”

“Do you have any luggage?”

“Of course. It’s outside. I’ll go get it.”

“That’s not allowed!” shouts the desk manager. “We have a contractor who does that. They’ll get your luggage, bring it to your room, and remove it when you leave. It will cost between $3000-$15,000 depending on how much luggage you have and how much it weighs. Please pay the contractor directly for this service. Not me.”

“Anything else?” says the guest. 

“Of course. Sheesh! It’s like you haven’t stayed at a hotel before. We have several contractors who specialize in unpacking and packing, including assembling your bed. You can choose the contractor you prefer. I’m assuming you’ll want electricity, a television, Internet, water, and cleaning services. Those are all separate fees from separate contractors.”

“So, the room doesn’t have a bed?” asks the guest.

Hotel Room
I’m assuming you’ll want electricity, a television, Internet, water, and cleaning services. Those are extra.

“Don’t be silly,” says the desk manager. “How would we ever know what type of bed you want? Only you know that. Although we’re happy to rent you a bed that’s been used by other guests for years. For all the services listed, you can expect to pay an additional $36,000.”

“To be honest with you, I thought this would be simple. I have a big deal to close this week, so I guess I don’t really have much of a choice. Does the hotel at least have a morning breakfast?”

“Absolutely. Here’s a menu and price list. Please note that bottled water is $8, a large cup of coffee is $12, and a sausage biscuit is $20. Also, if you bring any food to your room, we’ll charge you a fee.”

The sausage biscuit is $20 or two for $36

“Well, I’m here so let’s get started,” says the guest. “By the way, if I decide to stay another week, when do I need to let you know.”

“Well, that’s complicated,” responds the desk manager.

“We only rent the property for a week. Then another company rents it next week. It changes all the time. You’ll have to start the process all over again if you decide to stay longer.”

“To be honest with you,” says the guest. “From the perspective of the customer paying the bill, this seems like a crazy way to run a business. And insanely expensive! Why would anyone stay at a hotel more than once?”

“Habit mostly. Guests who understand the process start by creating goals and a strategy for making money while they’re here. Others, like you my friend, arrive without a clue and probably will never come back. Which is fine. There’s always someone who needs a room for a week, even if they don’t know why. May I have your credit card? You may want to give me two or three since we’re likely to hit your limit.”


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 Staffing: Assembling the Right Team

June 30th, 2023 COMMENTS
Trade Show Staffing

Trade show booth staffing should be easy. Tell the sales team to go to the show. Then invite someone from marketing or perhaps a go-getter from customer service. Ignore accounting, engineering, operations, and senior management. Easy peasy. And yet…

Consider this. Trade shows are expensive, chaotic, overwhelming, and confusing. They’re also an excellent venue for introducing products and services, meeting new clients, and generating business. Getting it right requires setting goals, creating a strategy, completing a  list of tasks, and bringing the right team. The team matters. 

Unfortunately, most trade show booth staffers don’t have a clue why they’re spending 5-6 hours a day for three days in their company’s exhibition booth. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to create an All-Star Booth Staff. It simply takes planning, communication, and discipline. 

Key Considerations for Trade Show Staffing 

Trade shows are a battlefield with winners and losers. On that battlefield, strategy and implementation outperforms brute strength every time. What are the goals? Is everyone clear about them? At a minimum, there should be a strategy and planning “booth camp” meeting before the show. Then, there should be alignment meetings every day before the show opens. Some companies even have meetings after the show hall closes to review leads, answer questions, and prepare for the next day.

When it comes to your trade show staff, you get what you tolerate. When you expect more, your team will rise to the challenge. Set clear expectations, communicate your goals, plan your strategy, and manage the environment, the days, and your post-show communication. It’s not easy, but your team (and your boss) will sing your praises when it’s “Go Time!”

8 Key Responsibilities for Any Trade Show Booth Staff 

  • Generate Leads
  • Collect Data
  • Build Relationships
  • Promote Your Brand
  • Increase Sales
  • Improve Customer Service
  • Create a Positive Reputation
  • Learn about Customers, Competitors, and the Industry 

Trade Show Booth Staffing Rules 

Rule #1: Knowledge 

Not every booth staffer needs to know everything. Collectively, however,  the team needs to know everything and know who’s the expert about every subject. The expert should be able to answer questions about that topic, as well as explain the features and benefits of your products or services.

Rule #2: Goals

Set clear goals for your booth staff. What do you hope to achieve by participating in the trade show? Then provide your staff with training on your products or services. This should include a thorough overview of your offerings, as well as any recent updates or changes.

Rule #3: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Provide your staff with feedback throughout the training process. This will help them to identify areas where they need improvement and make sure that they are on track to achieve their goals. Pre- and post-show staff meetings keep the team focused on the goals and address any concerns. 

Rule #4: Explore 

It’s not just about what’s happening in the booth. Give them time to explore the show floor, check out competitors, discover new suppliers, and meet with attendees at social events. 

Rule #5: Have fun! 

Attending a trade show should be fun, and trade show booth staff training should be a positive experience for everyone involved. Make sure to create a relaxed atmosphere where your staff can learn and grow.

trade show booth staffing

What to Look for in Trade Show Staff 

Who should be there? That’s easy. Bring employees who know the products or services, who have charismatic people skills, who are personally invested in results, and who participate in pre-show planning or post-show implementation. Two out of four doesn’t cut it. A trade show isn’t a vacation. It’s a strategic investment. Your sales team may check all those boxes, but don’t be afraid to look for superstars in other departments who want to be at the show, understand the products and services, and will WOW! attendees. 

In any pack, there are always the stragglers, the injured, and the just plain stupid. You can ignore them and allow them to be food for your competitors, or you can deal with the problem. The staffer who arrives late sweating tequila and lime, reeking of three cups of espresso, better have a good reason, like entertaining your key client until 4 am. Same with Susie Smartphone or Standing-on-the-Sidelines Sam. This isn’t a soccer tournament for 8-year-olds where everyone gets participation ribbons. It’s a competition where sales, money, and jobs are on the line. Everyone has to pull their share. At tough love companies, the Susies and the Sams get sent home via Greyhound with loose change for vending machine sandwiches.

Trade Show Event Staffing: How to Prep Your Team for Success 

What they know is important. What they do with that knowledge is critical. You want the information dream team in your booth. Whatever the question, there’s someone there who has an answer, can get an answer, and lives to share that information. 

Just knowing stuff isn’t enough. Each staffer must capture every sweet, savory nugget of information the attendee shares. Everyone thinks they’ll remember that game-changing conversation from Day 1. By Day 3, they couldn’t tell you their own spouse’s middle name even if you gave them the first three letters.

Trade shows are exhausting physically and mentally. There is zero chance you’ll remember the details even if you have an eidetic memory. Honestly, the lead retrieval system doesn’t matter. What matters is having a system your group understands and follows. You can’t be a namby-pamby about this. There should be consequences for not adhering to the information capture process.

Trade Show Staffing Strategy & Consulting with Classic Exhibits! 

Booth staff training is an important competitive advantage. Yet, most companies ignore it or simply go through the motions. It’s not automatic. The same energy that went into designing the exhibit, creating the graphics, completing the forms, and arranging the travel and lodging should go into training. It doesn’t happen on its own and well-prepared exhibitors will always own the show floor over their lazy competitors. 

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 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.

A Professional’s Guide to Sustainable Exhibits

June 1st, 2023 COMMENTS

If you’re reading this article, then you’re already an excellent candidate for a custom eco friendly exhibit. You may be personally committed to green materials, or your company may have a sustainability initiative. Either way, it’s a positive choice. In this post, we’ll explore what sustainable means when it comes to designing, building, and shipping a “green exhibit.”

Historically, trade shows have not been eco-friendly. There’s the “build and burn” philosophy in some parts of the world where exhibits are abandoned after one use. There’s also the tremendous waste created before, during, and after a show – like packaging, paper, wood, foam, and fabric signs, and flooring. Fortunately, about 15 years ago, show organizers, general contractors, and builders took a (somewhat) more enlightened approach with the goals of more eco-friendly trade shows.

You Can Make a Difference with Our Sustainable Exhibits

As an exhibitor, you can make a difference, and that difference doesn’t have to cost more or compromise your design or marketing goals. Green display materials such as Eco-board, ReCo, and FSC wood products are smart choices that are comparable to non-sustainable materials in performance, look, and feel.  However, none of that matters if you can’t get the design and the features you need in your exhibit.

Thankfully, since 2007, Classic Exhibits has been designing modern ecoSmart Sustainable Displays for our clients ranging from islands to inlines and counters to charging tables. There are hundreds of options and a wide range of designs. 

Why Choose Eco-Friendly Exhibits? 

  • Contemporary, Dynamic Designs
  • Environmentally Friendly Materials
  • Fulfill Your Company’s Sustainability Initiative
  • It’s an easy choice.  There is no downside to going with an Eco-friendly Exhibit.

How Are EcoSmart Displays Sustainable Trade Show Exhibits?

Every Eco-Systems Exhibit starts with sustainable materials. These include:

  • Aluminum Extrusions: 70% recycled content and aluminum is endlessly recyclable.
  • Forest Stewardship Council Wood Products: Certified grown and harvested sustainably.
  • Laminates:  Greenguard Certified.
  • Adhesives:  Water-based, low or VOC free (Volatile Organic Compounds).
  • Eco-Board: Biodegradable polystyrene.
  • ReCo Board:  100% recycled plastics.
  • Eco-Glass: 100% post-industrial recycled acrylic or plexi-glass. 
  • Fabric Graphics: 100% post-consumer material including dye-sub SEG backlit graphics.
  • LED Lights: Lightboxes, accent lights, stem lights, and downlighting.
  • Shipping Cases made from recycled plastics and 100% recyclable when no longer needed. All wood crates are made using FSC Wood.
  • Reusable Packing Materials Made from Recycled Foam

In addition, Eco-Systems exhibits are manufactured in Portland, OR at a sustainably managed facility.

Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits from Classic Exhibits

OK, But Will My Eco Friendly Exhibit Look “Green”?

Do you mean funky, crunchy, or recycled-looking? It can but most exhibitors want a sustainable exhibit with a contemporary look and feel. In other words, no one knows it’s “green” unless you tell them. That applies to 10 ft, 20 ft., islands, and accessories.

10 Eco Friendly Exhibit Examples

Here are some examples from the 200+ kits in the ecoSmart galleries.

Eco Friendly Island Exhibits

Eco Friendly Exhibit
  • ECO-4022:  This modular design, with 10 ft. and 20 ft. inline options, has bright LED Lightboxes, reception counters with locking storage, and even a spacious interior conference room
sustainable exhibit
  • ECO-4055: An elegant island with product shelving and showcases. This design comes with curved headers and a monitor option.
Sustainable Exhibits
  • ECO-4094:  This open design with seating and a reception counter is cost-effective as a purchase or a rental.
green exhibit
  • ECO-4071:  The custom modular design is perfect for the exhibitor with an aggressive show schedule that includes 10 ft, 20 ft., and island booths. The ECO-4071 is easy to reconfigure and includes sustainable options like LED lights, graphics printed on recycled materials, and an aluminum structure. 

Sustainable Inline Exhibits

Sustainable Trade Show Exhibits
  • ECO-1071: Modular and customizable, the ECO-1071 makes it easy to demonstrate products or services on the show floor with casual seating, counters, and rotating tablet displays.
Sustainable Trade Show Exhibits
  • ECO-2060: Big, bold graphics make this an enticing exhibit. There’s even a full-size closet for product samples, coats, purses, and briefcases.
Eco Friendly Exhibit
  • ECO-2113: The perfect balance between backlit graphics and extensive shelving. The curved display counters put your products front and center on the aisle.
Eco Friendly Exhibit
  • ECO-1038-B:  Backlit and beautiful, the ECO-1038 shines with backlit graphics, locking closet storage, and a practical reception counter. Need more space? The ECO-1038-B easily reconfigures to a 10 x 20 with even more storage and backlighting.

Sustainable Exhibit Accessories

Green Exhibits Accessories
  • ECO-42C Reception Counter:  The contemporary design, backlit graphics, and raised plex countertop will attract attention, but it’s the FSC wood, LED lights, and recycled acrylic that make it sustainable. 
sustainable trade show accessories
  • ECO-22C Pedestal:  Attracting shelving options on the aisle are like unicorns. People talk about them but no one can find one. The ECO-22C is the ideal solution for featuring products “front and forward” at a trade show with six adjustable shelves.

How Much Customization is Available with Green Exhibits?

In short, we’ll build whatever you want. The online galleries are idea generators where you can see what’s possible, and mix and match designs to fulfill your specific marketing needs. For example, we have clients in the natural foods industry. Most want a bright and colorful exhibit with extensive shelving and storage, plus convenient counters for sampling. They also need a reconfigurable sustainable exhibit since their shows vary from local tastings when a 10 ft. booth is ideal to an industry show in Las Vegas, Anaheim, or Boston where only an island will do to handle the crowds, meetings, and press conferences.

When it comes to an eco-friendly display, there’s no reason to limit your vision. The materials are comparable in price to non-green materials and have the same construction flexibility.

Eco Friendly Trade Show Exhibit

Is There an Ultimate Sustainable Exhibits Option?

Looking for the ultimate sustainable exhibit for your trade show program? Don’t buy it. Rent it. Rental displays made with sustainable materials are a win-win. They’re constructed with eco-friendly materials, including aluminum, FSC wood, and recycled graphic fabric and substrates. 

Custom rental exhibits are quickly becoming the greenest of green choices for exhibitors who want to make a difference. Many rental exhibits are built with the same materials previously mentioned, come in a variety of sizes and designs, and can be customized for any exhibitor — even from show to show. Rentals give exhibitors the ultimate flexibility to change their messaging without the hassle of ownership.

An eco-friendly rental from Classic Exhibits looks identical to a purchased exhibit. Just imagine your beautiful island display with large LED lightboxes, big overhead signs, conference and meeting rooms, and workstations at a price 40% less than a comparable purchased display.

Rental Island Exhibits | Rental Inline Exhibits | Rental Counters and Accessories

Because rentals are used again and again, as long as the components are functional and attractive, they are more sustainable for the exhibitor and the builder. Plus, at Classic Exhibits, when components can no longer be used, we recycle them – wood, aluminum, and plastic. That may not always happen when an exhibitor decides to dispose of their purchased display.

To view all of the rental designs, click on Rentals or Exhibit Design Search. Or start a conversation with a Classic Exhibits professional about designing a one-of-a-kind custom rental display.

–Mel White


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

Designing for Digital Signage at Trade Shows

April 13th, 2023 COMMENTS

Our thanks to Popshap for inviting Classic Exhibits on their Beyond Interactive video/podcast channels . Mel White from Classic Exhibits and Eitan Magid and Dahlia Lopez from Popshap discuss digital signage and interactive technologies. These technologies are a relatively new element on the exhibition floor. In our conversation, we review current trends in the exhibit industry and how digital signage and interactive kiosks are becoming an essential tool for exhibitors.

To explore Popshap’s digital signage solutions, visit them at or their product gallery in Exhibit Design Search.

Trade Show Material Handling and Labor Rate Survey

February 16th, 2023 COMMENTS

By Jessica Sibila, Executive Director, The Exhibitor Advocate

The Exhibitor Advocate recently published a 2022 Material Handling and Labor Rate Survey. The survey is an important benchmarking tool that provides industry stakeholders with cost comparisons of average labor and material handling rates across 16 major US cities. The survey was previously conducted by Trade Show Week and then EDPA through 2017. The key data findings in the survey show that exhibitor costs continue to rise. Installation and dismantle labor, electrical labor and material handling are outpacing inflation some by more than 30%.

To most of the industry, this isn’t surprising. We’ve been feeling these increases for a while. It just happens to be that now we have the data to confirm our suspicions. Every year, exhibitors have seen prices go up, and we get more and more creative on how to manage our costs. We work with our exhibit partners to try to figure out how to stretch every dollar. We compromise on our booth size, the products we choose to bring, and the way we promote or showcase our brand. I’ve sometimes heard stakeholders say, if exhibitors don’t want to pay the increasing fees, they should walk away from the show. But it’s not that easy. Trade shows are important to our business. There are interactions that happen here that are unparalleled. We support our associations, and we want to be part of the community that naturally occurs at these events.

Download the Survey (FREE)

There is more and more scrutiny on these events and the budgets that go along with them. Are we getting a ROI? Can we return from the show and explain the value of being there even if it was the intangibles that made it successful? Rising costs are an important part of the equation, not the whole equation. We must focus on the overall value. As costs go up, so too must value. Lately, we’ve seen rising costs outpace inflation and value. It’s why The Exhibitor Advocate exists. We started this non-profit trade association to amplify the voice of exhibitors. We’re not here to tell any stakeholder what they should charge. We are here to share pain points and data in an attempt to improve this important marketing channel. Labor and material handling rates are one of those areas. As an industry, we must look at these challenges and work together to find solutions to the value equation.

Having information available to the industry, like the Material Handling and Labor Rate Survey, is just the first step. As we all know, data is power. With this information, exhibitors can more accurately budget for upcoming shows and plan their participation accordingly. Show Managers can evaluate and compare their exhibitor rates to city averages. Facilities can utilize competitive exhibitor rates to attract shows to their destination. And so much more! Having the data is one step. Taking action is the next. This only works when we come together to address these issues and balance the value equation. Share this data with your network and support exhibitors in speaking up on what they need to be successful. If the exhibitor is successful, so too is the industry.

Download your copy of the 2022 Material Handling and Labor Rate Survey at