Recently, I spoke with Jessica Sibila, who’s the owner of Jessica Sibila Consulting, and the Executive Director of The Exhibitor Advocate. If you are unfamiliar with The Exhibitor Advocate that’s understandable. It’s brand new. However, the professionals spearheading this association have been championing the rights of exhibitors for many years.
For anyone who’s worked in the exhibit industry or participated in trade shows, you know it can be complicated, confusing, and often opaque, especially to exhibitors. They don’t always know their rights or how to dispute charges or even propose changes to a show. Collectively, they have the largest financial commitment to the success of a trade show but often the least amount of influence on how it’s priced, managed, and marketed.
The Exhibitor Advocate Mission
The Exhibitor Advocate is a newly formed non-profit organization dedicated to supporting exhibitor needs in the exhibitions and events industry. The group provides expert advice, research, and tools to act on behalf of all exhibiting companies, focusing on addressing challenges and pain points so that exhibitions and events remain a valuable and irreplaceable marketing channel.
Exhibitors are an essential part of the industry ecosystem; without them, we don’t have a trade show. In this post-COVID world, exhibitors are being challenged by exponentially rising costs, lack of data availability, and limited metrics and ROI. It’s important the industry understands the needs of the exhibiting community and works towards addressing these issues in order to sustain the industry for the future. We can no longer rely solely on the attendee to drive the success of a trade show. The exhibitor is a strategic partner in creating an event that is beneficial for all parties.
The Exhibitor Advocate amplifies the voice of the exhibitor. We are a powerful community that finally has a platform for sharing best practices and addressing challenges we face. We invite all industry stakeholders to join the cause and support The Exhibitor Advocate. Become a member or donate funds at ExhibitorAdvocacy.com. Together, we can ensure the enduring success of the exhibitions and events industry.
Too often, the terms “budget” and “portable” are used interchangeably for 10 and 20 ft. trade show displays. However, budget and portable have wildly different meanings depending on the manufacturer, distributor, or exhibitor. Budget can mean cheap, both in price and construction. Or it can mean value and quality.
Likewise, portables can mean tool-less and lightweight. But not always. Some portable displays require basic tools and pack in roto-molded rolling cases, which are convenient but not necessarily lightweight. These two terms are the trade show equivalent of egg-lingo – ex. cage-free, free-range, pasture-raised, and organic—where the exact meaning isn’t always obvious. .
Untangling the Budget Portable Ball of Twine
At Classic Exhibits, “Budget Portables” isn’t meant to be tricky or confusing. It’s actually very straightforward.
Budget. Price is a relative term, meaning our budget portables are less expensive than our other portables. These portables range in price from $3800 to $6100 and always include durable roto-molded cases with wheels, die-cut foam packaging for long-term convenience, numbered components for fast assembly, and detailed set-instructions.
Tool-less Assembly. Tool-less means no tools are required to assemble the booth. None. Some systems claim to be tool-less, except for the base plate or a literature tray or counter. Tool-less should mean tool-less.
SEG Dye-sublimated Graphics. SEG means Silicone Edge Graphics. SEG graphics have a silicone bead or welting sewn to the perimeter of the graphic. This bead fits into a channel on the aluminum frame. It should fit perfectly, which is why SEG is popular. No guesswork. Dye-sublimated is a printing process where images are transferred or sublimated into the fabric. It’s more expensive, but the colors are brighter and the end-product is more durable. Many vendors save money by directly printing on the fabric. It looks OK… for now. Long-term… not so much.
Engineered Aluminum Frames. Most budget portables are built with 1.25 in. round tubes. They’re lightweight, generally easy-to-assemble, and inexpensive. In short, they are graphic billboards. Our budget portables are structural, using aluminum extrusion. Unlike tubes, they are strong enough to hold accessories like monitors, tablets, literature trays, floating graphics, and workstations.
Lifetime Warranty on Workmanship and Made in the USA. Commitment and location matter. Lose a part? No problem. It’s replaceable, usually within a few days. Expanding or re-configuring your design? Again, no problem. The modular construction makes that simple.
Buying a budget portable via the Internet is like placing $3000 on 26 Black at the roulette table. You might win… but there’s a much greater likelihood of losing. Don’t gamble. Work with a professional trade show consultant. They know the pros and cons of most portable displays and can advise you on the best choice for your budget and your marketing goals.
Symphony Portable Displays
For too long, portable displays have sacrificed elegant design for visual simplicity. Not anymore.
With Symphony, you can create the perfect 10, 20 or 30 ft. display by selecting from stylish backwall shapes and distinctive counters and workstations. The mix and match flexibility encourages unlimited design possibilities. Need a different look for your next show? Symphony’s modular SEG frames are double-sided and re-configurable.
Personalize your Symphony Display with attractive counters, workstations, floating graphics, iPad clamshells, and monitor mounts. The lightweight aluminum frames are engineered for SEG dye-sublimated fabric graphics for a seamless, wrinkle-free look. Add floating graphics for additional visual layering and branding.
Perhaps no industry has been impacted by COVID more than trade shows and events. Restaurants switched to carry out and deliveries. Hotels and airlines still operated but with fewer customers. Trade shows and events came to a complete halt. This disruption impacted every segment of the trade show/event industry and the sales and marketing plans of tens of thousands of companies that attend or participate in face-to-face marketing.
The return of trade shows and exhibitions has meant new safety and health guidelines, not only for show organizers and convention centers but also for exhibitors. At Classic Exhibits, our 3D exhibit designers have created trade show booth designs that address those safety concerns by implementing greater physical distance, traffic flow patterns, plex barriers, and easy-to-clean surfaces.
6 Modern Trade Show Booth Design Tips for Safety
No one knows precisely what to expect about trade show design guidelines, such as whether show organizers and convention halls will have specific requirements for exhibitors or if standard North American Regulations will be revised. But you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Here are some commonsense suggestions.
1. Hand Sanitizer: Let’s start with the easy one. Yes, there will be hand sanitizer solutions both in the exhibit hall and in booths. Regardless of the booth size. However, you still have choices other than sticking an off-the-shelf stand in your booth. Consider how it can be integrated into the overall exhibit flow and graphics. While it needs to be there (and conveniently located), it doesn’t need to be a visual focus.
Tip: Consider jazzing up your sanitizers with custom colors, vinyl graphics, and counter-mounted dispensers.
2. Social Distancing: This topic is complicated. For your exhibit designer, it will affect every decision in your booth. How does the designer position meeting rooms, presentation areas, and demonstration spaces to be both effective and safe? Will the exhibit have seating? If so, how far apart do you need to place the furniture? Some areas may require dividers, such as acrylic partitions. Some exhibitors may decide on a larger space to ensure social distancing. Others may elect to remove items like counters, workstations, and storage.
Tip: Schedule demos and presentations by appointment only. You’ll be able to manage the flow and create a buzz before the show even opens.
3. Traffic Flow: Even before COVID-19, exhibit designers obsessed about traffic flow and the efficient use of space. Layer on safety and it’s gotten more complicated. Post-COVID exhibit designs may require more area segmentation allowing booth staff to meet with attendees away from other attendees. Think multiple workstations or counters with similar/duplicate information and functionality.
Tip: Consider a designated entrance and exit to your inline and island booth with one-way traffic flow.
4.Storage: We love to touch surfaces, fabric, and screens. That’s not about to change. And for many exhibitors the ability for customers to touch products or navigate through self-guided presentations is critical. However, those items will need to be sanitized throughout the show. Convenient storage of disinfectant sprays and wipes will make that easier and minimize visual clutter in the booth.
Tip: Just as important as cleaning supplies are waste baskets. Discuss with your designer how to integrate them into the look of your booth.
5. Technology: Expect QR codes, scanners, augmented reality, motion sensors, and LED screens to be more common in trade show booths. These technologies limit or eliminate touching a surface and many, like QR codes, allow attendees to use their own devices to gather information. How about printed media such as brochures, product sheets, and catalogs? Those will be exclusively digital, and the smarter exhibitors will have solutions to present and send that information in real-time.
Tip: Most lead retrieval systems are designed to do much more than just capture an attendee’s basic information. You probably already knew that… but may not have tapped into those capabilities in the past.
6. Hybrid Design Solutions: For the first time, exhibitors and designers will need to consider both a physical and a virtual booth. Should they be identical? Not necessarily. It’s much more important that there’s a clear marketing plan that addresses your goals. For most exhibitors, the virtual and physical goals will be the same so the branding, media, presentations, etc. will be identical. However, other exhibitors may decide to present a different message or experience for their virtual attendee vs. physical one.
Tip: Want to save time and money? Treat your Exhibit Designer like a member of your team. The more information they have, the greater the likelihood they’ll hit the mark designing your virtual and physical booths.
Trade Show Booth Design: COVID-19 Preparedness & Safety Plan
Most large convention centers are now GBAC STAR Accredited. The GBAC STAR Accreditation Program is performance-based and designed to help facilities establish a comprehensive program for healthy spaces. This includes strategies for infection prevention and cleaning for health that promotes wellness for building occupants, visitors, staff, and their community.
The GBAC STAR Accreditation program relies on a 20-element quality management program, which encourages a system based on science. Supporting the use of proper protocols, correct disinfection techniques, and cleaning for health best practices.
An accredited facility has committed to having:
Established and sustained a cleaning program to enhance occupant health.
The proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques, and work practices to nurture occupant health and meet any biosafety challenges.
Knowledgeable cleaning professionals who are trained to uphold the highest standards of cleaning and building maintenance.
These facilities often mandate those same protocols for vendors, exhibitors, and attendees. Exhibitors would be wise to consider the GBAC protocols when designing their booth, working with vendors like show labor, and training their staff for the show.
6 Safety-Conscious Booth Display Ideas & Examples
1. Rental Option A. Corporate events or meetings typically don’t have the same space limitations as trade show exhibits. Rental Option A is segmented into three functional spaces: stage/presentation, demos using monitors, and self-service genius bars with iPad tablets.
2. Rental Option B. Option B balances seating, demos, branding, and workstations while using the space efficiently. The graphics are large without being intrusive and allow for movement and privacy.
3. Rental Option C. For many companies, private meeting space is essential. Option C includes two large meeting rooms, along with a comfortable central waiting area. There are also (4) double-sided workstations for individual presentations.
4. MOD-1377 | Sanitizer / iPad Stand. Unlike the previous corporate meeting spaces, trade show exhibitors must maximize their booth. The MOD-1377 combines a hand sanitizer with an iPad stand and literature holders. This 3-in-1 approach makes it ideal for both inlines and islands.
5. MOD-9002 Hand Sanitizer Stand w/ Graphic. A hand sanitizer without branding is like pie with ice cream. It’s OK but it’s so much better with both. The MOD-9002 has a small footprint and switching graphics couldn’t be easier.
6. MOD-8036 | Flat Safety Dividers. Frankly, most safety dividers are ugly and fragile. Not the MOD-8036. The silver anodized frame along with etching and/or vinyl graphics elevates a simple divider into a tasteful barrier.
Buy or Rent aModern Trade Show Booth with Classic Exhibits
Classic Exhibits has been designing and building trade show solutions since 1993. We’ve worked hard to win many design awards and love to challenge our team with new and innovative designs. We take great pride in keeping our team, customers, and community safe and look forward to helping you design a modern trade show booth that not only prioritizes safety but helps you exceed your trade show goals.
It’s 2022 and trade shows and exhibitions in North America have returned much stronger than many predicted. As a result, exhibitors, display builders, labor providers, and show organizers are busy, sometimes crazy busy. One segment that’s seen a surge in growth is exhibit rentals, both exhibits and furniture. Exhibit Furniture Rentals in particular have transitioned from a “maybe” to a “must have” for both inline and island booths.
Why Should You Care About Exhibit Furniture Rentals?
Gone are the days of battered and basic furniture rental designs. Today’s designs are attractive, contemporary, and comfortable, and they are available in a variety of styles and colors. Rental furniture providers are committed to delivering quality products that are fashionable and pristine. Plus, their selection has improved, along with deeper inventories at most major convention and trade show venues.
Exhibit designers and exhibitors have also gotten more comfortable with adding furniture to booths. The right furniture can make a huge difference in the overall design, transforming a “nice and functional” island into an upscale destination for show attendees. Just 5-10 years ago, exhibit designers were reluctant to add conference tables, upholstered sofas, even ottomans and accessories to a booth. However, there’s been a push to offer attendees a place to relax, chat, and conduct business within the booth and designers have responded.
And it’s not just furniture. Trade show rental options include charging hubs, pillows, lamps, rugs, sanitizer stands, and even safety dividers.
Trade Show Furniture Rental Trends
The next time you attend a trade show or event, you’ll undoubtedly notice three trends: large fabric graphics, lightboxes, and furniture. These are trends not exclusive to island displays. Inline displays, both 10 ft. and 20 ft., are embracing these trends with rental furniture being the most surprising. Not long ago, a café or bar table with chairs in an inline space was uncommon. Not anymore. Inline exhibitors have embraced seating in their booth with many including comfortable chairs and sofas to create a casual meeting area.
Assuming rental furniture makes sense for your exhibit design, then what are the next steps? When possible, work with your exhibit designer. They have access to the designs from multiple furniture rental companies. They are also familiar with your booth design, graphics, and trade show marketing strategy. They can also assist you with ordering and scheduling the furniture to arrive in your space.
Trade Show Furniture Rental Sources
Some exhibitors may consider ordering their rental furniture from the General Show Contractor via the show book or the GSC’s website. And that’s a good option. However, GSC’s typically have a more limited selection than would be available from your exhibit house. Then there’s the cost. There’s a common misconception that ordering from the GSC will be less expensive. It’s not. In fact, it’s often more expensive. Furniture Rentals are a convenient and cozy profit center for them. Expert Tip: Start with your exhibit house and compare prices and service.
Of course, you can always buy furniture and ship it with your crates or cases. Can you save money by buying the furniture? Perhaps if you spread the cost over 3-4 shows. However, you’ll need to include the cost of shipping, materials handling, and labor (if it needs to be assembled) and damage. For most exhibitors, it’s not worth the hassle or the meager savings.
Popular & Affordable Rental Show Furniture
Easy is good. Easy and affordable is even better. Classic Exhibits has two comprehensive galleries of trade show rental furniture (Rental Furniture #1 and #2). The galleries are organized by the categories shown below and include prices. No guesswork. No navigating through a complicated and confusing website.
Review your options in each gallery. Then click to add them to a “My Gallery.” The My Gallery has a tool where you can email your selections to your exhibit house representative or send them to colleagues to review.
Rental Furniture Gallery #1
Accent Chairs: Comfortable, casual chairs perfect when paired together and with and end or seating table. See the Malibu or Lena designs as examples.
Soft Seating: Larger upholstered chairs, sofas, and sectionals with matching pieces. See the Emerald Velvet line as an example. Some include charging options.
Seating Tables: Cocktail, end, and side tables like the Geo Cocktail Table with a wood top and black metal base.
Ottomans: Colors galore in these fashionable round, rectangle, and curved ottomans.
Accessories: A nice selection of safety dividers, rugs. pillows, lamps, stanchions, and lecterns.
Rental Furniture Gallery #2
Cafe Tables: round cafe tables come in both fixed (typically 30” high) and adjustable heights in a variety of colors and finishes. See model CECA-022 with countertop colors in gunmetal, green, orange, yellow, and black.
Bar Tables: Similar to Cafe Tables but with a height of 40-42”. CEBT-036 is one of 18 designs
Group Seating: Mostly plastic cafe table seating in a range of colors and styles. The Malba (20″ L x 20″ D x 32″ H) is a green or gray stacking chair.
Conference Tables: Primarily oversized rectangle tables with round options as well. Some come with power ports like the CECT-033.
Conference Chairs: Mostly height-adjustable rolling executive or mid-back chairs with arms like the Cupertino Mid-Back.
Office Furniture: Desks, shelving, bookcases, and whiteboards.
Bars: Curved bars with or without accent lights. See the CEBR-002 Midtown Bar
Barstools: Stools for Bar Tables. 13 designs including the CEBS-019 in red, black, and white vinyl tops
Important Considerations About Event Furnishings
Design obviously matters but so does function and budget. Your event furnishings have a role to play in your overall strategy. Given the cost of booth space, you want every sq. foot to contribute to your goals and ROI.
Conference Room or Meeting Space. Most meetings in a booth don’t happen by accident. They are scheduled before or during the show. There’s no reason for a conference room unless you already have a plan for a full schedule of meetings with clients.
Casual Seating Areas. Guests in your booth will love these… so will the booth staff. If your product/service doesn’t require lengthy interactions with attendees and you anticipate a busy show, a casual seating area can be a distraction and create congestion. No one can resist a soft comfy chair, including your team. If they appear too relaxed, attendees will walk by and not engage your staff.
Say Something.. If you are unhappy with your rental furniture choice or the furniture arrived dirty or damaged, contact the rental furniture provider immediately. They want you to rent again at future shows and will generally do whatever they can to make you happy. Sometimes that means replacing a damaged piece the second day of the show or even removing furniture you thought would be necessary (but actually added clutter to the booth).
Cleanliness. While you don’t own the furniture or furnishings, you are still being judged by it. It arrived clean but it won’t stay that way. Wipe down the countertops each day and brush off the crumbs. Attendees don’t want to sit down at your bistro table only to discover wet coffee stains and sticky raspberry filling.
With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative close by. Contact us today whether you need a durable hand sanitizer stand built to last, a rental display guaranteed to attract trade show attendees, or a custom 30 x 40 exhibit with all the bells and whistles. We’re not just different. We’re better.
Nearly every industry has a trade show or trade shows, whether you’re in the road construction industry, medical devices, publishing, or shoe design and manufacturing. There are 1000’s of trade shows in North America each year and 100’s of thousands worldwide.
A subset of those trade shows is industrial trade shows. Those include shows for manufacturing, engineering, metal fabrication, wood products, machine tools, robotics along with a host of others. They include trade fairs like World of Concrete, IMTS, PackExpo, AHR Expo, and FabTech.
Getting Started with Industrial Trade Shows
Industrial trade shows are generally BIG. While they may not have more exhibitors or more attendees than non-industrial trade shows, the booth space for the larger exhibitors can be MASSIVE. So massive in fact that the show halls often extend into the parking lots for the large equipment manufacturers… Imagine cranes, dump trucks, helicopters, mining equipment, planes, and building materials.
Participating in these shows isn’t much different from other industry shows although the logistics along with the installation and dismantling requires more planning. That said, not all exhibitors are in 400 x 800 ft. islands. There are still exhibitors in 10 ft. and 20 ft. inline trade show displays with products and services critical to their industry.
Types of Industrial Shows
Aerospace and Aviation
Agriculture and Farming
Building and Construction
Energy/Oil and Gas
Material Handling, Logistics, and Shipping
4 Tips to Be Successful at an Industrial Trade Show
There’s no fairy dust or magic potion to ensure you’ll be successful at an industrial trade show. You already know your products and are an expert in your industry. You just need a beautiful booth and some eager salespeople, right? If that were true, then every exhibitor would be returning from a trade show with thousands of qualified leads. It takes the right attitude and a whole lotta planning.
#1. Do You Believe in Trade Shows?
You either do or you don’t. There’s no middle ground because exhibitors who “waffle” when it comes to trade show marketing are mostly wasting their money.
Trade shows are much more efficient than they used to be because most attendees no longer “walk” the floor. They “research” and “shop” the floor just like they would an online purchase. They’ve already decided which companies they’ll visit days, even weeks before their feet hit the aisle carpet. Getting them to your booth pre-show is more important now than luring them into your booth at the show.
#2. Do You Believe in Metrics and ROI?
Of course, you do. Imagine conducting a sales and marketing presentation without metrics. You love numbers and enjoy reciting them to others like parables from the Bible. You get visibly excited using a spreadsheet to compare Product A vs. Product B.
But, when it comes to your trade show marketing, you are like a four-year-old with blocks, counting the # of leads as an accurate measure of success. For most exhibitors, anything beyond that falls into quantitative voodoo. They don’t measure costs, return on sales or contribution margin per client. You need to set goals, both quantitative and qualitative, and measure them. That’s what adults do.
#3. Are You a Good Judge of People?
You should be. It’s required for anyone in sales and marketing. At every trade show, you are doing two things: meeting with customers and suppliers and evaluating your trade show staff.
Far too often, we are spectacular at the first and abysmal at the second. We view trade show staffing along the same lines as a wedding invitation — the more the merrier and we pray no one gets drunk and pukes in public. Train your team and hold them accountable. See #2 about metrics and ROI.
#4. Are You an Expert in Trade Show Marketing?
I won’t bother to feed your ego on this one. You aren’t. Not even close. You may be an expert at social media, SEO, print advertising, and closing techniques, but you probably have limited knowledge about exhibit design and trade show marketing.
That’s not to say you aren’t a marketing and sales genius, but trade show marketing is a specialized craft.
Be smart. Work with an exhibit house or trade show consultant. They will guide you on strategy, show services, ROI tracking, booth training, etc. They’ve seen all the painful mistakes exhibitors make that cost them money. Believe me … they want your trade show marketing to be wildly successful. That way you’ll add more shows to your schedule, you’ll purchase new exhibits, and you’ll tap into their other services
When it comes to metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing, FABTECH is the only event that makes it possible to see it all together and find the latest in manufacturing equipment. North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing event.
PACK EXPO International is the most comprehensive show for packaging and processing solutions for every industry, educational sessions, and networking opportunities. No other event showcases more technology—including product launches—or allows for collaboration with industry leaders across 40+ vertical markets.
CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the only event that connects experts from every major construction sector. Here, you’ll meet the people who make the machines, discover new technologies, and build relationships in the construction community.
OTC is a global event that connects offshore energy professionals from more than 130 countries to collaborate and discuss the challenges, solutions and changing energy landscape of the offshore energy sector.
The International Manufacturing Technology Show is the leading global marketplace to connect buyers and sellers of manufacturing equipment, products, and software through exhibitions, events, and partnerships to advance the industry and its businesses.
The AHR Expo provides a unique forum where manufacturers of all sizes and specialties come together to share ideas and showcase the future of HVACR technology. Since 1930, the AHR Expo has remained the industry’s best place for OEMs, engineers, contractors, technicians, facility operators, architects, educators, and other industry professionals.
World of Concrete is the industry’s annual international event dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry construction industries. Featuring indoor and outdoor exhibits with the industry’s leading suppliers showcasing innovative products and technologies, exciting demonstrations and competitions, and a world-class education program.
POWERGEN is the largest network and business hub for electricity generators and solution providers engaged in power generation. Power producers, utilities, EPCs, consultants, OEMs, and large-scale energy users gather at POWERGEN International to discover new solutions as centralized power generation business models evolve into cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.
The North American Farm & Power Show brings the industry’s leading innovators in agriculture technology, equipment, and science to the front step of America’s farming heartland. The North American Farm & Power Show serves as a midwestern hub for exhibitors to showcase their latest products and innovations.
The Utility Expo is the largest event for utility professionals and construction contractors in electrical transmission, electrical distribution, telecom, natural gas, vegetation management, water, and wastewater.
The International Woodworking Fair® is one of the world’s top events for the custom and general woodworking industries, bringing together the latest solutions in architectural woodwork, cabinetry, flooring, furniture manufacturing, engineered products, doors, windows, machinery, tools, metals, plastics and more.
The International Roofing Expo (IRE) is where residential and commercial contractors, remodelers, builders, distributors, architects, engineers, suppliers, and manufacturers from across the globe come together for education, product sourcing, and networking.
At MODEX 2022, the premier manufacturing and supply chain experience. Qualified buyers come from every state in the U.S. and over 140 countries to engage 1:1 with solution providers and supply chain experts.
The SEMA Show represents the $47.8 billion automotive aftermarkets. It is the only trade show that brings together every segment of the automotive industry, from hot rods and off-roads to mobile electronics and collision repair.
AAPEX is the premier event representing the more than $1.6 trillion global automotive aftermarket industry. Exhibitors and attendees can explore new products and technologies and connect with the industry’s top leaders, educators, innovators, and trainers.
Conquering Industrial Trade Shows with Classic Exhibits
With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative close by. Contact us today whether you need a durable hand sanitizer stand built to last, a portable display guaranteed to attract trade show attendees, or a custom 30 x 40 exhibit with all the bells and whistles. We’re not just different. We’re better.