Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Visionary Designs’

Visionary Designs Exhibits — Summer Sales Tips #8

July 20th, 2017 COMMENTS

Customization and Personalization

Many trade show exhibitors don’t consider a custom exhibit, either because of the expense or the design process. They view “custom” as large elaborate islands or heavy and complicated inlines. And custom exhibits can be all three. However, that doesn’t have to be true.

There’s also a perception that custom is always a “brand new” idea. In reality, many custom designs start from a previous successful design and are customized or personalized to fit the client’s trade show marketing goals. That’s the basic concept of Visionary Designs. Start with a successful design and then alter it to each client’s requirement.

The exhibitor ends up with a upscale, personalized exhibit at a price less than a “custom exhibit.”

To learn more, download the unbranded PDF version for Visionary Designs here. To listen to the bonus audio tip, click here.

Visionary Designs Exhibits


Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid 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

Magellan Portable Hybrid Displays

June 28th, 2013 COMMENTS

Whenever we conduct an Exhibit Design Search (EDS) webinar, we reserve 5 -10 minutes to review the Classic Hybrid product lines. We have five hybrid lines . . . well kinda. In reality, we have six or seven or even eight if you toss in the rentals, table tops, several Euro LT designs, and even Eco-systems Sustainable (which is a separate company but represented in EDS). It can be confusing.

The Classic distributors who attend Shared Knowledge University (SKU), our comprehensive training program, hear the history and the explanation of our hybrid lines. They always tell us that what was confusing, now makes sense. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll do my best to encapsulate the SKU review into a series of blogs about the Classic Hybrid lines. We’ll begin with Magellan.

What Makes a Magellan a Magellan?

Magellan Miracle Hybrid

Magellan Hybrid Displays was Classic’s third hybrid line, launched (if I remember correctly) in late 2008 or early 2009. I  remember very, very clearly why we created the Magellan line, and in particular, the Magellan Miracle. Several months into The Great Recession, sales of our existing hybrid lines, Visionary Designs and Perfect 10, had stalled. We were hearing from distributors that price, while always a factor, was now paramount. We knew we needed to react quickly, but we didn’t want to create a basic aluminum box with a graphic. It had to have “presence,” but be less expensive than a Perfect 10.

Many of you have heard me say the price of a hybrid is not complicated. There are three major elements:  the metal (size and shape of the profile, straight, or curved), the graphics (size and quantity), and the accessories and components. You can add a four element if you collectively include design, assembly, and packaging, which also contributes to the price. To reduce the cost of a hybrid, you use less expensive profiles, have fewer bends, smaller or fewer graphics, and limited accessories.

Z 45 Aluminum Extrusion

The Magellan line is (almost exclusively) built with the Z 45 profile. Why the Z 45? It’s relatively inexpensive, extremely versatile, and very attractive. In addition, our metal bending expertise allows us to bend it in both directions (what we call the hard and soft edges). That means the Z 45 can be used as both a horizontal and a vertical, and bent to create a variety of interesting shapes.


The Miracle was the first Magellan. Like the Perfect 10, it has two large fabric graphics, each 96 in. tall. And, like the Perfect 10, the verticals are curved. However, the Miracle has less extreme curves, fewer accessories, and a limited set of options. The Miracle, as with all Magellan Displays, is a “Knob-assisted Assembly” system, meaning that about 85% of the assembly uses attached knobs. Where a knob would be visible or impractical, a hex key tool is required. These changes allowed us to price it about $1300 less than a comparable Perfect 10.

Fortunately, the Miracle was an instant success. One distributor was so sold on the concept (and hungry for sales) that she based her entire quarterly marketing campaign on the Miracle. It saved her quarter and jumped started her year. The positive feedback encouraged us to create other Magellan designs, some with similar price points such as the MOR and the Magic. But we didn’t stop there. The versatility of the Z 45 meant we could design more intricate, more upscale, and more expensive designs such as the VK-1043 and VK-2056.

So, when should your client consider a Magellan Hybrid? There are two directions:

1. Limited Budget/Attractive Design

  • 10 ft. and 20 ft. Inlines
  • A budget that won’t stretch for a Visionary Design or a Perfect 10
  • Your client requests a portable system that they can assemble at the show
  • They want something more than a basic curve, box, or pop-up
  • They want large vibrant fabric graphics
  • They need a workstation for a monitor
  • Die-cut reusable foam packaging and numbered components
  • Examples:   Miracle, MOR, Magic

2. Larger Budget/Distinctive Design

  • 10 ft and 20 ft. Inlines
  • Larger, more flexible budget
  • Loves curves. Wants the booth structure to be unique
  • Likes the idea of portability, whether they need it portable or not
  • Needs counters, workstations, headers, multiple large fabric graphics
  • Die-cut reusable foam packaging and numbered components
  • Examples:  VK-1083, VK-1085, VK-2049, and VK-2045

Next time, we’ll review Perfect 10 Portable Hybrid Displays. That’s an interesting tale of what happens when you discover a major, untapped segment of the market that EVERYONE has ignored.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid 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


My Predictions for Late Summer and Fall: Word on the Street — July 2nd thru July 6th

July 8th, 2012 COMMENTS
My Predictions for the Late Summer and Fall: Word on the Street -- May 28th thru June 1st

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Gaze into My Crystal Ball

For the past four weeks, while we have been very busy with lots of traditional trade show work, we have also been working a lot on alternative markets we service through some of traditional and non-traditional distribution channels.

And while that is great! I have been looking at the activity over the past four weeks to get an idea of what the next busy season will bring from a trade show-only perspective.

Some Things I have Noticed

Islands seem to be the topic of the day. Larger properties are on the plates of our in-house and contract design teams. In particular, people are looking to even incorporate more ClassicMODUL double decks.

Now, I know that this time of year probably invites more “spec” projects than any other time of year, meaning projects that may not be as “real” as others. But truly, the projects we are working on are more “real” than in the past at this time of year. The number one qualifier of that statement is budgets. They are proper and inline with what an island display costs.

On the inline side of things, “custom” really seems to be the key characteristic.  Visionary Design Hybrids that are far from the typical Sacagawea, SEGUE, Perfect 10 or Magellan. Again, with budgets that are inline with the customer’s vision for their display.

To say this is refreshing for this time of year is an understatement. Traditionally, this time of year, as I mentioned before, we get a lot of “spec” work that may not be totally realistic from a budgetary standpoint. J You know what I am talking about –the 40’ x 50’ island full of tension fabric SEG, ClassicMODUL extrusions, totally customized, and enough A/V to make Disney/Pixar jealous . . . with a $50k budget.

"We met online but haven't met in-person yet. Is there a future for our relationship?"

Five Predictions:

  1. Islands Exhibits will be abundant!
  2. Custom Hybrid Inlines will be the topic of the inline world.
  3. Rentals are not going anywhere. They are still growing at a double-digit pace and a viable option for many clients at fall shows.
  4. Cost-effective Hybrid Inlines have become the replacement for the traditional upscale pop-up and other historic 10 x 10 options. With Sacagawea and SEGUE Sunrise starting in the $4k price range, why would you ever want a pop-up? And this from a company that sells two pop-up lines.
  5. Alternative markets are on the rise. Retail, museum and semi-permanent displays are not only a great fit for what we all do, but they are a viable year-round market with fewer cycles. We may not get the quantity orders, but the prototypes and the custom orders have high margins. Also, what you learn in these markets is often very applicable to the trade show market. See Past Five Days for several recent examples.

How about you? What are the leading indicators in your market? Are there any specific trends you are seeing from your customer base? Please share with other distributors via the comments section.

This is the time of year when I believe we have the greatest opportunity to carve out new trends and develop new products together that will ultimately help our clients trade show and event marketing experience.

Have a great week ahead! I’ll be in Chicago for the Red Diamond Congress.

–Kevin Carty

The ABC’s of Classic’s Hybrid Display Systems

September 18th, 2011 COMMENTS

Perfect 10 Hybrid Display

New distributors and account executives often ask, “What’s the difference between a Sacagawea Hybrid and a Perfect 10 Hybrid? Or a Magellan and a Visionary Design?” Can it be confusing? Absolutely! Classic Exhibits has six distinct hybrid lines:  Sacagawea, Magellan, Perfect 10/20, Visionary Designs, SEGUE, and Euro LT. Or to look at it another way, it’s more than any other systems manufacturer. Learn why there are so many and how they are truly different.


Over the past six years, we have significantly expanded our design offerings. In some cases, these new designs were prompted by internal market research; others were necessitated by outside market forces, such as distributor requests or more recently, The Great Recession. In the beginning, there were two Classic hybrid lines: Visionary Designs and Euro LT Modular.

About four years ago, we developed the Perfect 10/20. We did so to tap into an unmet price point, look, and functionality: namely, a $5000 to $9000 10 ft. custom portable hybrid that assembled without tools. There were no other products that combined custom hybrid design in that price range. It was a no brainer to attack this segment and an easy decision to market it as a distinct product line. It did very, very well, until . . . .

At the start of the recession, customers were looking for displays with lower prices and fewer bells and whistles. We introduced the Magellan Miracle and MOR. These are built entirely from one cost-effective extrusion – the ClassicMODUL Z 45. Magellan Displays look much different than either Visionary Designs or Perfect 10 kits and to bury them within those product lines didn’t make sense. Yes, they are still basically aluminum extrusion and tension fabric, but they were unique. Since then, we have expanded the line with more elaborate designs at higher prices, but the system continues to rely on the Z 45 for its frame.

That brings us to the Sacagawea. Go back two years. The Recession has gotten even worse. We are being asked for an even more cost-effective line – less expensive than the Perfect 10 and the Magellan. So, we went back to the drawing board and used the VK-1001 as our inspiration. The VK-1001 was our first hybrid in 2003. We took that basic idea, a square frame with wings, and re-designed it with smaller extrusions, portable assembly, and about 50 kit variations. Within the first month, sales exploded for Sacagawea and sales have grown every since. It continues to sell well even as our other hybrid lines have seen significant increases as well.

SEGUE VK-1900 Hybrid Display

Finally, there’s the SEGUE Hybrids. In the beginning, the SEGUE designs were added to the Visionary Designs line. There were only a few kits, and it didn’t make sense to create yet another hybrid line. However, over the past year, the SEGUE line has expanded as customers asked for silicone edge graphic solutions. We found ourselves having to guide distributors to the SEG designs within Visionary Designs, which was inefficient and confusing. Distributors were requesting more and more SEG solutions and wanted one SEG gallery with inlines, lightboxes, and hanging wall solutions. So, we removed them from Visionary Designs and gave them their own gallery to make it easier for everyone.

What Makes Them Different?

It’s actually very logical. It’s based on design, price, and function. But let’s make this even easier, let’s focus on price as the driver for Sacagawea, Magellan, Perfect 10, and Visionary Designs. We’ll explain Euro LT and SEGUE a little later.

Hybrid Display prices are based on six basic factors:

  1. Size of the extrusion (larger extrusions cost more)
  2. Whether the extrusion is straight or curved (curves cost more)
  3. Size and number of graphics
  4. Type and number of accessories
  5. What options are included in the base price
  6. Assembly (knob, locking hex key, or slide clip)

Let’s start from the least expensive to the most expensive lines. Note that as the complexity of the system and size of the graphics increases, so does the price.

Sacagawea VK-1222 Portable Hybrid

Sacagawea Portable Hybrids:

  • Smaller extrusions, such as the S 40
  • Mostly straight metal
  • Typically one tension fabric graphic
  • Common accessories
  • Three laminates, nine sintra/acrylic, silver aluminum
  • Quick assist knobs and locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  VK-1231

Magellan Portable Hybrids:

  • One primary extrusion, the Z 45
  • Curved and straight metal
  • One or two larger tension fabric graphics
  • Common or unique accessories
  • Three laminates, nine Sintra/acrylic, silver aluminum
  • Quick assist knobs and locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  VK-1065

Perfect 10/20 Portable Hybrids:

  • Multiple smaller extrusions
  • Mostly curved metal
  • Two larger tension fabric graphics
  • Extensive accessories
  • Three laminates, nine Sintra/acrylic, seven powder coat colors
  • All knob assembly
  • Example:  VK-1506

Visionary Designs VK-2044 Hybrid

Visionary Designs Hybrids:

  • Full line of extrusions and designs
  • Curved and straight extrusions
  • Unlimited graphic options
  • Unlimited accessories
  • Wide assortment of laminates, Sintra/acrylics, powder coat colors
  • Locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  VK-2044

SEGUE and Euro LT Hybrids, unlike those listed above, are categorized by function rather than by price. For example, our least expensive hybrid kit is the SEGUE Sunrise (starting at $2833). One of our higher priced 10 ft. kits is the SEGUE VK-1901 (at $12,458).

SEGUE Hybrids:

  • Relies on Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG) and ClassicMODUL TSP Extrusions
  • Curved or straight extrusions
  • Graphic options depend on kit or design
  • Accessories depend on kit or design
  • Wide assortment of laminates, Sintra/acrylics, powder coat colors
  • Quick assist knobs and locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  VK-1900

Euro LT LTK-5014 Custom Modular Hybrid

Euro LT Custom Modular Hybrids:

  • Based on Euro LT laminate panel system
  • Extrusion complements the laminate panels
  • Graphic options depend on kit or design
  • Accessories depend on kit or design
  • Wide assortment of laminates, fabrics, Sintra/acrylics, powder coat colors
  • Euro LT clips and locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  LTK-5014

If this still doesn’t make much sense, then give me a call. I’ll be happy to walk you through the basics in a 15 minute GoToMeeting session.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid 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.

First-Timer Stories: Word on the Street — July 18th thru July 22nd

July 24th, 2011 COMMENTS
First Timers

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Stranger in a Strange Land

Three months ago, we embarked on a new relationship with an IT vendor, and it has been nothing short of stellar. The vendor, Convergence Networks, has quickly vaulted into one of our best relationships. because they are responsive, knowledgeable, and totally customer focused.

Last month, Convergence came to Classic Exhibits asking for our assistance. They had agreed to be the main sponsor of a business-to-business event organized by the Portland Business Journal. This would be their very first trade show of any kind, which made their sponsorship commitment even scarier. Needless to say, we were delighted to guide them through the maze that is trade shows.

It proved to be an interesting experience for both Mel and me. Like many veterans of this business, we tend to forget what it must be like going to your first event. What we have all come to assume as second nature is actually totally foreign to those new to the game. Just having to traverse through all the rules, regulations and complexities that come with attending a show meant learning a new language and a new business model for them, one that doesn’t always seem transparent and logical.

Confused by Trade ShowsFor example, navigating your way through the exhibitor manual can be daunting. Recall the first time you read through that manual and attempted to complete those forms. It’s a nightmare. At one point, I asked Convergence if they knew how much electricity would be provided for their booth, which was the largest space in the show. Had we not asked, they would have had just enough juice to power a Crest Spinbrush or a cell phone charger.

Even for us, there were surprises like the move-in and move-out schedule. Except for Convergence, everyone had a 10 x 10′ (but more on that in a moment). We built them a 10 x 20 Visionary Designs Hybrid Exhibit with two computer counters along the front aisle. All packed into a small crate. You can imagine our surprise when we noticed that the move-in was limited to 5-7 p.m. and that there were no drayage services! This important fact was not shared with them when they paid for their sponsorship. Maybe show management thought that they could conjure up a display using a magical incantation and then levitate it into their show space. 🙂

Anyway, I am not beating anyone up here. In reality thanks to DWA Tradeshow Service (the general contractor) everything came together very nicely. And Convergence was the class act of the show by having a custom hybrid exhibit with tension fabric graphics, counters, lighting, and carpet. Everyone else had banner stands, posters hanging from the pipe and drape, or a pop up. They were the McMansion on a street of manufactured houses. Convergence really stood out as the title sponsor, which brought them lots of leads. The owner told me that he expects to recoup his investment many times over and put much of the credit on their “presence” at the show.

Please share your example(s) of helping a First Timer with their first trade show experience. What did they learn (or not learn) and how did those experiences influence how you assist other First Timers. I know you “old timers” have many humorous, painful, and interesting stories to pass along to the Classic Distributor Network.

Have a safe and restful weekend.

–Kevin Carty