Trade Show Tips
Our 100 man years of experience condenced into most useful
Trade Show Tips for successful exhibiting in the US
1. An experienced company that builds custom trade show exhibits will know how to plan their production schedule such that you save maximum costs on advance warehousing and show services. They will book all show services in advance and ensure that your booth is transported to the show floor warehouse to take maximum advantage of advanced warehousing.
2. While exhibiting in the USA, you must have encountered this elephant of a cost called drayage. Drayage is calculated on the weight and volume of the packaged booth when it enters the fairground. A reputed trade show exhibit company who deals in customized exhibition booth designs will build and pack your exhibition booth design in such a way that it attracts minimum drayage.
3. This last point needs real experience to execute, however, it can be a major cost saver when it comes to exhibitions. An experienced agency will know how to combine a modular structure into a customized booth design to make it more cost effective. Modular structures are light weight and reusable making them less expensive to their customized counterparts that are ‘made to order’. For example, if a client doesn’t mind then we make their pantry from a modular structure (as that is for internal use only) and make the rest of the design customized as per requirements. This reduces structure cost, fabrication costs, labor costs and even show services cost and it doesn’t impact the look of the design at all.
Once you have decided to exhibit in a trade show one of the most important decisions you have to take is to finalized a partner who will understand your requirements and give a solution that fits your design brief as well as your exhibition budget. Here are 3 tips to help you find an exhibition booth rental company that will add value to your brand.
1. Choose a company that has enough experience under their cap. Exhibiting in USA is very different from exhibiting across the world. The systems and the organizers work differently here and you need an experienced exhibition booth design and setup agency who knows how to navigate these rules. They need to have enough knowledge about how exhibit rental systems work, what design possibilities do they have, what is the installation complexity and is it compliant with the material laws set out by the organizer.
2. Choose an agency with the design edge. In Europe when you walk across a show floor each booth looks absolutely different from its neighbors. This is because Europe believes in customized exhibition booths. However, come home to the USA, and you will realize that most structures are similar to each other. They are made of metal and fabric and might have slightly different shapes and effects but they look like they come from the same family. This is because USA opts for modular exhibit rental structures that make for easy to install exhibition booths. So we highly recommend to select an agency who knows how to use these structures to create unique designs. Designing is an artist’s job and not everyone can do it. However, on the show floor your design can really make you stand out.
3. Choose an exhibition booth rental company that is close to the fairground. This point is specially for exhibitors who are making a complex booth like a double decker booth or a 100% customized booth. Complex booths require a lot of attention and backup planning. What will happen if a glass panel breaks, what will happen if the graphic media falls short or if you need more lights, a support truss or more furniture? These things are common on the fairground and you don’t want to go scouting for them last minute. Ensuring that your booth setup company is close to the fairground will keep you assured that these last minute requirements will be quickly addressed.
4. Choose an agency that provides onsite support. Many exhibit rental companies install structures and leave the fairground, never meeting the client even once. However, this might be ok for a 10×10 exhibit but if you have a larger exhibition booth then you need an agency representative to check everything with you before you take charge of the booth. We believe that onsite support is crucial for all sizes of exhibition booths and exhibitors. So always select an agency that has a representative onsite who can help you with that light which is not working on the 1st day of the show, or can get you your florals, or has a backup key in case your pantry gets locked, and so on. So that you are not running around when the most important thing you should do is greet the people on your booth.
1. Let the light in!
For an exhibition booth to be attractive it has to be well lit. Lighting plays a big role in inviting people into your booth and also ensuring that the employees in your booth feel motivated to do their job. A dimly lit booth is sleepy and avoided by visitors; a well-lit booth on the other hand is inviting and warm. For exhibition booth lighting we would recommend LED lighting that is economical, eco-friendly and elegant.
2. Go green, literally!
It would do you well to invest in live planters for your exhibition booth. You can take a step ahead and can make a live wall of foliage and flowers. Plants add warmth to the exhibition booth and make people feel comfortable and welcome. If your booth is too small for elaborate designs, then always have a good flower vase at your reception.
3. Make the smile meet the eye!
While you make so many investments into creating the correct exhibition experience for your guests, do not ignore the most important one – the people on your booth. No one will compliment your exhibition booth design or hospitality arrangements if they feel the person attending to them in the booth is not up to the mark. So bring your best people to the booth. People who are genuinely interested in customer queries and solving them. People who know how to listen and give solutions that are practical, feasible and on time. These people might be a bit more expensive than your contracted hosts and hostesses but they will be a value add to your business.
4. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!
Keep your booth simple, open and inviting. Do not have too much clutter. People tend to move away from booths that are too busy, have too much character or have too busy elements. Follow this rule for your trade show graphics designing as well – speak to the point with impactful images rather than saying too many things.
5. Don’t impress only your clients mind, impress his/her stomach also!
In the USA exhibition booths do not generally have hospitality areas. If you have the budgets and if the show is really important for you, then we would highly recommend having a good hospitality counter with some finger foods, beverages and 2 service people. Doing this will make visitors spend more time on your booth and make them more relaxed and comfortable to have open conversions.
You invested in buying the best exhibition booth space, creating the best exhibition booth design and even got your best people onto the booth. Why? Because you know that your exhibition booth will get you your future business. Here are 7 ways to make your prospects on the booth into your clients.
1. Greet your guests with a smile. Your trade show booth is for business transactions, however, your approach towards your customers should not be transactional but open and friendly.
2. Be genuinely interested in your guest’s queries. By genuine interest we mean that you must listen to what your customer is saying. Listening goes a long way in ensuring that the person feels understood and important. So value his/her query and listen to them with your full attention.
3. Resolve the query with the correct information. Once you understand and hear out your prospect, try to give them the information they want on the spot. Be concise with the information and if you need assistance from a senior person then try to get it right away.
4. Make your guest comfortable. Make them sit across the table, ask them if they would like a beverage or snack and then once they have their cuppa in their hand start the business talk.
5. Invest in unique give-aways. You probably know that give-aways are also called memorabilia, and indeed for the right reason. They help people remember who gave it, what it stands for etc. So always give something unique which will help your prospect remember you and your brand days after the show.
6. Set the follow-up date. When you complete the interaction with your prospect make a note of when you can call them next and take ahead the conversation. This will make them feel valued and in return they will reciprocate the same.
7. Do not push your products too much. You might not have the perfect solution for everyone, so do not push your products to everyone just to make a sale. If you genuinely know that your product is the fit for the customer then go ahead and seal the deal, however, if you know that someone else has the ideal solution for his/her requirement then it would be best to recommend that. This will make your client feel you are honest and you might lose the client but gain a friend who will do business with you in the future.
- 1. Highlight your brand USP
Why are you different from the 1000 other exhibitors on the show floor who have put up their exhibition booth and displayed their products? This is one of the key questions that is in the minds of all the people who walk into your trade show exhibit. So ensure that you have weaved this answer into the scripts that you have prepared for the people who are manning your exhibition booth.
2. Understand the products on display very well
Everyone in your exhibition booth should know about the new product or the most important products that you are exhibiting at a particular trade show. People will walk-in with curiosity about this product and hence complete knowledge about how the product will help the customer is very important.
3. Communicate the company’s focus on quality
Today everyone might not be brand conscious, but everyone is quality conscious. If you ever give a client anything that is sub-par they will make sure to tell at least a 100 people about it. So make your exhibition booth staff talk about the quality of your products, processes and services and become an embodiment of the quality of people that work for you.
4. Give examples of happy customers
Happiness is contagious. People want to work and associate with happy people. So, as a tactic, try to weave in a story about a happy customer and how you have served them well over time. This will show credibility, dependability and give confidence to your prospect about your company.
1. Decide how much you can spend
Your exhibition booth design can guzzle up your marketing budget if you do not decide and define how much you will spend on it. Starting form simple 10×10 exhibits and going up to the largest trade show booths on the show floor, be assured that every exhibitor has set a budget in their mind. This budget is a guiding light as to how much can be spent on exhibit rentals, demonstrations of products, integration of technology, team F&B and stay, trade show give-aways and other ancillary decisions related to participating at global trade shows.
2. Select a structure that highlights your products on display
If you are a product heavy company who needs to showcase the categories and ranges of products that you offer, then it is best to let the display opportunities within the exhibit rental structure guide your choice for finalizing an exhibition booth design. The structure should be such that it highlights your products and compliments them rather than over-powers them.
3. Make the choice between exhibition booth design with rigging v/s without rigging. Based on the size and location of your exhibition booth you can opt for rigging or avoid it completely. Many exhibit rental structures have rigging as part of their design. Rigging adds height to the booth and is perfect for branding. It ensures that your fascia is visible from a distance and it can even be used to light the booth below. However, all booth spaces are not permitted rigging.
10×10 exhibit – rigging not permitted
10×20 exhibit – rigging not permitted
10×30 trade show booth – might or might not be permissible depending on venue
20×20 trade show booth – rigging permitted
20×30 trade show booth – rigging permitted
30×30 trade show booth – rigging permitted
All other larger sizes – rigging permitted
Remember that rigging is often expensive and hence you need to set aside some budget for this if you opt for an exhibit rental design which uses rigging facilities.
4. Do a study of the kind of exhibit rental structures available in the market
There are many kinds of structures available on rent for making your trade show booth design. You need to decide which one works best for your purpose. Would a simple pop up trade show booth work? Do you need a made to order, custom trade show exhibit? Or will one of the modular and portable displays serve your purpose? A study of these structures and how they look will help you understand which one is aligned to your brand language and trade show objectives. Once you experience such a structure and like it you can also decide to buy it instead of just renting it for future trade shows.
Your graphics decide the appearance of your booth. They are like the clothes the booth wears. Hence, they are extremely important and play a vital role in deciding the overall getup of your exhibition booth design. Here are 5 tips for designing trade show graphics.
1. Size does matter. Make your trade show booth graphics as large as possible. You can explore using walls from one end to the other for a single graphic. Large fabric graphics that adorn the length and breadth of your booth are trendy today and they look so impressive that they will replace conventional vertical graphics and standees forever.
2. Have a balance of content. Just because you have a large canvas to play does not mean that you should fill in every inch of it with information. Keep the message subtle and simple. Do not write too much on the graphic. Have a punchline that works and good quality brand or product imagery that can attract the attention of your visitors.
3. Place your graphics facing high footfall areas like prominent aisles of fairground entry points. Important graphics should get the impressions! So if you ensure that you place them correctly within your exhibition booth design then you will get maximum benefit from them.
4. Shine the lights on the graphics! Backlit graphics are now hygiene factors on any booth. Gone are the days of arm lights and tarpaulin prints. When it comes to trade shows and exhibition booths in the USA backlit graphics are most preferred. They look bright and attractive and you must invest in them.
5. Remember that your rigging is also your graphical opportunity. Trade show graphics are not restricted to walls of the exhibit. Your rigging is your most important graphic. You should design it to include the company logos and also some important message that can set you apart from your competitors.
1. Keep the headline and message very crisp
Do not confuse your graphic with your brochure. Your graphic does not need your product list, or material specifications, or technical information. Your graphic needs to answer the question about what problem you are solving in your customers lives. So make it human centric instead of product centric.
2. Focus on the font size
Even seasoned exhibitors make the mistake of thinking that trade show booth graphics are for people inside the booth. No, they are not. They are for the people on the aisle, they have to rouse their curiosity and urge them to come inside the booth and start a conversation. So ensure that your graphic is readable from a minimum of 12-15 feet.
3. Use eye-catching and pleasing images
Your product might be about acne or hair fall but you don’t have to show the imagery of that. You need to show images that a customer likes to associate with himself/herself. So use imagery that is pleasant, happy and vibrant always.
4. Contract an expert graphic designer for designing your trade show graphics
You always look for professionals when it comes to your exhibit rental company, F&B agency, manpower on the booth, etc., so do not settle for anything less when it comes to the designing of your booth graphics. Contract a designer who can understand your brand and make a graphic that is in line with your brand personality.
5. Always follow your brand manual
When you think of a brand you always think of a particular imagery, colour scheme, font, and so on. This is because brands maintain consistency. So Google has a particular brand language so does Pepsi and so does Mercedes. So in a bid to do something extraordinary do not violate your brand manual. To build a brand takes time and consistency and you should follow that guideline when it comes to your trade show graphics design.
Once you have made an informed decision and selected an exhibition design and booth setup agency, you obviously trust them to deliver what they have presented. However, it would do you good to keep a check and ask them these 10 important questions that will help you understand your exhibition booth design better.
1. “Structure Details: Height, sizes, materials, types of graphics used and samples of important or unique materials
2. Graphic file containing graphic sizes and print media specifications
3. Logo file detailing the kinds of logos on the booth with their sizes
4. Product display details and dimensions
5. Checklist of selected furniture with quantity
6. Complete pantry plan with consumables within the pantry
7. Complete lighting plan with probable power consumption
8. Built-up time table and time for completion and handover of the trade show booth
9. Dismantling plan and schedule
10. Coordinates of production supervisor and client servicing person onsite.
From the various exhibition booth designs that you browse online and that your agency prepares for your trade show participation, you can execute only 1 at each trade show. So what are the critical elements or parameters by which you can differentiate a good booth design from one that is not up to standards?
1. Have an open, warm and welcoming structure. Not a heavy or highly closed-in one
2. Have adequate opportunities for graphical communication
3. Have space for prominent and effective product demonstrations on your exhibition booth
4. Check the lighting plan and insist on using white LED lighting for your design
5. Have a pleasant reception desk placed facing the most busy aisle of your exhibition booth to attract visitor attention and to handle queries
6. If you can then allocate a budget for a good F&B service on the booth. Ensure that the F&B area is designed in such a way that it is comfortable, open and encourages people to sit around and talk
7. Check the pantry plan and space so that you can fit all your luggage into this area and it does not lay around the exhibition booth
8. Last but not the least, see that your trade show booth design complies with your brand manual and guideline in terms or imagery, messaging, colour scheme and design.
Your trade show booth might be small or large in comparison to other booths in the exhibition, but it is restricted to the boundaries that define your space. So how does one increase or maximise the space without pushing the boundaries? Dynamic content is the answer. Where you could previously show 1 graphic or do 1 communication, with dynamic content you can communicate various graphics with the same space. Here are some of the benefits of dynamic LED content for your trade show booth.
1. Dynamic content = Lively exhibition booth
With something changing continuously, your booth becomes very stimulating and alive. You can place multiple graphics in the same LED and play them one after the other. Or you can use the help of a visual jockey to create some stunning and eye-catching content.
2. Products can be shown in their environment
A large format LED screen playing your product pack-shots is sure to get the attention of the visitors. However, if you show the products in their environment then it can wow your visitors. For example, if your product comes from nature then you can show imagery of forests, waterfalls, mountains, etc and show the source of your product. This environment always adds to the product value.
3. Break the language barrier
The content on your LED need not have much text. It can be imagery based and this is one of the best advantages that dynamic content has over static content. Your traditional trade show graphics have textual information which definitely has a language barrier but your LED content is all about pictures and emotions and need not necessarily need written words.
4. Dynamic content = Distance Visibility of your trade show booth
An LED wall or video wall placed at a height in your exhibition booth, or better still rigged to the ceiling of your booth is sure to attract attention and make visitors gravitate towards your exhibit.
5. Give your company a Technology Savvy Look
While LED walls are common in exhibitions today, they are not done by all exhibitors. They are yet to become a hygiene factor in the exhibition stand designing industry. Until they do, your company will have an edge above the others by creating a large dynamic wall. It will make the visitors feel that the company has a modern outlook and is in tune with the latest technology.
1. Start with defining the quantity:
Make a checklist of the quantity of the furniture you think your trade show booth will require. You will have to keep in mind booth space and number of visitors expected to be there in the booth at any given time.
2. Select between furniture options:
Your trade show company will give you a furniture catalogue to select furniture from. See that you select furniture that is comfortable, but not too bulky. Bulky furniture will eat up your booth space and will also be expensive to transport and move around. Look for options that are cushioned and stackable.
3. Use couches for waiting areas:
You must have noticed that often outside meeting rooms there are lounges that serve as waiting areas while the meeting rooms are occupied. You should definitely consider couches for these areas. Couches ensure that your client is comfortably seated while awaiting the meeting.
4. Use only good quality furniture:
Do not settle for furniture that is chipped, torn or shabby. Use simple furniture, but use good quality furniture. If your customer notices anything on your booth that is sub-par then he/she will subconsciously associate that with your products and services as well.
5. Deciding table diameter:
It is best to use high tables in the front of your exhibition booth for quick meetings and rent medium diameter tables for your open discussion areas. These tables should have enough space for 2 people to keep their laptops and notebooks along with a cup of coffee. Lastly, if possible, select opaque table tops and not transparent glass ones. Women tend to be more comfortable with these.
You might be a 1 exhibition a year company or a 1 exhibition a month company. If you are the latter then this one’s for you.
A seasoned exhibitor knows that not all trade shows are equally important, each one has its limitations in terms of visitors and business potential. However, it is important to be present at these trade shows to establish a brand presence and build recall value in the minds of the industry.
For companies who do many trade shows with exhibition booth sizes under 20×20 square feet,it is most economically viable to rent or even buy a modular display solution that fits all the exhibition spaces. Essentially the structure is the same, while the graphics change as per requirements of the client.
So if you are considering a modular display solution for your repeat trade shows then:
1. Try to book a similar space in terms of size, and number of sides open, for all your exhibitions. This will aid the use of the modular structure for all the shows and save you significant costs.
2. Consider buying off the structure from your exhibit rental agency such that they will just charge you for warehousing and installation.
3. If you are not buying the structure and prefer renting it then try to do a bulk deal for multiple shows at the same time. This can save you up to 30% of costs as compared to single show deals.
The google search on ‘trade show exhibit rentals in Las Vegas’ reveals over 150 results in just a second! If there are so many companies in one city, imagine the amount of trade show exhibit companies that are there in the USA! As an exhibitor you might be looking for parameters on which you can shortlist and potentially finalise a company for your next trade show. Here are a few points you can consider.
- Define the budget for your trade show booth
Your budget will define what scale of agency you can contract. If you have a big budget for a small space and want to do something bespoke then you can consider boutique agencies that focus on customised work. If you have a limited budget and want to put up a sophisticated and simple booth then you can look for an exhibit rental agency that provides innovative trade show booth structures on rent.
- Decide between a global agency or a local agency
When it comes to trade show booth designing you can contract a large global agency that builds over 400 exhibition booths every month, or you can contract a local agency that is content with building 10-15 trade show booths every month. What we have noticed is that very large companies lose personal touch with the client since they are people who play in volumes. They have simple standard structures that they have mastered the setup of and use these regularly. If you need personal attention and want to build a customized exhibition booth then you should go for a mid-sized experienced agency who can ensure personal attention and unique designs.
- Do a secondary research on the company
You can look for trade show companies that are close to the fairground that you are exhibiting at. When you study these companies you should primarily check out 2 parts of their website:
- Their portfolio – to see if they have executed complex booths before and to check their quality of execution
- Their design capabilities – to see if they can do something unique for your booth to make it stand out from the rest.
This research will help you atleast make a shortlist of the trade show display rental companies around you.
- Talk to a senior person within the company
Do not skip this last step. You need to talk to someone at the company who is senior enough to give you confidence in their booth building capabilities. Talking will give you a lot of clarity when it comes to the companies products, services, people, processes and most importantly delivery.
Customized exhibition booth designs are complex structures that are ‘made to order’ and hence they need to be supervised with a precise eye. Modular or exhibit rental structures on the other hand are standard structures that are tried and tested and hence they do not require stringent supervision. If you are making a complex structure then these 10 tips will help you get the best quality of execution from your custom trade show booth manufacturer.
1. Be involved from day 1: It all starts with the correct brief. So be involved all the way from the briefing stage and till the production stage. Giving the correct brief and giving objective design feedback is the first and most important step to getting the correct custom trade show booth design.
2. Treat your service provider as a team: Your exhibition booth design company is building the booth for you. So you should make them part of your team instead of trying to direct or boss them. If you trust their booth building capabilities and their policies then you just need to explain to them your vision for the trade show.
3. Ensure that you give timely approvals: Your approval on small and big things starts a whole wheel of work beyond it. Once you approve, procurement starts, material planning starts and production starts. Try to give approvals on time so that there are no delays.
4. Give your graphic designs on time and in the correct format and resolution to your agency. This will ensure that their experts will have time to check the graphics, do colour corrections and test prints and give you the perfect output.
5. Trust the booth setup company when it comes to production details. Even if you are a seasoned exhibitor building 10 trade show booths every year, your booth setup company has more experience when it comes to booth building.
6. Do not give last minute changes. This spoils the whole production schedule and can cause stress in the booth setup team. Take time to give the approvals but make them final post that.
7. Ensure that you always give payments on time. Your booth setup company needs the payments to build your booth itself. So ensure that you pay on time so that they can start procurement of materials and people well within time.
8. Onsite time is critical for your booth setup company, do not disturb them at that time. They have to create the whole booth in a matter of days, so it’s best to let them work as per their schedule and not interfere unless something is amiss.
9. Do not push the onsite booth setup company to work faster. People tend to consider your exhibition booth progress with that of other neighbouring booths, then they panic and try to push the onsite company. If you trust your partner and things seem in place do not push the company to work faster as it can impact the overall finishing of the booth.
10. Always give objective feedback to your exhibition booth design company. You will have many opportunities to give your feedback, from the design stage to sample stage to production stage. Ensure that your feedback is objective and solution oriented.