Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

Booth Design

How to Plan for When Things Go Wrong at the Tradeshow

No, things don’t always go wrong when exhibiting at a tradeshow, but when they do, it can throw you and your team for a loop. The best way to deal with what happens when things go wrong is plan for them to go wrong.

Obviously, you can’t game out every scenario. But you can at least anticipate a few things, right?

One way to see what things might possibly go wrong is to read Exhibitor Magazine’s Plan B column, a monthly ‘you-are-there’ description of actual events where things went wrong. Sometimes terribly. But you get to see the creative ways in which people dealt with an unexpected circumstance.

What are some of the things that can go wrong? How about a missing shipment, where only part of your exhibit shows up? Or new graphics are printed but you haven’t had a chance to review them or test them on the exhibit frame because, you know, timing? Or finding out that your booth space wasn’t where it was supposed to be and wasn’t as big as planned.

Frankly, a million things can go wrong and the hardest part of dealing with something unexpected is that you’re in an unfamiliar place. And you may be setting up on a weekend, or in a different time zone and you can’t reach the people you normally would rely on.

And of course, the time crunch of making things happen in short order because the show will open on time whether you’re ready or not.

A few things that I believe can make a difference: knowing who to call. Knowing your vendors or shippers on a first name basis. Having cell phone numbers of critical people who can make things happen quickly, like printers, exhibit makers and more.

Things often go wrong at a tradeshow…how do you handle it?

Another common denominator is that most of the problems take place early on during setup, which means making sure all of your vendors are on alert for anything from late night phone calls to early morning emails to deal with situations that arise.

One way to head off potential problems is to get ahead of the game as much as possible. Get graphics designed sooner than you might normally plan. Get them produced and fitted ahead of time. Set up the exhibit prior to packing it for shipping to make sure all pieces are there and still fit; we all know that exhibits are packed away quickly and that some things get broken or bent or torn and no one will notice until it’s too late. Which means that one of the best things you can do is go through your exhibit crates on a slow day shortly after they return from the show. It’ll give you a chance to take the time to confirm that all is as it should be or uncover potential issues way before you’re under a time crunch.

Bottom line: be as prepared as possible before things ship and have contact info for all of the players at your disposal (and have a full-charged phone or a portable power pack!). And if all of those plans don’t head off a problem, work with the creative people in your setup crew and booth staff. Putting heads together instead of trying to solve everything on your own is probably the best way to work your way through a difficult and stressful unexpected problem.

Tradeshow Exhibit Customization Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

When I first speak with a new client about what they want in a new tradeshow exhibit, it usually comes down to one of two approaches. Either they want to start from scratch, in a sense, and have a good idea of the potential layout and scope of the exhibit, and they have a budget number in mind. Or, and this is the other extreme, they want to pick out a kit from our catalog and make do, mainly to save budget dollars.

There’s nothing wrong with either approach. Every company has a different agenda when it comes to a new exhibit.

The former approach means everything is custom from the git-go. A designer is brought in, conversations are had about brand attributes and guidelines, and the designer is basically turned loose. These are typically the bigger budget projects where, from the start, the designer is encouraged to cut loose, to try several approaches and show a number of structures with different traffic flow patterns, demo areas, meeting areas and so on. From that, the client decides on one (or two) that work best for them, and the design is refined until it’s ready.

The other approach, where the client is typically working with a more limited budget, starts with a kit from our Exhibit Design Search at TradeshowBuy.com. More often than not, the client believes that the kit as shown in the renderings is the final design.

That rarely happens. Once the conversation starts, the questions begin. Can we add a counter? What about shelves? We need shelves. And something to sit at. And that panel isn’t big enough, what if we made it bigger.

The answers are yes, yes, and yes. Kits get customized, almost all the time. With new clients, there is a bit of a learning curve, but once they realize that even if they start with a kit, that doesn’t mean they’re stuck with everything that’s show. Kits are good starting points to get what clients really want, which is most often a customized version.

A good thing to keep in mind when starting from scratch, especially if your budget is pointing you in the direction of a kit. That kit can be revised, reduced or enlarged in size, configured to fit in more than one final setup (10×10, 10×20, 10×30 for example). Accessories can be added, freestanding graphics or tables can become a part. And those additions don’t have to be out of the catalog, either. Often a client will have custom-built tables that include their logo and additional lighting effects to make them stand out.

If you’re shopping for a new exhibit in 2021 and your budget is pointing you towards something out of a catalog, starting with a kit makes sense. But you don’t have to (and probably won’t) stay there.


End of Year Price Drops

The tradeshow and event industry has been gasping for air for months and months. Exhibitors are putting off investing in new exhibits while wondering if they’re even going to appear at any shows in 2021.

In steps Classic Exhibits, our main exhibit manufacturer, with a little help: a price drop on safety dividers and rental! Not to mention, a trio of eco-friendly sustainable exhibits: a 10×10, a 10×20 and a 2020 island. Let’s take a look. Click to enlarge. Find the links below to download the PDFs.


10 Reasons to Change Tradeshow Exhibit Houses: Video:

Hiring an exhibit house is a big task. It’s a commitment to a business relationship that, ideally, you’d like to keep in place for years. But everything must come to an end, and there may come a time when it makes sense to consider changing exhibit houses. Here’s my quick video that looks at ten situations that may warrant that consideration:


14 Dumb Things Tradeshow Exhibitors Do: Video

Are you guilty of any of these? Don’t feel bad. We’re only human, but if we know ahead of time what things to know, what to avoid and how to prepare, we can have a much better and more successful tradeshow exhibiting experience.


What to do Now That the Tradeshow World is on Hold

I’ve certainly blogged about this topic before. But things change, inside your company and outside in the events and tradeshow world. So I think it behooves any tradeshow manager to keep their eyes up and take note of changes in the exhibiting landscape. Here are few things rattling around in my brain:

Be aware of how other shows are unfolding in other countries. How are they dealing with protecting their exhibitors and visitors? It’s easy enough to find information on LinkedIn, especially if you follow fellow industry exhibitors. I see this type of information shared frequently and learned that a very large show was held in Europe lately. This means in some parts of the world, things are getting back to normal.

Know what’s happening with the shows you normally exhibit at. Are they planning to be all virtual next time around? Or do they have firm plans to be back in action at the convention center or hall where they usually have the show? Or maybe the third option: they just don’t know. The local convention center here in Salem is closed until further notice, but they have several groups on long-term contracts that want to come back once it’s okay. Some have smaller gatherings of less than a hundred (which might be okay under today’s guidelines); others expect hundreds, maybe more than a thousand. At this point, it’s hard to know when gatherings that large will be allowed.

Different states have different statuses. California, Nevada, Chicago, DC, NYC. They’re all different and all have different plans for getting back to larger shows. It may not make sense to spend a lot of time digging into each state’s specific plans, but just to be aware that what brings back large shows in Nevada may not be the same that brings them back in NYC or Chicago.

If your company goes to several shows a year, large, medium and small, would it make sense to have a ready-made virtual exhibit that can easily be adapted to fit the requirements of each show? Virtual exhibits are getting more popular, especially when exhibitors and show organizers have the understanding that even when (if) things return to “normal,” virtual exhibits can and probably will be a part of the marketing mix. Learn more about virtual exhibit in this Kevin Carty podcast interview, this Exhibitor Magazine webinar replay which includes a walk-through of the Canon virtual exhibit, and this blog post on what questions might come up around moving forward with a virtual exhibit.

Another thing to keep abreast of is how exhibitors and attendees are feeling about getting back to live events. This piece from TSNN indicates a majority of people are ready to get back on the exhibiting floor.

Yes, things are moving forward. Sometimes we feel it’s at a snail’s pace, but even incremental movement is critical. I suspect at some point, you’ll look up and find that you’re booking travel plans and signing exhibiting contracts and planning exhibit updates.


http://tradeshowbuy.com

TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, September 21, 2020: Kevin Carty – Virtual Exhibits

I’ve had Kevin Carty of Classic Exhibits on a handful of times this year for various discussions related to dealing with the COVID Pandemic, how they’re dealing with it and more. But this week I wanted to catch up with Kevin to learn more about virtual exhibits: how they’re working their way into designing and implementing exhibits for clients, and how exhibitors can think about and approach a possible virtual exhibit for their own use:

This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Rain. Sorely needed here on the west coast with all the forest fires still burning. We got a good dose of rain late last week and while it didn’t put the fires out, it gave firefighters a good helping hand.


Subscribe to TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee on Apple Podcasts here.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Tradeshow Marketing here, where the vlog version of the podcast appears weekly.

Awareness Can Lead to Tradeshow Success: Video

The simple act of being aware of what’s going on can transform an average exhibiting experience into a successful one. Here’s a quick video on what you things you might want to be more aware of next time you’re exhibiting.


http://tradeshowbuy.com

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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