You want a new tradeshow booth, but perhaps you don’t know exactly where to start.
You might consider issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a select group of exhibit houses. This gives you an organized process to judge which exhibit consultant might be the best fit for your company and your project.
Here’s a quick video that examines what it takes to issue an RFP:
Choosing an exhibit contractor can be a daunting task. Even though your current exhibit house might be competent, are they doing all they can to make your new exhibit experience as good as it can be? Often it comes down to knowing which questions to ask.
In this short video with Mel White of Classic Exhibits, our main exhibit manufacturer, we examine those questions that you should be asking any potential exhibit house prior to forking over large sums of money to them:
If your tradeshow booth is so big you can’t set it up yourself, you’ll need to hire a crew for installation/dismantle, commonly known as I&D in the industry. If you have an island booth, you’re much better off leaving the set up to the professionals.
Because the booth won’t listen when you yell at it, “Go on, get into place, you booth you!” Sorry, maybe on Harry Potter, but not in real life.
If you are going to set up your own inline or modular booth, make sure you arrive early at the event. This becomes much easier if you choose a manufacturer that designs products to be lightweight and easy to set up.
Generally you have a couple of choices for hiring: using the show services or hiring an exhibitor approved contractor that is familiar with local rules.
Some of the items that come up as you’re planning your I&D include making sure that the contractor is familiar with local rules where you’ll be exhibiting, making sure they have an accurate rendering (or booth set-up instructions) so they can give you an accurate estimate for installation, and any special equipment you might need for installation, such as a Genie lift, long ladders, electrical equipment and so on. If your contractor needs to buy anything you’ll need to know that upfront so that you can find yard ramps for sale or buy any other equipment needed.
Knowing some of the terms of I&D is helpful as you navigate your coordination with an I&D group:
Advance rates: you can save money by booking the exhibit space ahead of time.
Advance receiving: with hundreds or thousands of exhibitors all shipping several crates to a show, there is usually a advanced receiving warehouse that gives exhibitors a window to ship booths and have them stored until it’s show time.
CIF: if your shipping contract lists a CIF, this simply means that the price is inclusive of cost, insurance and freight.
Craftsperson: a skilled worker or laborer
Dead time: time when your hired workers are sitting, usually getting paid a lot, while there is nothing to do because of factors beyond their control
EAC: Exhibitor Approved Contractor – any company other than the official designated contractor. These may be companies that not only do the booth I&D, they may be involved in AV set-up, photography, plant rental and so on.
Four hour call: minimum time that a union laborer must be paid for work performed on the show floor for an exhibitor.
Straight Time (ST): work performed on the show floor during normal business hours
Overtime (OT): work performed on the show floor outside normal business house which usually included holidays and weekends
Many clients we work with at TradeshowGuy Exhibits are in the process of moving from the comfort zone of setting up an inline booth to outside the comfort zone of working with an I&D company for the setup of an island booth. Believe me, it can be a challenge if you’ve never done it before. But having seen many of them go through it, it’s also a great growing experience for the company as their booth presence on the tradeshow floor increases and they make a bigger impact on their market.
Bigger is often better – but it takes more effort and coordination to make it happen.
When it is time for you to choose a custom tradeshow exhibit house with a designer and fabricator, you are facing a daunting choice. Especially if you’re new to the game.
So we put this brief video together to more closely examine the various ways to choose an exhibit house.
In this video we look at how you might communicate with your exhibit house, what goes into design, the consultant’s depth of experience and strategic partner resources if needed. It all boils down to a couple of things: what you need (and can they handle it) and how well you get along with the company’s reps.
Last fall I put out the book “Tradeshow Success: 14 Proven Steps to Take Your Tradeshow Marketing to the Next Level.” I’ve done several promotions around it, given away a bunch of copies, and use it as my main calling card.
But I’ve never done a webinar on the book. Until now. Check it out:
Natural Products Expo West 2016 is in the books. I’m sure they’re still counting the numbers, but I have no doubt the final tally of visitors and exhibitors will top last year’s 71,000 (update: final numbers: 77,000+ attendees, over 3,000 exhibits, 600+ of which were new this year). It’s my 13th time I’ve walked the floor and worked with client exhibitors, and have always enjoyed it. It’s a grueling and weary four days, but well worth the time.
Some notes and thoughts…
At first blush, it appears that hundreds of exhibitors really stepped up their game. New booths, refreshed and repurposed older booths and new looks were the common themes that run throughout. Having said that, there were still a lot of exhibitors that seriously looked like they didn’t really know what to expect. I did talk to dozens of exhibits (maybe a hundred or more), and many are looking to upgrade for next year’s go-round, simply to compete with their neighbors down the aisle.
Last year I lost count of the time I saw the word ‘natural’ used in graphics. This year, not so much. I did however, see the term ‘superfoods’ used extensively.
Things are always in flux. I talked to several company reps who are facing personal changes because the company they work for has been or is being acquired by a larger entity. This means that while doors close, others open; new opportunities abound because there are always changes afoot in the industry. And even with 70,000+ visitors and exhibitors, it seems like a small industry (which I’m not even a part of, except peripherally!). Many people change companies but still land at this industry show each year.
Big is in – always. While there are hundreds of smaller exhibitors that are in the aisles with 10×10 or 10×20 in-line booths, the convention center is packed with large island booths, 20×20, 30×30, 40×40, 40×70 and more. I know the space is not cheap, so the investments made in marketing at this show are substantial. I spoke briefly with Bob Moore, the iconic “Bob” of Bob’s Red Mill, and he reiterated what he’s said many times before: exhibiting at Expo West year after year has helped the company expand and grow and reach new markets they couldn’t have otherwise reached. Without a doubt, many companies increase the size of their booth simply to show competitors that they’re in charge.
Exhibit construction: while I saw numerous fabric graphics and hanging pillowcase signs, there were hundreds of exhibits that featured solid wooden panels in their construction. At least six companies brought in vehicles (trailers, cars) as part of their exhibit. I saw one table made from a surfboard, a photobooth, one stuffed bear sitting on a toilet, and one iconic dread-deaded lion drinking coffee. There were loads of large graphics that caught your attention from several aisle away.
Social media: always lots of action on Twitter and Instagram. A handful of exhibitors pushed contests from their booth to tag them or tweet or ‘gram them from the show floor for a chance to win. A few years ago, that was a big deal, now it’s just part of the game – some are involved and some are not. Nobody seems to make a big deal about it, but social media engagement and contests are there, just not ubiquitous.
As always, Natural Products Expo West is a big deal – the biggest show of the year for the industry. Always great to be a part!
Need to get your hands on your next great tradeshow exhibit but don’t know where to start? Here’s a place that will give you so many choices your head will spin. However, the great thing is that once you narrow your choices down, it’s easy to share with your colleagues and team members. Check out this video:
It appears that our first webinar of 2016 went off with a hitch or a hiccup. At least that’s what it felt like! Here’s a replay in case you missed it:
Sign up for future webinars at TradeshowGuyWebinars.com. Our next one is set for February 16 at 10 am Pacific, and will feature Hiett Ives of Show Dynamics, Inc. of Houston Texas. The title of his presentation is “Tradeshow Leads Guaranteed” so you’ll want to make sure to attend!