Custom tradeshow flooring can do wonders for branding and helping you stand out. Check out this short video:
In speaking with industry veterans, consultants and experts, I’m starting to get the feeling that normal may not return for a long time, if ever, on the tradeshow floor.
First, let’s admit that the tradeshow world is a continuously evolving entity, and that what’s normal in one year may look a little odd just a year or two later.
Social media exploded over a couple of years. Now it’s common for companies to post photos and videos of their tradeshow experiences on social media. In fact, it’s just one of many ways that exhibitors leverage online presence.
In 2019 at NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), an experiment was under way to shift how exhibitors understood and paid for show labor and drayage. For all we know, that might have been the start of a new way of looking at tradeshow logistic costs and how they are calculated. Time will tell.
Now with social distancing appearing to be the norm for the foreseeable future, some show locations may insist (as might the exhibitors and attendees) that new protocols come into play, such as temperature checks, masks, distancing, limited attendance, greater space between booths, wider aisles. All of this will put pressure on profits and incomes; with fewer people and fewer exhibitors, it’ll be harder to show a profit.
And it’ll also put pressure on marketers, those creative types that are competing for attention along with every other exhibitor. Just showing up, setting up your exhibit, doing a few in-booth activities and giveaways, like many exhibitors have been doing for years, simply won’t cut it. In a recent interview with Marlys Arnold of Exhibit Marketer’s Café, she observed that disruptors will be the ones who get noticed. She also said that with shows coming back and audience attendance down, it’s likely that the quality of the visitors will increase. They’ll absolutely want to be there because it’s important. There’ll a higher percentage of buyers than in the past. And one other change that Marlys felt was important is that pre-show marketing will be even more critical than before.
Virtual tradeshows have blossomed in the past few months. Keynotes, break-out sessions, exhibitor presentations and more are taking the place, at least temporarily, of physical shows. And most observers I’ve talked to seem to believe that the virtual aspects of shows will stick around, even when we’re back to the physical world.
But here in the interim, marketers and tradeshow industry companies have time on their hands – time that is likely being used to adapt, learn new skills and reinvent themselves. With COVID-19 still coursing through the world, physical tradeshows will come back in fits and starts. Some observers have said that “normal” business may not be back until 2022 or 2023. We hope that is not the case. Sooner is better than later, because many people’s livelihoods are on the line.
A TradeshowGuy Quick Hit on whether or not you can hack tradeshow success:
Our main exhibit design and fabricator, Classic Exhibits, offers up four new galleries with what looks like a significant addition to Exhibit Design Search. Here are the four new galleries:
- PlaceLyft Office Solutions
- Hand Sanitizer Stands
- Office/Retail Lightboxes
- Safety Dividers
There’s also a new Interactive Gallery, further down the front page. I asked Mel White, VP of Marketing and Business Development with Classic Exhibits, to characterize the changes:
COVID-19 has forced most businesses to review their work environments as they plan for their employees to return. What they’ve realized is that most, if not all offices or retail spaces, do not protect employees from airborne or surface viruses. Deciding on next steps, however, can be confusing (and expensive) for many organizations.
The Contemporary Office and Retail Solutions galleries in EDS are designed to make those decisions easier. The four galleries show attractive and cost-effective solutions for any office or retail environment. They include office partitions with easily sanitize-able surfaces, protective safety barriers, durable hand sanitizer stands, and customizable LED lightboxes. There are no hidden prices, and the designs can be customized to any situation.
All the products are designed, engineered, and manufactured in the USA by a 27-year old Portland-based company.
Check out a brief look at the layout here, or by visiting TradeshowBuy.com:
I thought it might be fun to see what people have gravitated to on this blog when it comes to the weekly vlog/podcast I do under the title TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. The podcast is more or less a diary of my business and more broadly, the event and tradeshow industry, and beyond that, the business world. Or at least what interests me on any given day.
I don’t always have interviews on the show, but they’re always fun. I love speaking with industry colleagues and getting to know them, even though most of them are only “Zoom” friends, and we aren’t sitting down across a table for coffee!
Still, they’re enlightening and fun. Here are the top five most-viewed based on analytics looking back twelve months.
Number Four: Phil Gorski of Ava-Nee Productions and his company’s VR approach to tradeshow exhibits (and other fun things).
Number Two: Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound, offered numerous tips on creating publicity at tradeshows. Worth another look. Bring your notepad.
We’ve mentioned tradeshow exhibit rentals several times in this blog and on the podcast. Most of what you can learn about exhibit rentals is already here. But to make a finer point of it, let’s recap:
Pros of tradeshow exhibit rentals:
- Don’t have to store the exhibit
- Costs much less than a new exhibit
- Easy to re-shape and move into different sizes
- Short-term commitment
- …and more
Cons of tradeshow exhibit rentals
- Cost can add up: after renting a few times, you’ve paid for the cost of a new exhibit
- Have to keep coming up with a new idea or design for every show
- It’s not yours; after the show the money you spent is gone and you have no exhibit
Bottom line, there are no wrong answers. Only answers that fit an exhibitor’s specific needs, goals and situation.
But the final thing to remember about rental exhibits is this: it’s there when you need it, gone when you don’t. And sometimes that’s the best thing.
When Natural Products Expo West was cancelled on March 2, just a couple of days before the doors were to have opened to 80,000+ attendees and 3500+ exhibitors, there was a sense of “what did we miss by not being able to exhibit, by not being able to attend?”
And it happened for everyone. Here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits, we had several clients who had done modest upgrades to their exhibits. Upgrades that would have showed off new products, new brands, you name it.
But I thought they should see the light of day, so that followers could at least get an idea of what they missed. Plus, knowing that companies often change year over year, there’s a good chance that none of these exhibit revisions would be used in 2021. We worked with several other clients at the show, mainly to assist in installation and dismantle, so there was nothing new to show. I reached out to the clients involved, and many of them said, YES, please share those concepts; the artwork and revisions that we would have shown our visitors at Expo West. And one client declined to show off their new look, opting instead to save it for the future. Here’s a short video of those changes:
Check ’em all out here:
Every now and then a new exhibit modification comes along that sucks the air out of the room, so to speak. Gravitee, a tool-less exhibit designed and manufactured by Classic Exhibits, came along offering full-size fully-assembled panels that pull from the crate and lock together without tools. Clients love it. Show labor loves it, too, because it goes up quickly and easily.
Now we have Symphony, the first portable display to blend easy tool-less assembly with elegant design and clever accessories. Symphony can be dressed up with all kinds of add-ons and accessories, including counters, workstations, floating graphics, tablet, and monitor mounts. Additional options include wireless/wired charging pads, locking storage, brochure holders, and LED lighting.
Lots of 10x10s and 10x20s, great counters, and priced to sell and/or rent. Check out these great looks here and visit TradeshowBuy.com for the complete selection.
In three weeks, Natural Products Expo West will be launching in Anaheim California. It’s a show that TradeshowGuy Exhibits is most involved with of all the shows our clients go to each year. For the past couple of months, we’ve been working with new and current clients to finalize artwork, shipping and logistic schedules and more. It’s a crazy wonderful show. I’ve met hundreds of people there over the years and gained clients with almost every appearance. And of course, I’ve met people from companies that seemed to think they’d become clients, but it never happened. Maybe next year!
The preparation for a big show for many clients goes well beyond making sure the tradeshow exhibit is up to snuff and sporting new graphics or furniture or counters or new AV elements or lights. It’s about making sure they’re positioned right with new products and services. It’s about making connections with old colleagues and meeting new ones. It’s about seeing what your competitors are launching.
It’s also about all of the details and all the moving parts: scheduling labor, electrical, shipping, flooring, furniture, you name it. There are endless details when it comes to tradeshow marketing. Handling it each year and making adjustments at the next show to improve is not uncommon.
We’ll report more from the show during and after, but if you want to see how last year went for us, well, it went pretty well. I don’t think we’ll be quite as busy this year as a few of those clients are not making changes to last year’s presentations. But yeah, we’ll be busy.
I look forward to walking the floor for a few days, seeing what people are doing, talking with exhibitors, learning their challenges. I look forward to being in warmer climes than Oregon during early March! I look forward to connecting with an old friend in LA and catching up on a spare night (there aren’t many).
But most of all, I look forward to seeing the clients we’ve worked with, whether for decades, years, or even a few months. I look forward to seeing how all of the hard work is received. It’s great to make clients look good, not only to their immediate supervisors who may not have been intimately involved in the new exhibit or upgrades, but also the clients who come away impressed with the exhibit.
Many clients I work with struggle with many of the bits and pieces of their tradeshow exhibit, including furniture Some clients prefer to own a handful of stackable chairs that stay in their exhibit shipping crates when not in use. Others like the idea of having a fresh new look and budget for furniture rentals every show.
There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just whatever works best for you.
Certainly, there are pros and cons to renting an exhibit, which is a bit part of any exhibit house’s overall business. Same with furniture. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
Pros – Advantages of Renting:
Selection: Furniture rental companies are vying your business just like any other supplier. And to remain competitive, their selection has to be deep and wide. Which brings us to the next thing:
Shiny new: Renting furniture means you’ll get a piece that has only been used a few times, if at all. There’s a lot of turnover in the furniture rental industry and to stay on top, companies have to offer high quality. Which means that they are offering their best. If you get a piece of furniture that is scuffed or damaged, chances are you won’t use that company again.
Ease of use: This is one of the biggest drawing cards. Most furniture rental companies have warehouses near the major metro areas. When you rent chairs, tables, sofas, loveseats or whatever, it shows up at your booth space. At the end of the show, you just leave it there and the furniture company picks it up. And most bigger shows will have a local rep on site to deal with any issues that come up.
Damage: your furniture will get tossed, bounced, dropped and damaged eight ways from Sunday. It’s the nature of the tradeshow world. And after a while, it gets old and worn out.
Storage: when you rent furniture, you don’t have to pay to store it.
Shipping: when you rent furniture, you don’t pay to ship it. It just shows up. The price is all-inclusive.
Cons – Advantages of Owning:
Less Cost: not necessarily a negative, but weigh the cost of renting furniture a half dozen times over a year vs owning and storing a set of furniture, and undoubtedly the cost to rent that many times will be higher than purchasing something and using it six times.
Storage: If you have sufficient storage space and the chairs fit in your shipping crates, you don’t have to worry about them.
No Surprises: When you own furniture, you don’t worry about renting something turns out to be different than what you expected.
Less Hassle: Don’t have to deal with yet another vendor.
Is renting furniture the right thing for you? Talk to your exhibit house. No doubt they work with at least one good furniture rental vendor that can answer your questions.
Check out our selection of rental furniture at TradeshowBuy.com.