Exhibition Stands: Then And Now – The Evolution!

Exhibition stands have come a long way – they are nothing like they used to be. In fact, the exhibitors have been quite experimental with their shapes & styles, designs, materials, lighting and technology, and anything and everything.

Shapes & Styles

The days of trying too hard for the so-called cool exhibition stands are long gone; today, the exhibitors are smart enough to realise that if they come up with a stand that provides a comprehensive overview of the equipment, the solutions, and more importantly, their brand, the attendees will come and visit of their own accord. Booth designers too have started emphasizing the need to build stands that are highly functional and in sync with the what the customers demand or expect. Some other factors that have crept in over the years, for good, include but may not be limited to:

– The need to understand the theme or the very purpose of the exhibition. For instance, those in the  HVAC industry mostly go for insular and/or peninsular stands. They are unlikely to go for anything quirky, and would rather invest in a high-tech stand, one with a minimalistic and simple design.

– Bulky awkward constructions have also been let go. Instead, the focus now lies on providing a suitable environment for work and negotiations; anything that could act as an obstruction is a big no-no.

– The features of the product or the equipment on display seem to have taken over. The shapes of the stands nowadays give a clear picture of what’s in store for the visitors.

– The use of 2-level stands is also on the rise. They have always been there, but their use is more common now. Even today, the exhibitors believe that a second floor can give them more room for talks and in-booth meetings with the VIP visitors, but then, they don’t let their budgets take a hit; such floors are only constructed if the investment is worth its salt.

Materials and Decoration

Well, the materials in use are pretty much the same, but they are being taken advantage of in newer forms. Wood, for example, is widely used even today, but the emphasis is on putting its derivatives like fiberboard and chipboard to good use. Also, the modern equipment makes it possible for the designer(s) or the carpenters to get the wood cut and processed with higher accuracy. Again, not much has changed in this context; even good old sheet metal is still widely popular, and so is aluminum. Having said that, the all-glass stands are increasing in number, but then many also condemn them citing safety issues. Here are some more changes that have taken place in the recent times:

– The classical technique of painting the stand has been shown the door. No one wants to putty the surface and work on alignment and priming; the designers today have the resources to do a much better job. They are often seen resorting to decorative plastics, laminates, polystyrene and even composite materials that go down well with the intensive lighting.

– While printing has been in use since time immemorial, it has more or less evolved – exhibitors now prefer direct UV printing on PVC, metal, chipboard, and believe it or not, the carpeting.

– Live and artificial plants are being increasingly used for decoration as they make the booth more inviting.

Lighting

This element has also undergone a drastic change from how it was perceived say a couple of years back. The focus these days is on reducing the eye strain and making the stand more comfortable for not only those who occupy it, i.e. the exhibitors and their staffers but also for the visitors. For this very purpose, the designers are increasingly using floodlighting, in addition to the fluorescent lamps that can be seen almost everywhere. The idea here is to smooth out the contrast between light and shadow, thereby making it easier for everyone to get a better view of the products. And of course, LED systems are the need of the hour – LED searchlights, LED spotlights, and LED backlight strips – they are all now an integral part of the stand design.

There have been quite a few other changes as well – in terms of multimedia, and even more surprisingly, the human factor. Virtual reality and robots are more common than ever, but yes, if they are attracting the visitors, who’re complaining?

 

Ways To Avoid Graphic Design Disasters At Trade Shows

Graphic Design Disasters Could Be Your Biggest Pitfall. Tread With Care At The Next Trade Show!

A picture is worth a thousand words. Don’t paint a grim one, especially when you are investing your time, money and effort in an exhibit. You want to attract the visitors and not unknowingly shoo them away. Act like it. Be wary of graphic design disasters, err on the side of caution.

The visitors shouldn’t have a hard time finding you

Your graphics should make you stand out. Camouflaging is a big no-no, and so is obscuration. You don’t want anything to get in the way of the visitors’ sightline, right? That’s because it’s imperative that they see (and understand) the message that you are trying to convey. And how do you ensure that?

By taking the following into consideration before you visualize how your stand would actually look like, once the show begins and the visitors come on over:

– The floorplan
– The entrances
– The location of the theatres/seminar halls, if any
– The stands that surround you

Once you have the information with you, work on displaying your message in such a way that it vehemently catches the visitors’ attention. Yes, booking larger stand spaces is always a good idea, but more space doesn’t necessarily save your message from concealment, height does. Take full advantage of the airspace above the stand. Although hanging impactful banners up there should serve the purpose, you can always ask your designer to help you with stand-supported high-level signs, just to be on the safe side. There you go – these long-range graphics will signpost your stand – the visitors would now find it easier to find you. Pun intended!

Be quick; the visitors won’t wait forever

3 seconds to be precise – that’s how long they’ll be there for you to make or break your impression. And the irony is that within these 3 seconds, you need to catch their attention, convey what you are trying to say, and leave a mark. Is it really possible? It very much is.

– If your graphics are not mere photos, but bits and pieces of information, they’ll be an important piece of the puzzle. The visitors often wonder what’s in it for them, and that’s exactly the question your graphics should answer.

a. Go for colorful and relevant images and choose legible fonts.

b. A concise copy always helps.

– Implement the hierarchy of graphic communication

a. You now know what the visitors want to see and understand first; prioritize it.

b. Immediately tell them who you are. As soon as they walk in. Using your logo should suffice.

c. What you do should come in second.

d. And if there’s any time or space left, play around with your USPs.

– The more the images, the better

a. Remember, you have only 3 seconds. You need to act quickly. Let images do the work

b. Does your portfolio include any famous brands? If that’s a yes, do use their logos to your advantage.

c. If the visitors recognize these brands, they’ll think highly of you, no matter if they are in direct competition with your customers or have a great deal of similarity – either way, you are in a win-win situation – if you could help your customers, you can also be great help to the visitors (hopeful prospects by now).

Brevity is good, but so is detail

When the 3-second phase is over, it’s up to you how you can make the visitors stay for a longer while – a relatively lengthy and detailed copy could come in handy here – display it on a stand. Just be sure of the placement, understand the zones of your stand, and you are good to go. Use the copy to educate the visitors, and who’s to say, it won’t help you qualify them while you are at it? The endgame is to capture their attention for a few more vital seconds so that your team has a better chance of reaching out to everyone.

It’s also advisable to involve your booth / graphic designer early on so that they develop a clear understanding of your exhibit theme and message right in the beginning, and have enough time on hands to come up with a crowd-pulling stand.

Why Hire an Exhibition Design Company

Some Things Are Better Left To Professionals. Exhibition Design Is One Of Them!

An exhibition can be quite draining; after all, there’s a lot involved, and with all work that it takes, your peace of mind could go for a toss. So unless you are the poster boy of “jack of all trades, master of none,” it’s advisable to delegate or rather outsource some or all of the work to those who can take care of it in a much better way. Take the exhibition design for example; it may sound cliche, but a design company would do a better job than you will. Here’s why:

They would have the team for it: Your booth designers won’t do everything on their own; they’ll have a team of experts, all well-versed with the nitty-gritty of designing a booth, and that team will complete the work in much lesser time. And time is money, right? Also, they are likely to dedicate different resources (read: people) to different aspects of the design, and eventually everything will be taken care of.

Your satisfaction is their success story: You’ll be looking forward to making a lasting impression at the show and attract the maximum number of visitors, while they’d work in the background to impress you. They ought to – for the sake of professionalism, for all the money that’s involved, and more importantly, to prove their mettle. If you are satisfied with the design they come up with, you’d either give them repeat business or spread the word or do both. Either way, they are in a win-win situation and they’d strive hard to put you in one.

They’ll have the technical know-how: Unless you choose a newfangled one, chances are that the design company is already well-versed with the technology needed to make your booth stand out. They’ll be upfront about what works and what doesn’t and whether or not your ideas and suggestions can be backed by technology. They’ll give you the real picture; it’s important to think big, but it’s even more important to get a reality check. Of course, if they go the extra mile and make the impossible possible, kudos!

Eleventh-hour changes will be the least of your worries: While it’s expected of an exhibition design company to take note of all the possible failure points right, in the beginning, there’ll be some unseen challenges along the path, and some would even pose a threat at the very last minute. You may panic, but the designers won’t; they would rather keep you prepped up all along. Also, if you have any impromptu suggestions just before the show, they’ll look into the possibility of implementing them.

You won’t be all by yourself: It can get lonely out there, especially before and after the trade show. A design company would visit the exhibition venue to supervise the installation, and once you are done, to dismantle it. They’ll take their carpenters and workmen along for their on-site supervision, thereby keeping everyone in the loop and ensuring that nothing gets missed. In fact, it’s a good idea to ask them to visit the venue because they should be familiar with the theme of the exhibition you are participating in – that’s how they can choose the most appropriate colors and graphics.

The point made: you need a design company for peace of mind, for total satisfaction, for on-site supervision, and for support. But, how do you find one? Well, there are many around, but you must zero in on the one that sets high-performance standards, respect your budgetary constraints, has an impressive portfolio to show, is open to feedback and has a key stake in making the trade show a big hit for you. You may also want to look at their partners and/or suppliers, and find answers to questions like where does the A/V equipment come from, just saying.

 

Make The Right First Impression At Your Next Trade Show; The Visitors May Not Give You A Second Chance

Whether an upcoming trade show would be your first or the 100th you’ll be participating in, you cannot take things for granted. Making a killer impression may have been easy at your last exhibition, who’s to say that the next one won’t turn into a big disappointment? You got to get it right; there’s no other option. Here’s how you treat every show differently and prep up:

You play by their rules and take the back seat for once: Well, it’s your show, agreed, but the organizers may have some rules in place. Respect them. When broken, the very same rules will show you in a bad light, flushing all your efforts down the drain. It’s not about losing control, but making their rulebook a reference point won’t hurt, while you are busy getting the booth designed and sending over the invites. And yes, if the event warrants a dress code, stick to it.

If you ignore the audience, they’ll play hard to get: Your booth design should be in sync with your target audience or better still, in sync with their mindset(s). Of course, it’s very much your booth, but you are out there exhibiting for the audience. For instance, if you are targeting the millennials, something old-fashioned would hardly be enticing; they’ll be more than happy to give your booth a miss. On the other hand, if your stand figuratively shouts that it’s youth-oriented, they’ll come in hoards and bring along more people than you expect to handle. The youth, in general, is impressionable; act while you can.

Don’t be so full of yourself: Imagine coming across a booth where the staff is all making merry – someone’s eating, others are drinking, while the rest of them are too busy to talk to you and would rather engage in a telephonic conversation; would you rather not head over to another booth? Exactly! The visitors will do the same. Do you get the drift?

Be messy at your own peril: Is the “scribbled-all-over” notepad from yesterday’s event still at your front desk, or have you been naive enough to hide the giveaways in plain sight? Either way, you would succeed in making the first impression, but a really bad one. Hide the clutter. Don’t obstruct the view of the audience or knowingly give them distractions to look at, while you make every possible move to divert their attention to your products and offerings.

Don’t be caught unaware: You want the visitors to come over to your booth, right? Then act like it. Prepare your staff for face-to-face interactions and have an elevator speech handy. Use technology in a possible way and do anything and everything you can to make it clear that you were expecting them indeed.

In the end, it’s all about understanding that there are other booths at the exhibition, and unless your first impression is good enough to lure the audience, you’d be losing out on quite a few leads. Be punctual, act like you know it all but be receptive to feedback because the visitors could be vocal about their experiences, and more importantly, start the preparations well in time.

Successful Exhibition Stands Have A Lot In Common. Learn And Adapt!

When at a trade show, the visitors may be busy finding answers to a different set of questions than you – while you may be busy qualifying leads, they are often seen wandering from one booth to another, spending merely 8-10 seconds before they decide to walk past – many are on the lookout for freebies, agreed, but others are just finding a good booth to be at. And how do they ultimately find one? Well, the answer lies within these constants:

Visuals That Attract

WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get, right? At least this is what the visitors believe; for them, if your stand looks good, you definitely have something good to offer, and once that’s been established, they’ll come in huge numbers. So, successful exhibition stands to invest in good visuals or graphics, whatever you want to call them. The idea is to stand out and attract the visitors; it really doesn’t matter if it’s a shell scheme or a custom stand, you can make it look good – you don’t necessarily need to break the bank, rather find a designer who can work around your budget and come up with a visually appealing stand.

No Ambiguity

Unsuccessful stands go overboard with the visuals and often miss out on the need for clarity, while the successful ones don’t. An architectural marvel is a sure shot way of attracting the visitors, but once they are there, they’ll spend only 3-4 seconds to digest the available information. And if within that timeframe, your visuals and/or signs fail to communicate what your business is about, they’ll leave.

Here’s what successful stands do to ensure that the visitors stop to find more:

– They make sure their copy is legible and more importantly, easy to understand. Technical jargon is a big no-no unless it’s an absolute necessity.

– They don’t overkill – 20 characters/5 words max per wall or something along similar lines. A bit too much information is a major put-off.

– They may embrace brevity but clearly communicate what all products and services they have on offer.

Valuable Literature

Once the visitors decide to stay, even if it’s for a short while, they must be provided with more information so as to pique their interest. While some stands bombard them with information, all thanks to the overzealous sales staff, out there to make a mark, others splash the walls with their entire knowledge bank. None of them succeed. The successful ones get leaflets/flyers printed for the visitors to take home. Some play smart and go digital with the information, providing the visitors with a link or QR code to fetch.

Samples or Discounts

Those who succeed at trade shows and exhibitions know what the visitors want; others do not. Successful stands are often flocked by visitors because they offer free samples. Those who are not able to do so because of the nature of their product(s), go the extra mile and give discounts. Either way, they are in a win-win situation.

No Place for Boredom

If your stand can keep the visitors entertained, it’s a success, if it can’t, it would fall flat – as simple as that. Trade shows can be quite tiring and some stands add to the anguish – with boring presentations and dry demos, they ward off the visitors sooner than expected. The successful ones, on the other hand, keep them entertained with virtual reality, gamification and what not.

Additionally, stands that succeed are manned by friendly staffers, and do not turn a blind eye to the needs of the mobility-impaired visitors; in other words, they are accessible to one and all. Success at trade shows is easy to achieve; some stands get the drift, while some don’t. Which side are you on?