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.

 

In-booth Tactics That Could Give Your Exhibition Stand Design An Edge

What purpose does a well-designed exhibition stand serve for you? At best, it grabs the visitors’ attention, right? But so does every other stand out there. And more importantly, does it also keep the visitors engaged for long? Not really. So, is there a way that you could use your exhibition stand design to involve the visitors, rather than watching them walk away as soon as you are done with your elevator pitch? There is; in fact, there are a couple of in-booth tactics, which in conjunction with an effective design, could make your “stand” stand out.

Gamification

Kids love to play, agreed, but so do the adults; cash in on their love for games. Give them a reason to come and visit your exhibition booth – encourage participation through leaderboards, digital challenges and anything and everything that can add on to their experience – in the end, it’s all about experiential marketing. Let them have their moment – the moment of victory, where you announce the winner and give them a suitable reward. And you need not necessarily break the bank to incorporate gamification – there are a lot of budget-friendly options – right from quests and badges to loyalty programs. Just make sure that the results are fair and square and that they are made public, especially if you are using a leaderboard – put them up there for all to see.

Photography

A picture is worth a thousand words. Save your pitch for later; let the photos talk. Or better still, use them as a backdrop, something that could help you kick-off some engrossing discussions with the visitors. That being said, photo stations have been there for quite some time now; chances are that the neighboring booth has one. So how do you make yours more enticing? By leveraging the social media – photos make up for great shareable content and could be easily posted across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels – the more they are shared, the more people get to know about your brand – win-win!.

Technology

Is it feasible for you to transport all your products, even the large ones, to every trade show? Of course, not. So how do you promote these? Use technology to advantage – that should do – try and make Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) an integral part of your exhibition stand design – and worry not, you won’t be replacing the real-time experience – you would be engaging with the potential customers in a rather inventive way – something they’ll look forward to.

Product demos

Don’t be one of those ‘all talk, no action booths’; the visitors hate them. Grab every chance of showing off the key benefits of your products – give demos – let the visitors see for themselves how helpful your products are.

Gone are the days, when you just had to find one of the exhibition stand contractors, and book the biggest space – today, it’s more about identifying your target audience and thinking of some out-of-the-box ways to attract them. Once they are there, these tactics we have discussed could keep them engaged, and make them go through the decision-making process sooner than expected.

The Ifs And Whys Of Global Exhibiting, And The Remedy!

Global exhibiting is enticing, no doubt; after all, there are more than 30,000 B2B trade shows worldwide every year, and you just can’t get that kind of exposure without setting foot on foreign soil, can you? Let’s say, you are in the US, which makes up for less than 25% of the global market, shouldn’t you then also focus on the emerging markets of South America, India, the Middle East and Russia? You should.

As a matter of fact, you must consider exhibiting internationally, if your business strategy allows you to. However, going global has its share of challenges, and could be quite confusing, especially if you are a first-timer.

The lingual differences: When exhibiting at a show in Abu Dhabi, make sure that the text on your business cards is in both English and Arabic, but if you wish to have the signage only in English, that’s completely acceptable, no worries. No matter where you are, it’s always recommended to have at least one person in your booth who is good at speaking the native language, and that’s because your booth would attract foreign visitors, and not all of them will speak English. It’s advisable to hire local staffers, especially those who speak multiple languages. The idea is to convey your message and not let lingual differences come in your way.

The cultural differences: Have you ever been to a trade show in Hong Kong, if not as an exhibitor, maybe as a visitor? Did you notice that hospitality is common out there, irrespective of the booth size? Well, the typical fare at any show in Hong Kong consists of snacks and beverages, which must be ordered through the venue’s catering services. So, keep that in mind when you decide to exhibit there. Similarly, in the US, while you would seldom see alcohol on the show floor and smoking is out of the question, there may be a common sign in Europe and some other foreign countries. The key lies in understanding these differences and embracing them – when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

The bigger differences: For starters, avoid getting your shipment delayed in customs; either look for a freight company that has experience in overseas trade show shipments or just go with the organizer’s preferred freight partner – the latter, of course, seems more like it. Secondly, you need to ensure that your products are in compliance with the country’s technical and safety standards. If you are not so sure, better hire a local consultant. Err on the side of caution here. Thirdly, get a hang of the difference in currencies so that you do not end up overspending. Make suitable arrangement for currency conversion. Last, but not the least, take a note of the time differences as these can hit you hard. It is important to plan your day accordingly.

Facing these challenges head-on is easier said than done; find a reliable exhibit partner, one who has proven experience in the international market. Just make sure they have a couple of references to provide and are not just making tall claims. Go global!