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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Exhibit Concepts

2020 Trade Show Trends - Sure Didn't See That Coming

Exhibit Concepts August 04, 2020

There is a funny TikTok video where a woman, eating a bit of chocolate, says she just had a thought...that back in 2015, absolutely no one in the world got the answer right to the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Forget about 5 years, back in December, who would have predicted that after Q1, live events would cease to exist or that the majority of us would be working from home for months on end? 

 

2020 Trends Update Hero (1)

 

In a “normal” year, we publish a trade show trends blog highlighting trends and innovations that we are following for the upcoming year. And in a “normal year”, we revisit those predictions in the middle of the year and provide an update if something was a fad more than a trend, or if we’re seeing something noteworthy and new. Well, one thing we know about 2020, it sure isn’t “normal”. 

 

But, if there is one thing we know about trade show and event professionals, they always have a back-up plan. Few other professionals are as ready to pivot on a moment's notice, canceling the live event and changing tactics. Trade show and event professionals learn through experience to expect the unexpected.  

 

So, what are the new trends?  

 

Going Digital SOLO

At this point, most brand marketing teams have considered and some have implemented digital components and virtual events into their marketing efforts. In some cases, this might take the form of a webinar while others are participating in the virtual event offered by the show organizer. Innovative companies are hosting their own events so that they can customize the entire experience: timing, duration, content, and engagement for their target audience. 

 

Focus on the Experience 

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Everyone has experienced screen fatigue at least once (per day?) while working remotely. And webinar fatigue and virtual event fatigue are quickly setting in. Why? Because most marketers adding these elements to the mix are following the same boring formula: a bad web camera angle, a monotone speaker and death by PowerPoint. Successful brands recognize that they need to make their virtual event an experience. And the most memorable experiences are those that incorporate the senses.

 

Approach Virtual Like In Person 

Some marketers are intimidated by the prospect of a virtual event because they don’t consider themselves “technical enough”. And let’s face it, many of us understand how a trade show booth is designed and assembled, but we don’t understand “the cloud”.  Approach a virtual event using the same strategy and planning process as an in-person event focusing first on your audience and what you want them to think, feel and do during and after the event. Find a good virtual platform partner for the technical aspects, just as you do with your exhibit house partner. 

 

Invest in Yourself

One of the positive developments of is that the shutdown of face-to-face events has created some time and room for trade show and event marketers to pursue professional development. Maybe you want to conquer Pivot Tables in MS Excel or advance your Adobe skills. Numerous training videos and tutorials are readily available. Exhibitor Media Group offers the eTrak option for those pursuing their CTSM or wanting to enhance their skills. 

 

Hygiene 

And no, this isn’t about handwashing. Another trend we’re seeing is marketers using this less hectic period to work with their exhibit house to purge outdated property, print new graphics, and rework the booth layout to allow for social distancing and hand sanitizer kiosks. 

 

Obviously, the trends we were expecting in booth design did not come to pass but new trends have emerged. 2020 has thrown everyone a curve ball. It’s not the year anyone was expecting back in December, and definitely not in 2015, but trade show and event marketers are up to the challenge. 

When You Don't Want a Crowd

Exhibit Concepts July 30, 2020

Trade show and event managers have long spent countless hours planning for their major strategic events. You know, the big ones where they plan to announce a major new product or unveil a new service offering. They review event objectives, attendee personas, strategy and theming. Every detail from the architecture, staging, brand ambassadors, attire, promotional giveaways, pre-event marketing and post-event follow-up is thought through, debated and documented.

People attract people quote

An area that planners spend a great deal of effort is what engagement and activities are likely to draw a crowd. Crowds signal to passersby that there is something exciting happening that they want to see, too. People want to see first-hand the new, the novel, the incredible.

Perhaps not everyone in the crowd is in your target audience, but the crowd creates buzz. More people get in line to see what the excitement is all about. People share their videos, photos and experience on social media and that leads to expanded reach and impressions. 

Omron crowd - Hero Image

But in our current environment trying to curtail the spread of COVID-19, social distancing is encouraged,and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds are discouraged. 

As there is a slow and gradual return to live events and in-person trade shows, in addition to increasing distance between demo stations and incorporating touchless interactives into their booths, marketers need to rethink how they will create buzz and excitement.  

By Appointment Only 

You can still have theater presentations or celebrity demonstrations in your booth but think about invitation only or advanced reservations to adhere to social distancing recommendations. This can also be an effective strategy to create buzz and excitement by appealing to our desire to be “in the know” and on the guest list of an exclusive event. 

Virtual Photo Ops 

Create a series of share-worthy digital backdrops that attendees can use to commemorate the event. 

Media Relations 

Arrange for special hours and invitations for media, influencers, and bloggers to have a behind-the-scenes special experience and access to subject-matter-experts to cover your news and product/service innovations. 

Pre- and Post-Event Marketing

A tightly integrated pre- and post-event marketing plan is more important than ever. This will be especially important for those in your target audience that were not able to attend the invitation-only event component. 

Roadshows 

There may be an opportunity to take your “show on the road” with a mobile vehicle tour that visits other venues and delivers the experience in a more localized setting. 

Digital Hybrid 

Plan to stream presentations and engagement experiences throughout the venue, as well as to the portion of your audience that couldn’t attend the live event. Be sure to incorporate recommended social sharing to drive engagement and impressions. Add a virtual event that replicates the educational and entertainment elements from the live event with greater reach and a longer shelf-life. 

Big crowds watching an incredible athlete, or artist or listening to an engaging product innovation may not be possible (or desirable) in the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create buzz or excitement for your event. Change expectations about how long it may take to create that buzz because it very likely will happen over time versus in one big moment. 

Need help with how to incorporate social distancing aspects and virtual solutions for your booth or event?

Let's Chat!

How to Incorporate the Five Senses Into Your Virtual Trade Show Experience

Exhibit Concepts July 22, 2020

When it comes to a traditional, in-person trade show experience, there are endless ways to incorporate the senses to make a big impression. From robots playing ping pong to ice cream samples, you can draw people into your booth with the right sense-focused strategy.

Not only are your senses an integral part of the learning process, they also play a pivotal role in creating lasting impressions. For example, a song on the radio reminds you of a college romance, the taste of a favorite family recipe brings you back to holidays as a child, and the scent of pine needles reminds you of your first camping trip. 
 

We talked about how to incorporate the fives senses into your booth experience, but what about doing the same for a virtual experience? It is possible, with some creative thinking. And, it is more important than ever to use the senses to keep your audience engaged in your virtual event. 
 

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Smell: It seems the technology to allow us to smell through a screen 

hasn’t been invented quite yet. In the case of incorporating scent into a virtual experience, you may consider sending items to participants prior to the event. Think nostalgic scents that may remind them of their childhood, or even a smell that could start an interesting conversation about your brand or their needs.


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Taste: This is another great opportunity to think creatively for a virtual 

event. Perhaps you could also add an element to the aforementioned package that includes something delicious like chocolate chip cookies or a bag of local coffee or tea. Think about how to tie your message and product to something edible for an experience that will feel personal, even when it’s virtual.  

 

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Sight: When it comes to bringing this sense to life, it’s easy to incorporate sight into your virtual trade show experience. Think bright, bold visuals and short, poignant videos and anything that really brings your message and brand to life visually. Even seeing one another on screen to have a virtual “face to face” conversation can help break the ice and lead to a meaningful experience.  
 

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Touch: A tactile experience can also be memorable for your virtual participants. Consider including a blanket in that package you send before (or after!) the event with your brand or message on it. It will be an appealing item that your participants will likely keep around for years to come.  

 

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Hearing: Aside from sight, hearing might be one of the most important elements of a virtual trade show experience. Bringing this particular sense to life can be anything from an engaging ice breaker game to get people smiling and laughing, to playing music as people wait for the event to begin. Be sure to test out sound quality, especially music because it does not transmit well on some platforms. 

 

If your budget does not allow for a “care package” to be sent to all attendees of your event, consider using a survey to qualify attendees and send the package to only those most qualified. Another option is to turn the sensory experience into part of your engagement strategy. Ask attendees to find items from around their home or office. Or have them bake cinnamon rolls for the morning coffee break, or make a cocktail with your guest mixologist for your virtual happy hour.

 

Hosting virtual events and trade shows to interact with your customers certainly presents a unique set of challenges. We understand that now, more than ever, it’s important to be thoughtful and creative when talking to and educating those who are current or potential customers. 
 

Need help with a creative solution for your next virtual event? Our Virtual Exhibit Platform can help!  

Make the Most of Low Attendance

Exhibit Concepts July 09, 2020

After months of empty exhibit halls, warehouse aisles filled with crates that weren’t moved, and event managers spending an unprecedented number of nights at home in their own beds, there are glimmers of the return of exhibitions and live events. The Orange County Convention Center in Orlando and the Las Vegas Convention Center are planning to host events in the coming months. The Consumer Technology Association has announced that CES 2021 will be a live event in 2021. The Hunan Auto Show opened at the end of April, and European Exhibition Centers are planning to reopen in early September. These are all encouraging signs for sales and marketing teams whose lead gen goals and opportunities to connect with clients and prospects were negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the shut-down of mass events. 

Despite these encouraging developments, there is still a great deal of uncertainty and concern. Positive coronavirus cases are increasing in certain areas across the country, casting a greater net of uncertainty about when live events will resume. When they do return, event organizers and exhibitors alike are anticipating significantly reduced attendance for some time.

An important consideration in making the decision to exhibit is that there will likely be fewer exhibitors attending so your company will stand out against a smaller field. Your company will maintain your presence and brand image and be viewed positively as supporting the industry. If you are a market leader, when you are not on the show floor, people notice your absence and wonder about the health of your business. Additionally, attendees at these early re-opening events are guaranteed to be the serious buyers and decision makers. Plan on having deeper and longer conversations and connections with those that come to your booth. And show organizers may be adding incentives and other sponsorship opportunities to motivate exhibiting.  

0P2A9918When you do decide to return to the show floor there are several things to incorporate into your planning: 

Booth personnel

With serious buyers attending and engaging in deeper conversations, think carefully about who works your booth. You need subject-matter experts who can address a wide range of inquiries. 

Post event follow-up

Visitors who have made a connection are expecting personalized follow-up. Have your follow-up plan mapped out with clear expectations about timing and who is doing the outreach. 

Promo items

One of the benefits of decreased attendance is that spouses and people looking for gifts for their children, without having to visit the over-priced resort gift shop, won’t be visiting your booth. However, promotion items can reinforce your messages and serve as recognition and a thank you for attendees making the trip. 

Reach the non-travelers

Recognize that a significant number of your target audience won’t attend the live event. Consider digital and virtual means to share the excitement and information from the show floor with this audience, as well. 

Exhibitions and face-to-face events are uniquely effective at reaching your target audience, launching new products, making a connection and demonstrating products. Your business has likely suffered through the COVID-19 imposed prohibitions of large events and gatherings. Most industry experts predict that there will be a gradual reopening and return to live events, perhaps as early as late fall in some areas of the country and more likely in the first half of 2021. As you revise and update your marketing plans, don’t let the lower attendance figures deter you from participating in one of the most effective tactics in your marketing toolkit.

Mini eBook: 10 Tips to Make Your Virtual Event a Success

Exhibit Concepts July 02, 2020

If the cornerstone event on your calendar has been canceled or postponed, or maybe the live event is going forward but you are anticipating significantly reduced attendance, you’re likely considering a virtual event.

Planning a virtual event can be daunting task. Before you jump in, consider these 10 tips to make your event more successful (and less stressful)! 

1. The Brief is Your North Star

The key to every successful sales and marketing initiative is clarity around your goals, your target audience and your message. Before diving headfirst into virtual event planning, hit the pause button and review your Creative Brief. The brief is the document that captures the details of the situation, the opportunity, your ideal target audience and what behavior you are trying to motivate. Do not assume that the brief you created for the face-to-face event will work as-is for a move to a digital environment. Think through the implications of a digital experience and modify the brief accordingly. And refer to the brief throughout your planning process.

2. Who’s Coming to the Party?

In a perfect world, who do you want to come to your event and what do you want them to think, feel or do by the end of it? When you participate in a trade show, to a certain extent, you are relying on the show organizer to drive traffic to the event. Your job is to entice that traffic to your booth to engage with your team and hear your pitch. When planning your own virtual event, you are now responsible for reaching your audience and motivating them to attend in addition to engaging with them during the event. Use your digital attendee personas to help identify your ideal audience member and build that rich profile to help guide your pre-event, during the event and post-event activities.

Read the rest of the tips by downloading the Mini eBook HERE!

Mitigate the Challenges of Going Virtual for Trade Shows & Events

Exhibit Concepts June 22, 2020

Trade shows are a great way to have a meaningful interaction with clients and prospects alike. But what happens when an in-person show or event is no longer an option? Going virtual is an appealing option for sales and marketing teams to fill the void when the in-person event has been canceled.

While many businesses have no other option and are turning digital, it’s important to remember that a virtual show isn’t going to be a perfect replacement for a live, in-person event.  

A live, in-person trade show is an incredible tool for marketers, because it allows for meaningful interactions, conversation, thought leadership, and ultimately, relationship building. That value also translates to your industry colleagues and sharing knowledge and insights with one another, an experience that is a cornerstone of a trade show. 

Holding a virtual trade show means attempting to translate those meaningful experiences into a digital one. This includes taking your booth, the exhibit hall, the handshakes, and even keynote speakers and translating those into a digital experience. That’s a tall order!

Let’s consider some of the challenges digital events have compared with in-person events, and how to mitigate them. 

Feels impersonal 

Connecting digitally is not the same as connecting in person. There’s just something about an in-person experience that cannot be replicated online. 

Consider strategies to make the digital experience warmer and more personal such as welcoming, by name, registrants as they log-in.  

Low engagement

Even if you have a great attendance at your virtual event, engagement may be difficult. Attendees tuning in from their home office or office may be distracted by multi-tasking, urgent business or even family needs.  

Incorporating polls and surveys are a great way to keep your attendees engaged throughout your event. You can build on this idea by incorporating contests where attendees can earn benefits by engaging during your event. 

Limited-to-no networking

Interacting and building relationships with others in your industry is the cornerstone of an in-person trade show. That physical interaction on the trade show floor is missing. 

Consider incorporating a chat feature into your event or adding topical break-out sessions with an engaging facilitator. 

Tech problems

A live, virtual trade show could encounter issues with internet speed and connection that may lead to latency or other problems. 

Make sure you have a back-up plan in the event of technology problems. Be sure to schedule a run-through before your event using the exact technology environment in order to work out any kinks in advance. 

Budget appropriately 

When you consider all the costs involved, an in-person trade show exhibit can add up to a lot of money. However, it is money well spent and has been proven to be a very low cost per lead. Virtual events also can also require significant funding.

Divert savings from your canceled in person event to the digital experience which may require sets and backdrops, new graphics and new video content creation. 

Planning lead time

In-person trade shows and show organized virtual events have a specific timeline and requires advanced planning. Don’t underestimate the planning necessary to execute a successful digital event. 

Approach your digital event as you would planning for an in-person event. Apply the same effort you want to driving traffic to the booth to your digital event. Also consider content creation needsDo you have new digital content that needs to be created? That will require scripting, storyboarding, practice sessions, video and editing.

There are many considerations when planning a digital event. The list can seem daunting. And while a virtual event will not likely generate the same results as an in-person event, they can be a good tactic for making connections. 

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Exhibit Concepts' newest department, NEXT Lab, has been busy preparing for this virtual world we are now living in. From customized webcam-based live streaming, video conference backgrounds, to full productions that digitally presents your exhibit booth, the NEXT Lab team is ready to meet your virtual needs. Queue ECI's VEP (Virtual Exhibit Platform): as big as any booth we've ever built, and it fits entirely on your computer.

You can learn more about VEP here 

Exhibit Concepts, Inc. Takes Part in Exhibitions Day 2020

Exhibit Concepts June 19, 2020

For a couple of days in June each year, professionals from the exhibition industry have met together in Washington, D.C. for Exhibitions Day. The purpose of Exhibitions Day is to meet with federal legislators and their staff to advocate on behalf of the exhibitions and events industry. In prior years, up to 125 industry professionals participated in the event. This year, due to the global pandemic, Exhibitions Day went virtual and over 1,600 professionals registered to participate in the event. Exhibit Concepts was one of those participants. 

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Prior events have focused on issues such as general safety concerns, transportation and online booking scams. This year, understandably, the focus was on the devastating economic impact COVID-19 has had on the exhibitions industry. Our mission was to ask legislators to support legislation to help companies in the exhibitions and events industry get back to business, as well as emphasizing the key role that the events and exhibition industry plays in the recovery of the overall economy. 

2020_EMB_Infographic-600x776Much of the focus of the day of advocacy was educating legislators and their staff on key facts about the industry: 

  • B2B events contributed $101B to the U.S. GDP in 2019 
  • All 50 states have exhibits 
  • 1.6M companies exhibit 
  • 81.3M show and conference attendees in the U.S. each year 

Participants were encouraged to communicate with their representatives in support of several legislative initiatives. First and foremost are initiatives to support a safe restart to exhibitions, meetings and events. 

Key issues can be found on the International Association of Exhibitions and Events "Exhibitions and Events Mean Business" website.

GoLiveTogether__Logo + Hashtag & URL Positive Horiz

Additionally, the Go LIVE Together initiative is focused on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 by leveraging industry resources and expertise. The effort also joins leaders from across the industry to continue to drive local, state and federal legislative actions to get the event and exhibitions industry back to work which will in turn drive the global economic recovery. Additional information, resources and progress updates can be found here.

On Friday, June 5th, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) released a White Paper: Essential Considerations for Safely Reopening Exhibitions and Events. This paper is based on the recommendations of the scientific and medical communities and the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) for the best and safest ways to conduct live events. The paper is geared toward exhibition organizers for use when planning for and producing an exhibition during a pandemic, and provides insights to exhibitors and exhibit producers to help plan for a safe and successful event. 

Events and exhibitions provide the means for brands to make connections with their audience, for companies to launch new products and for buyers to make informed decisions. We can implement the necessary measures (e.g. wider aisles, antimicrobial materials, hand sanitizers, and others) to provide a safe experience for exhibitors and attendees. We need our government officials to support efforts to restart our industry. 

Begin Planning for the Return of Trade Shows Now: Part 3 - Account Professionals' Perspective

Exhibit Concepts June 04, 2020

There is a saying: fail to plan and you plan to fail. Every successful venture starts with a plan, and that has never been truer than it is right now. Having a plan, and planning ahead, is a major key to success. We spoke with other groups to get their take on planning, including:

Part 1: Designer’s Perspective

Part 2: Estimating, Detailing, and Production’s Perspective

In the third, and final, part of this series, we spoke with Exhibit Concepts, Inc.'s Account Manager Regina Henning, Account Executive Chris Beckstedt, and Project Manager Misty Boyd to get their take on how clients can make the most of their time right now to plan ahead.

Regina Henning, Account Manager, emphasized the importance of thinking about managing inventory. For many clients, inventory is something that is reviewed and reassessed once every few years, but now during the slow-down caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, is a great time to streamline that process and develop best practices. It’s important to be intentional about your inventory, review items, and even purge as needed. This will help from a budgetary perspective, by minimizing storage space and saving money in storage fees.

MistyBoyd

Regina also addressed a topic that is of crucial importance: having a backup plan (or two). Thinking through each possibility of what could go wrong now, instead of on the show floor, can be a productive exercise.

“As the saying goes, you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” said Regina. “Having a backup plan is always a good idea, but it’s more important than ever right now.”

This doesn’t mean assuming the worst; it means playing out every plausible scenario ahead of time, creating a plan, and hopefully never needing it. It also means peace of mind, staying nimble, and walking through the process ahead of time so you are fully prepared for the show while you are on the show floor.

Fall, especially October, is typically the busiest time of the year in the trade show industry. The current uncertainty is forcing marketers to hold off starting new projects, waiting until the last possible moment to get started. No one knows whether shows will return in the fall, but assuming they do, with pent up demand and compressed schedules, that potentially means it will be busier than ever. All the more reason to have a clear vision of any rental assets needed that can be reserved now, and those all-important backup plans. That could also mean having different ideas for different budgets, including a budget for a physical show or a virtual one.

Account Executive Chris Beckstedt also emphasized the importance of being flexible, having a contingency plan, and more than anything, being adaptable. While there are plenty of “unknowns” at this point, there is also plenty of time to find new ways to reach your audience. A virtual exhibit platform (VEP) is a perfect avenue to do that right now. When trade shows and conferences return, some projections indicate attendance could be reduced by 40% to 50%. The question becomes: how do you reach the rest of your audience? Utilizing AR or VR demonstrations and virtual trade shows is an ideal solution. Face-to-face will always be the most effective channel to reach and engage with buyers, but finding new ways to reach your audience right now is crucial.

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A successful virtual event requires a marketer to think about and plan the event much like they would for a live event. Who is my target audience and what motivates them? How do I drive traffic to my event? What content, speakers and demonstrations will we leverage during the event? What activities should we consider to drive engagement? What do I want my audience to think and feel after the event? How should I best follow up? Arguably, a virtual platform makes it easy to capture leads through the sign-in process and during the event. It can also host numerous presenters, utilize a live chat function, and deliver a message in a short period of time. But in virtual, you’ll always miss that face-to-face interaction, human connection and hands-on experience that we all crave.

Project Manager Misty Boyd also emphasized making the most of this time by working with your team to get on the same page with planning, messaging, and graphics.

“Historically, the fall is always the busiest time of year for trade shows,” said Misty. “By working ahead now and finalizing the messaging and getting approval for graphics, we can avoid that rush and prevent any delays when the time comes.” This slower period we are in, is also a great time to refurbish trade show property, adding new components or finishes. And thinking about longer term sustained concerns about safety and social distancing, now is a great time to engage with your exhibit partner to modify your floorplan to create more room between demo stations and explore touchless interactives.

Working ahead and planning early isn’t just an effective use of time, it also allows for “early bird” discounts that can also save time and money.

"Another key component of making the most of this time is scheduling discovery calls to talk through strategy," says Misty. "A 30-minute call can be a great way to get the entire team on the same page about goals, strategy, messaging, and design. A creative brief can help to clarify and communication your goals and strategy. It’s a great way to clearly articulate expectations and really, just make everyone accessible for an honest conversation."

Starting the planning process now means making the most of this time to understand your vision so that it can be brought to life in the most meaningful way.

Spring Cleaning with Your Exhibit House

Exhibit Concepts May 13, 2020

One of the hottest shows on Netflix is Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. And with so many of us spending a lot more time at home due to COVID-19 and state stay-at-home mandates, it is likely that you’ve used her techniques to declutter your closets and hold on to those items that truly provide joy. 

While you are working out of your home office, you may be wondering how you can apply these same techniques to your work situation. 

And springtime is the perfect time to work with your exhibit partner on your own spring cleaning exhibit makeover. 

Most trade show managers, who manage a full calendar of events, will tell you that there is no downtime in the calendar. One season might be particularly busy with the actual events happening (typically Q4) but means that the quarter before is filled with planning the upcoming events. Some events are so significant that an entire year (or more) goes into the planning. And therefore, in typical years, there never seems to be a good time for “spring cleaning” of your booth property. But this year is anything but typical so now is a great time for a refresh.

As Pam Thomas, Account Management Director for Exhibit Concepts, Inc. put it, “Now is the perfect time to ensure inventory is current and ready for exhibiting. Whether it’s disposing of old graphics because of a rebrand, assessing items for damage/repair or disposing of no longer needed promo items, we can work with you to get this accomplished.” Your exhibit house should have a comprehensive inventory of your property and graphics. Ideally, they are using an inventory management system that provides information about how often a particular item or graphic has been used for recent events. Your account team can provide recommendations for items that maybe need a refurb, or other items that may be best removed from inventory.  

A spring cleaning exercise can also benefit a situation where your company has gone through a merger, a rebranding effort, or significant new products or messaging. So, in addition to identifying items for disposal, this exercise and time can also be used to update and refresh existing properties with new graphics. Or perhaps now is the time to add a new cabinet or reception desk into your booth property inventory.  

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Every year, Exhibit Concepts partners with clients to maintain their inventory. In instances where we are disposing of property, we work with local organizations to recycle as much of the property as possible. According to Dom Conti, Production Director, “our goal is to recycle and repurpose as much of the material as possible. There are so many local organizations that can make use of the raw materials when we break down exhibit components.” 

Take advantage of this time to reflect and plan. Part of that planning process is to evaluate what your company needs to exhibit effectively in the future. As an added benefit, if we do end up disposing of some items, your storage costs will decrease. 

Exhibit Concepts is here to partner with you for ALL your face-to-marketing needs, even spring cleaning. Stay well, we will get through this together. 

Begin Planning for the Return of Trade Shows Now: Part 2 - Estimating, Detailing, and Production's Perspective

Exhibit Concepts May 08, 2020

Every successful project begins with a plan. It’s a roadmap to reach your destination, and a crucial component is making sure your project is completed correctly and on time. In the trade show industry, a timeline is the lifeline of a project. The show date is set in stone, and it is crucial that you arrive at that destination completely prepared.

Timelines are so important, in fact, that we talk about them often: 

Trade Show Timeline: The Recipe for Success 

Timelines and Teamwork: The ASME Story 

4 Reasons your Trade Show Program Needs a Timeline 

But lately things have changed for us in the trade show industry. Many shows have been postponed or canceled, while others have decided to go the virtual exhibit route. This time is all about adapting, pivoting, remaining fluid--whatever you want to call it. 

It is in the spirit of adaptation and change that we approached our internal teams to talk about what our clients can and should be doing right now to help their Fall Schedule run smoothly. Change can be difficult, but it also has the power to transform. For a few weeks during the stay-at-home orders in Ohio and Illinois, we temporarily suspended production, but projects were still moving forward in the “front end” of the business. That means our designers are still working to bring our clients’ visions to life in a trade show space... estimators are still estimating, and detailers are still detailing. Without the extreme time crunch that is typical of a trade show timeline, now is the time to really think through design and experience to ensure it aligns with your goals.  

Now is also a great time to leverage early sign-offs and discounts from partners, along with approving graphics so they are ready to be printed the moment production resumes. While you may not have loads of free time right now, you certainly have more desk and computer time than if you were on the road, traveling to shows 

We spoke with Dom Conti, Exhibit Concepts’ Director of Production, about what this time means for clients and how it can have a positive impact on their future event calendar. 
"So often, we are crunched for time and important parts of the process can fall away,” said Dom. “But now is the perfect time to think long-term about your company’s goals and how they can be aligned inside of your trade show booth in every show, not just the next show.” 

He also reiterated something ECI says often: to be clear is to be kind. It’s important to spend this time thinking about and even discussing what your expectations and goals are for your booth and making sure they are articulated to designers and production.  

Being clear about what you want and how that relates to your goals is the clear path to success.  

Another key point Dom reiterated was the crucial importance of previewing your booth before its set up on the trade show floor. In many cases, we have clients visit our facility to see the booth in person to really understand how it functions--a key part of bringing that vision to life well before the show starts. 

While an in-person visit is not in the cards right now, it’s still possible to view the booth and understand the experience visually thanks to our team’s VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) capabilities.  

We also spoke with Jerry Spangler, VP of Project Management, who oversees the estimating and detailing departments. He reiterated the crucial importance of time, the true benefit of working months in advance on a project. On average, it takes between 3 and 5 days to estimate a mid-size project, and even longer for a larger or new build project. While accuracy is never sacrificed, a full time frame for an estimate allows for the scheduling and balancing of internal resourcesWhen afforded this time, detailed quotes can be gathered from suppliers which may reduce the overall cost of the exhibit. 

Furthermore, the benefit of early planning can help align messaging for the show. An early quotation gives clients the ability to review costs, align their budget, and confirm details with their internal decision-making teams well in advance. 

“One of the biggest complaints in the industry is overtime charges and rush fees, and while we may not be able to eliminate them for every project, we can do a better job of lessening their impact by early planning.” said Spangler. “The phrase 'measure twice, cut once,' comes to mind.  While its used commonly in woodworking, it’s also very true that one should prepare and plan in a thorough way before moving forward on any project. 

Similar to estimating, being able to schedule work flow allows for better collaboration between client’s needs, the creative team’s vision, and production’s economizing techniques in detailingProper scheduling and workflow also helps with continuity of the CAD technician and his relationship with his drawings, meaning they do not have to start and stop as often. 

Starting earlier on detailing will also enable clients to meet show organizer deadlines without last minute rushing, which can mean cost savings on the show floor. It allows clients increased discovery time, will resolve more last-minute changes, and helps avoid rush feesFor new build items, early detailing allows for the possibility to find a less expensive way to build it instead of rushing it out. 

All of this to say, planning ahead is always a good idea, now more than ever.  

 
If you missed part one of this series, you can read our design team’s perspective here 

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