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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Exhibit Concepts

How to Effectively Light Up at Trade Show Booth

Exhibit Concepts December 07, 2018

It was the great William Shakespeare in the play As You Like It who began a famous monologue by saying, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” A visit to a local theater for any sort of production will involve just that: a production. From the music to the actors the lighting, it’s quite the undertaking. Each of these elements is carefully selected to create the ideal environment. However, it also involves a big budget.

When it comes to lighting your trade show booth, there is also a budget involved: one that needs to cover more elements than just lights. This is why it’s so important to think about the context and environment in which your booth will be standing in order to find the best focal point and lighting type.

TYPES OF LIGHTS

There are a variety of ways to incorporate lighting into a trade show booth, but some of the most popular options include:

Accent: As the name suggests, this is simply a way to complement the booth architecture, reinforce brand colors or simply to improve the overall look of the booth. Accent lighting isn’t the start attraction per se, but it does play a great supporting role in the booth by defining spaces or back lighting areas to spotlight features like shelving or a welcome desk.

Product: If your booth includes product displays, it’s important to draw the visitor’s eye (and attention) to your product. This is best achieved through lighting effects, whether it’s a spotlight, down light or even up light. There are plenty of options and it just depends on your product and how it is best lit.

Theatrical: Much like the stage lighting mentioned earlier, some booths require this type of show atmosphere, complete with spotlights and lights coordinated to sound or music. A great example of effective theatrical lighting is Omron’s presence at CES 2018. Their booth featured Forpheus, a ping pong playing robot that was introduced to the crowd during the show. When the demonstration was about to begin, the main lights were brought down and the theatrical lights came up, drawing the eye straight to the main attraction.  

Aside from choosing the best type of lights for your space, it’s also important to think about factors that could have a major impact on your overall budget. Here are some things to consider:

  • What are you emphasizing? Are you introducing a new product that needs to be highlighted?
  • Is accent lighting enough to make your booth stand out or do you need additional lights?
  • What is your show schedule? (The price of show services lighting varies by city.)
  • Can your lights be pre-wired to save money? (Any lighting integrated into the exhibit build will result in higher prices, but this will save money on the show floor.)
  • What venue restrictions do you need to account for?

Every trade show booth needs lighting, but every situation is unique. Working with an exhibit house to choose the best option to accent and highlight your space is the best way to ensure a successful outcome.

National Museum of the Pacific War: Remembering George H. W. Bush

Exhibit Concepts December 03, 2018

As the nation mourns the passing of former President George H.W. Bush and tributes are being shared about his life of public service, we thought it fitting to share images from the gallery named in his honor at the National Museum of the Pacific War and the ribbon cutting ceremony from 2009.

Located in Fredericksburg, Texas, the National Museum of the Pacific War is an immersive experience for visitors. On December 7, 2009, sixty-eight years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Museum hosted the Grand Re-Opening of the newly expanded George H.W. Bush Gallery. The ceremony was attended by survivors of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, drawing a crowd of over 5,000 people. The late former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara, along with Texas Governor Rick Perry, were on hand that day to cut the ribbon.

Exhibit Concepts was honored to fabricate the exhibits for the National Museum of the Pacific War, one of the largest projects we’ve undertaken as a company. Our team was privileged to be in attendance that day for the ribbon cutting, honoring the late former president. Exhibit Concepts has continued to work with the National Museum of the Pacific War to renovate and update portions of the museum, including updates to the George H.W. Bush Gallery and Theater.

How to Create a Trade Show Request for Proposal (RFP)

Exhibit Concepts November 30, 2018

So, you need a new trade show booth. Asking your peers for recommendations, looking in magazines and directories for award winners or searching Google for exhibit houses is a good start to build a potential candidate list. But, if you aren’t ready to sign with a new partner based on a recommendation, your next step is likely writing a new build request for proposal (RFP). There is no industry standard for this type of request, but there are some key elements you should include to gather the best responses. And remember, you are looking for the best fit for your company and a partner that you will be working with for several years, so you want to tailor the RFP your company’s unique needs and market position.

WHAT TO INCLUDE

A good RFP should be clear, concise, and articulate your needs and expectations to potential bidders. Start with an explanation of the project, and define the obligations and requirements of the successful bidder who will be selected to design, build, and install your exhibit. An RFP should also include a standard response format, which will make it easier for you to evaluate responses and compare them to one another. Likewise, you should explain how each proposal and bidder will be evaluated so expectations are clear.

SETTING CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

To get the best responses from prospective exhibit houses, it’s important to set expectations up front. This is best achieved by factors like:

PERSONALIZATION: There are several companies that offer a portal for submitting RFPs. While there are advantages to this approach, it can be fraught with technical issues and bidders are not able to showcase their unique capabilities and talent. Remember, you are looking for the best creative and execution fit for your company. You are not buying a commodity product. Instead, consider using a spreadsheet to collect responses. This gives you the ability to personalize your questions and allow users to send responses via email versus navigating a portal system.

TIMING: How much time should you give companies to respond to your RFP? This depends on how involved it is and if it includes a design in the proposal. Include a timeline when sending out an RFP, that clearly shows the date the RFP is released, when responses are due, and other important factors, like when (and if) an in-person presentation will take place. Typically, companies set deadlines for the return of documents and designs staggered days or even weeks apart to give companies time to submit each to deliver against your objectives. Be realistic in setting your timelines. If you are expecting design submissions, then allow ample time for creativity. This isn’t an area you want to short change. Consider that the good exhibit houses are busy.

EXTENSIONS: Speaking of timing, is it ever appropriate to extend the deadline during this process? This also depends. There might be extenuating circumstances such as technical issues with the portal or other issues such as illness or travel delays. It’s best to assess each request on a case by case basis.

INVITATIONS: While it may be tempting to invite as many companies as possible, it’s best to avoid a “cattle call” when searching for an exhibit house. This “wide net” approach tends to result in awards going to the lowest bidder and as such, the best exhibit houses won’t even participate. Take the time to do some upfront research to narrow the field to those houses that are likely the best fit and then send invitations to a limited number of companies to simplify the decision-making process.

WHAT TO INCLUDE

Some of the key components of a good trade show RFP include:

  • Background Information: Give bidders as much as information about your positioning, current marketing, and any other relevant data to help them with an approach.
  • Budget: Every project has one, so it’s important to lay out either a concrete budget or at least provide a range and be clear about what is included? Is the budget for the build only or turn-key?
  • Timeline: From start to finish, this is where you should lay out clear dates for submitting a proposal, choosing a partner, and attending the trade show or series of shows.t

This is just the beginning, however. A complete trade show RFP includes much more information, so we created two Excel templates to help you get started:

The Trade Show New Build RFP Template is ideal if you are attending one show and want an exhibit house to focus solely on your presence there. This is a shorter form template that covers basic capability questions. If you are looking for a new design and engagement, this is your template.

The Trade Show Program RFP Template is best for larger companies who attend multiple shows a year (commonly referred to as a program) and have extensive requirements for their exhibit house. This comprehensive template covers all aspects of business operations in depth to help you choose the best exhibit house. If you intend to move all your existing property to a new exhibit house, this is your template.

Timelines & Teamwork: The AMSE Story

Exhibit Concepts November 19, 2018

The opening of a museum is always an exciting moment. The doors open to members of the public, bringing the vision to life and the story to the masses. But there’s a lot that leads up to that moment, to ensure that opening is successful, and the museum is ready for said visitors. Ideally that is many years in the making, but that’s not always the case.

When the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) wanted to create a new museum to replace their existing institution, they had just one year to complete the project. It was going to be challenging, but the team of Hilferty & Associates, Exhibit Concepts, Boston Media Productions and Communications Electronic Design “took the dare” to design, fabricate and build out the museum in one year. Like so many other projects, the AMSE was a group effort.

This dynamic group of partners were brought together for exhibit development and design, metalwork, graphics, and media production. It was teamwork from start to finish; when all was said and done the project was actually completed in just 8 months start to finish. Exhibit Concepts was responsible for exhibit fabrication and installation in the 6,200 square foot facility.

Typically, this would be a three-year project, but its completion is due to each company’s willingness to work simultaneously, making teamwork and collaboration a crucial component for success.

Located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, this museum shares a complex story that includes the development of the nuclear bomb through the Manhattan Project and continued innovations of the Oak Ridge National Library. Incorporating a variety of interactives and AV components, the new museum engages visitors in scientific discovery. The museum gives a dramatic overview of historic Oak Ridge sites including the Manhattan Project, and the modern-day facilities that are continuing the ground-breaking work.

Large graphics and artifact displays help tell the story of nuclear fusion and fission, along with scientific developments pioneered in Oak Ridge, including renewable energy and super computers.

Can Closing Off a Trade Show Booth Draw People In?

Exhibit Concepts October 31, 2018

Walking a mile in Dorothy’s slippers in The Wizard of Oz might make you believe the great Wizard of Oz is a powerful force. However, a pivotal scene unfolds when Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man arrive in the Emerald City. A booming voice surrounds the group, telling them to return another day. The message seems to emanate from all corners of the room. Dorothy’s trusty dog Toto is the one who reveals the truth: the great and powerful Oz is just a man. When Toto pulls back the curtain he shouts, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” The ruse is up, and the mystery is gone. But it brings up an important part of human nature: our curiosity gets the best of us and we can’t help but peek behind the curtain.

Surprisingly, this is a great way to draw people into a trade show booth if executed correctly. Creating an air of mystery or even exclusivity is a great way to draw a crowd. There are a few things to keep in mind to really draw in visitors with your special brand of mystery.

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Incorporate Unique Architecture

Surrounding your booth with unique, eye catching elements is a great way to draw people in. Making people wonder WHAT a booth is made of or even getting them to say “WOW” is a great way to ensure they give your space a second look. Whether its unique structures like fabric covered panels lit from above, or the video walls outside Samsung’s booth at CES, these elements beckon you to take a closer look.

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Encourage “Window Shopping”

If your booth space faces an aisle, consider utilizing the outer walls to display product or service offerings in a unique way. Much like the lure of seeing a great outfit on a mannequin, this can act as a draw for those looking for exactly what you offer—even if they are just walking by. Unique product displays with light are a great way to catch visitor’s eye with both lighting and color. Another great option is to incorporate translucent fabric that partially obscures a view of the booth. This “hint” is enough to pique interest.

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Don’t Forget the Payoff

Obscuring a view of your booth and piquing their interest is great, but there needs to be something inside the booth that seals the deal. Whether it’s a big reveal, a unique experience, or a product demonstration, make sure it’s worth the effort to get inside. Remember that booth with the fabric covered panels we mentioned above? It had a car interactive inside that drew a big crowd with hands-on demonstrations throughout the show featuring a software simulation that felt like you were driving down a busy city street. It had all the elements of a successful mystery: a large architectural element that caught the eye, drew visitors in, with a big payoff inside.

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Creating an air of mystery is a great way to not only flex your creative muscles, but to think of the visitor experience - starting in the aisle and ending with a meaningful conversation that leads to a great relationship.

Checking In: Were We Right About Trade Show Trends for 2018?

Exhibit Concepts October 17, 2018

You don’t need a crystal ball to tell the future. In fact, making an educated guess is possible through research and thought. While it’s true that anyone can make a prediction, but making the right prediction is where things get a little tricky.

As 2018 winds down, we are already thinking about trade show trends for 2019. But before that happens, we wanted to look back at our predictions for trade show trends in 2018. Were we right? Were we kinda right? Did we miss the mark?

Trend 1: Experiential Design

Were we right? Yes, but with a twist.

It’s still true that great booth design is not simply about architecture. It’s about the total visitor experience, from start to finish and spans well beyond the confines of the booth. Time and time again, clients ask for a space that will not only draw a crowd but draw the RIGHT crowd. This is achieved through strategic engagement that could incorporate technology or invites visitors and prospects to engage their senses and leave with a memorable experience that will motivate them to act.

The twist is this: great experiential design must evolve and push the envelope to remain relevant and speak to the right audience. Travis Stanton, editor of EXHIBITOR Magazine says it best:

“The challenge of engineering legitimate experiences has never been more difficult, and it's only going to get harder. In fact, many of the things we would have labeled as "experiential" a few years ago wouldn't even ante up alongside the experiences readily available today. Consumers' experience addiction makes the jobs of exhibit and event professionals exponentially more difficult. But it also offers a silver lining: As consumers increasingly seek out and come to expect immersive experiences, the demand for experiential efforts within the modern-day marketing mix is likely to increase.” 

Trend 2: A Strategic Approach

Were we right? Absolutely.

For most companies, events on the trade show calendar are not isolated projects, they are part of a much bigger picture. This approach has been a big hit this year, with companies realizing the incredible value of a consistent message across every event and environment. This translates from the show floor to lobbies, customer experience centers, mobile vehicle tours, and demand generation campaigns.

Trend 3: The Power of Light

Were we right? Kind of.

LED lighting comes in many forms and offers both versatility and a cost-effective solution. There are many options beyond LED that offer brightness and quite literally shine a light on a trade show booth. However, lighting is an investment and it can be heavily dictated by show rules and exhibit hall lighting. For some clients, it may make sense to invest elsewhere, like in technology that will turn heads.

So, it’s accurate to say lighting matters—but it could be trumped by another (more important) expense when the budget gets tight.

Trend 4: Technology: The Sky is the Limit

Were we right? You bet.

Tech is and will continue to be the hottest game in town. Projection mapping, AR, VR, and OLED monitors continue to dominate tech-driven exhibit spaces. Technology is constantly evolving, and exhibitors have and will continue to ride that wave to make a big impression on the show floor.

Trend 5: Engaging the Senses

Were we right? Yes and No.

It will always be true that a great experience is one that is multi-sensory. This could mean things like incorporating tactile elements that are inviting to touch, incorporating sound into the booth, or piping a nostalgic scent into the air. While it may be difficult to involve all the senses, a few of them paired together can be a compelling experience. We’ve seen booths that invite attendees to touch, visualize, and even listen.

One of the trickiest sensory experiences to execute successfully is scent. First, it has to be true to the brand; for example, a mortgage technology company trade show booth with a smell could be a bit of a stretch. Also, it may prove challenging to maintain a scent in a vast convention center and these days, many people have scent sensitivities. This isn’t to say incorporating scent isn’t possible or is a bad idea, it’s simply that it could be more difficult to execute successfully.

Case Study: Creative Trade Show Solutions

Exhibit Concepts October 09, 2018

In a perfect world, an exhibit hall would be light and bright with ceilings as tall as skyscrapers. There would be no restrictions, no poles to design around, and no rules whatsoever. Unfortunately, most trade shows have a list of restrictions and limitations, and sometimes you find yourself in a hotel with low ceilings and dim lighting. But that does not mean they prevent you from having a successful event. And it certainly doesn’t mean there is a limitation on creativity. So, when a client asked for a solution, creativity was the key to success.LexisNexis-0429 WEB

The Client: LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a leader in providing essential information to help customers across industry and government assess, predict, and manage risk.

The Need: A booth that would enhance their center position while conveying their message with a professional appearance despite the hotel venue with a low ceiling.

Our Solution: A beMatrix system was used for the booth structure to facilitate a one day set up and tear down. This system allows for quick installation and dismantle and is fitted with custom graphics for a branded experience. The brand pillars were represented throughout the booth and explained with graphics in the LexisNexis signature brand red. The ceiling panels of the booth were left open to expose a metal cage installation that reinforced the concept of security.

For an additional pop in the dark, confined space, custom light bars were built and installed throughout. From the reception desk to the ceiling, light made this booth stand out from the crowd.

The Takeaway: Location is everything, but it doesn’t have to stifle creativity. The real world is full of obstacles and problems just waiting to be solved by those willing to think outside of the box.

Birthplace of Aviation: The Wright Brothers National Museum

Exhibit Concepts October 03, 2018

The story of aviation begins with two brothers from Dayton, Ohio. These two aviation pioneers, Wilbur and Orville Wright, were inventors, engineers, and true pioneers. The pair is credited with the invention, building, and flight of the world’s first successful airplane.

Their legacy left an impact the world over and their imprint is significant in Dayton, Ohio. The brothers’ home, Hawthorne Hill, and their bicycle shop are in Dayton, as was the John W. Berry Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center in Carillon Historical Park. That all changed recently, when Dayton became the official birthplace of aviation thanks to a federal designation.

Now, the center known as the Wright Brothers National Museum, complete with a designation from the National Parks Service. The new name and updated facility was recently unveiled in a ceremony held at Carillon Park in Dayton. The “National Museum” designation is the result of years of Congressional workings and approval from Congress, the executive branch, and the federal government.

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The unveiling ceremony wasn’t just for the new designation, it also included a series of renovations to the Wright Cycle Co. building. This building houses the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark and several other personal items from Wilber and Orville Wright. Exhibit Concepts worked alongside Carillon Park staff to create graphics and display cases that updated the existing exhibits.

4 Ways to Captivate a Trade Show Audience

Exhibit Concepts September 13, 2018

It’s true: drawing a crowd is a key component of a successful trade show. Attracting the masses is a great way to ensure your message is delivered to many people, but it’s also important to have a plan that gets that message to the right people. It’s the old “quality over quantity” concept. Trade shows can be an overwhelming place for attendees, and the last thing you want is for your company’s solution to their problem to be lost in the shuffle. So, once the crowd is there, here are four key ways to keep their attention and create a memorable experience for your target audience:

REMEMBER YOUR PERSONAS

Identifying your ideal customer, their problems, and how your company can solve them is a crucial component of creating personas. Understanding this information and working internally to get your team on the same page is a great first step to enacting a persona-focused strategy. A great way to identify your personas on the floor is by developing a series of questions to get to the heart of an attendee’s needs and pain points. Then, you can work to help them understand your company’s unique solution.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Sure, serving free drinks while a DJ plays will draw people in. But, are they the right people? Can you have a meaningful conversation over said music? Do you even want to have a conversation? It’s easy to think that more is better, but a simple yet memorable experience can be what separates you from the competition. Think about an experience that will keep customers engaged, excited, and even educate them on your offering along the way. This meaningful experience will draw in the right people and keep you on the consideration list when an opportunity comes along.

REMEMBER THE WHY

Attending a trade show is often a major investment for your company. You probably go to several shows each year, but have you ever stopped to consider WHY you attend? Remembering your WHY is an important aspect in business, but it becomes even more so when attending a show. Keep your goals in mind throughout the planning process, and even ask you work to train your booth staff and interact with clients.

WHAT’S THE TAKEAWAY?

Not all memorable experiences are created equally. You could be remembered for the wrong reason, or worse yet, not remembered at all. So, not only do you keep your goals and your WHY in mind, you also need to think about what attendees will walk away knowing or understanding about your brand. One big, compelling takeaway is key here. It will ensure your message isn’t lost in the shuffle of the show, and that you and your company are in a consideration set down the road when your customers are ready for their problems to be solved.

So, the next time you think about your trade show presence remember: a crowd is great, but a group of the right people hearing the right message is always better.

Should We Sponsor the Branded Napkins?

Exhibit Concepts September 07, 2018

It’s a question that faces nearly every marketer: is a sponsorship worth the investment? It can be difficult to commit to dedicating your budget to an opportunity when your return on investment isn’t quite clear, but there are some ways to make a wise choice.

Trade shows, conferences, meetings and even events typically offer a wide variety of sponsorship opportunities. These could be branded items like lanyards, registration bags, and other tangible items with your company’s logo and messaging. Other sponsorship opportunities offer more personal interaction, such as the ability to make podium remarks before introducing the key note speaker.

When faced with so many choices, it can be difficult for a marketer to decide which sponsorship to invest in and how to gauge if it is worth the investment. With sponsorships, there is no easy or tried and true answer. Like so many other things, it depends!

REMEMBER YOUR GOALS

When considering a sponsorship and choosing the best option, start by revisiting your event goals and objectives. The creative brief is a great tool to capture details about the event and exactly what you and your company are trying to accomplish. The right sponsorship can enhance your presence, make up for a less than ideal booth location or reach an audience that may not attend the exhibit hall.

PERFECT THE PERSONA

Attendee personas are another important consideration when evaluating your sponsorship choices. Having insight into attendee interests and motivations can be an important determinant. For example, are they inclined to participate in networking events or are they more motivated supporting community service projects?

Think through the following questions as you evaluate sponsorships for your next event:

  • What are my quantifiable goals and objectives for this event? Will I be able to achieve them with our booth presence alone?
  • What other advertising and marketing is already planned? Will it reach my ideal target audience?
  • What new news, engagements or events are planned for my booth to draw attendees in?
  • How many of my ideal target audience members attend the exhibit hall? How much time do they spend there? Where else are they spending their time?
  • How do my ideal target audience members spend their time during the event?
  • What types of sponsorship opportunities make sense for my situation; for example:
  • Prior to the event to drive awareness and interest
  • Prior to the event to drive attendance
  • During the event to drive brand recognition
  • After the event to drive brand recognition
  • How lasting should the sponsorship experience be? For example, we could sponsor the luncheon and perhaps be recognized from the podium, have signage and napkins. Another option might be to sponsor the lanyards that are visible during the event. Or, we could sponsor a water bottle that might be taken back to the office and used for months.
  • How do the different sponsorship options compare in terms of apples to apples comparison of reach?

Whatever path you chose, it is most important that you synchronize your event strategy and spend with your objectives and your ideal target attendee. That will help you to get the most bang for your buck!

The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News