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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Exhibit Concepts

Trade Show & Event Marketing Manager: A Day in the Life

Exhibit Concepts February 21, 2018

Have you ever wondered what a typical day is like for a Trade Show or Event Marketing Manager? Is your daily experience similar to your peers or are you experiencing something atypical? Everyone has those days when you feel alone in the world, like you are the only one have crazy work hours, pressures, or juggle multiple project plans and deadlines. Based on a recent survey that Exhibit Concepts, Inc. conducted among trade show and event professionals, it’s clear the role is very dynamic with every day bringing new demands and new challenges requiring a diverse set of skills.

We compiled the results into an infographic you can download by clicking the button below.

Download Infographic

 

Respondents in the survey reported that no two days were exactly the same. The majority of their time is spent planning events and sitting in meetings. The role requires a wide variety of skills with the top three most required being:

  • Detail orientation
  • Managing multiple projects and tasks simultaneously
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

However, planning and executing trade shows and events is rarely a solo act. Respondents reported they are part of a decision-making committee between 53% - 60% of the time, depending on the type of event.  Likewise, they use a wide variety of information sources to stay current and learn about new information for their jobs including industry trade publications, internet searches, and their colleagues.

Despite the diversity of each organization represented in the survey and the ever changing aspects of the role, respondents did have similar responses when asked about processes and parts of their job that could be more efficient.  Issues related to brand management – including managing multiple brands at a single event while expressing a cohesive message – was the most common improvement area raised. Another top opportunity for improvement was around communication – between senior leaders and the event team, between divisions, between sales and marketing and between the event team and other marketers.

Despite all the demands, deadlines and managing multiple priorities simultaneously, respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction in their role. 56% percent of respondents expected to be at their same company in 5 years either in the same role or a more senior role with similar responsibilities. Another seven percent expected to be at the same company but in a completely different role.

Regardless of where you stand in the trade show and event marketing manager equation, one thing is clear: you are not alone.

Want tips on how to plan and execute a successful trade show? Download our 10 steps white paper HERE.

Top 5 Trade Show Trends for 2018

Exhibit Concepts February 08, 2018

It often feels like the only constant in the face-to-face marketing industry is that it’s continuously evolving. New design trends, innovative use of materials, technology advances-it is challenging to stay on top of the latest innovations. As we did last year, let’s look at the biggest trade show trends we can expect for the trade show industry in 2018.

trade show trends experience design

Trend One: Experiential Design

Great booth design is not simply about architecture. It’s about the total visitor’s experience, from start to finish- and beyond the confines of a booth. The use of new materials and textures that enhance the experience promises to be a game changer in the coming year. Many companies realize a trade show environment is just that—an environment-- and it is important to treat it as such. While it is true technology is a major part of our lives and trade shows, a focus on a “human centric” space is important. It could be a simple as a booth design and finishes that look and feel comfortable to visitors. It could also mean adding engagement interactives that enhance a person’s senses. Rather than starting with square footage and numbers of demo stations, the trend is to focus on the attendee experience first. 

trade show trends strategic approach

Trend Two: A Strategic Approach

Rather than approaching each event on the trade show calendar as an isolated project, we believe a new approach will take over in 2018. Experienced trade show managers are recognizing the value of taking a holistic, strategic approach to the entire calendar of trade shows, events and campaigns. We call this a program. However, a successful program isn’t simply about organizing the show calendar into tiers to maximize spend and effectiveness. It is also about aligning different elements of the marketing plan so that they work in concert with each other.

power of light trade show trends

Trend Three: The Power of Light

Light is an incredible tool, impactful both by its presence and absence. Finding new and creative ways to quite literally shine a light on products and spaces truly brings them to life. This was a big takeaway from CES 2018 and a trend that we anticipate will play a starring role in 2018. Look for exhibitors to dim the lights so products offerings are the star of the show or even turn them up with unique lighting elements that make you say, “How did they do THAT?” This is a fun (and often not overly costly) way to bring a unique element into a booth that captures attention and draws people in for a closer look.

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Trend Four: Technology: The Sky is the Limit

From OLED monitors to projection mapping and AR, technology is evolving at a staggering pace. While we don’t know where it will go next, we believe 2018 will be all about showing off the latest and greatest technology, programs, and equipment. Projection mapping is a unique way to project imagery and light onto a static object, bringing it to life. And LG’s OLED experience at CES 2018 was a breathtaking example of showcasing the awe-inspiring power of a product offering.

5Trends2018.png

Trend Five: Engaging the Senses

Much like the first trend, a trade show can be a multi-sensory experience, rather than engaging only one or two senses. This goes well beyond typical hospitality. Think tactile elements like wood or cardboard, paired with beautiful sound, stunning lights, and a fragrance that sparks a beloved memory. While engaging all of the senses simultaneously could be overwhelming, finding different ways to pull out those unique elements isn’t—and can bring a space to life. Look for sights, sounds, smells, and experiences that wow in this category.

Want to look at last year’s trends? Read our Top 5 Trade Show Trends for 2017, and then check out the updates we made in the Top Trade Show Trends for 2018 Planning.

Exhibit Concepts is headed to EXHIBITORLIVE 2018!

Exhibit Concepts February 06, 2018

EXHIBITORLIVE is the Trade Show and Corporate Event Marketing Conference featuring the industry’s largest exhibit hall with nearly 300 exhibitors and an educational event second to none with 180+ sessions and workshops. The exhibit hall is where you will find the latest products and resources shaping the future of exhibiting and corporate event programs. And the educational tracks are designed for marketing professionals to learn techniques and best practices to hone their skills.

Our team will be onsite for the show in Vegas at booth 1101. In addition to our presence on the show floor, five Exhibit Concepts leaders are presenting eight diverse educational sessions. EXHIBITORLIVE offers the industry's only university-affiliated professional certification program, with more than 3,000 candidates currently enrolled.

If you are headed to the show and want to meet with our team, you can find more information here: https://www.exhibitconcepts.com/el2018

Monday, February 26

M510: A Trip Around the World – Must Knows for Global Exhibiting

Presented by Jeff Hannah, our VP of International Services, Commercial Interiors & Creative

Take a fast and fun trip around the world as we discover fascinating insights into seven major world destinations! You'll improve your working knowledge and increase your confidence in handling shows and events in Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, São Paulo, and other locations. 

M512: Traveling Abroad: Important Do’s and Don’ts

Presented by Jeff Hannah

Whether you are managing your own personal travel or that of your executive team or colleagues, there are some important do's and don'ts that you should know about traveling abroad. This knowledge will help keep you safe, save you money, avoid typical scams and make your experience go more smoothly. Leave this session, feeling prepared to travel internationally.

Tuesday, February 27

T505: Global Frameworks: Marketing from the Context of Culture – Part I

Presented by Jeff Hannah

Understanding national culture is key to creating a successful international trade show program, while neglecting subtle nuances in cross-cultural business can damage business relationships and nullify marketing efforts. Learn to see things from a totally different perspective by recognizing that all business is conducted within the context of culture. We will share practical insights to help you understand the cultures you are trying to reach, and share strategies for building bridges across cultural divides. 

T506: Global Frameworks: Marketing from the Context of Culture - Part II 

Presented by Jeff Hannah

Understanding national culture is key to creating a successful international trade show program. Recognizing that all business is conducted within the context of culture, we provide practical insights to help you understand the cultures you are trying to reach-and strategies to overcome cultural divides that could diminish the success of your trade shows and events. This session also explores specific cultural profiles of China, Mexico, Germany and the UAE.

T445: Letting Your Leaders Lead – Leads to the Best Results

Presented by Kelli Glasser, our President and CEO

Whether you report to a micromanager, or you personally display micromanager tendencies, this session is for you. Learn how the "un-micromanager"-who doesn't hover over people or dictate how to do tasks-gets better team and organizational results, improves productivity and engagement, and reduces everyone's stress level.

T650: You’ve Been Tasked with Managing your First New Build – Now What?

Presented by Dom Conti, our Production Director and Jeff Korchinski, our VP of Sales

This is a must-attend session for people embarking on their first exhibit build or that want to improve their process. Hear a fabricator share creative-yet-efficient ways to control costs while maintaining the craftsmanship and trade show presence your boss expects and your brand deserves. Take away a top 10 list that will reduce your stress and ensure you achieve your objectives. 

Wednesday, February 28

W647: Rent Your Booth and Still Own Your Program?

Presented by Jeff Korchinski

There is more to a great exhibit rental program than simply choosing a killer design and a great price. Benefit from the experience of others to learn best practices and understand how to maximize your investment and reduce the risks associated with your decision. 

Thursday, March 1

R348: Sales and Marketing Alignment: How to Get-and Stay- on the Same Page

Presented by Ellen Campbell-Kaminski, our VP of Marketing

It's no secret that alignment between sales and marketing is critical to optimizing business results. However, most organizations find it very difficult to achieve said alignment. Join us to discuss three strategies you can use to get sales and marketing on the same page.

How to Evaluate Your Event Marketing Program

Exhibit Concepts January 23, 2018

The most common (and difficult!) question asked by Event Marketers is:

How do I evaluate the success of my face-to-face marketing program?

Which is closely followed by: How do I capture the right data?

Like so many things, it depends. Specifically, it depends on your goals and objectives for your program.  For example, if your event is primarily planned for lead generation purposes, then it will be important to have a mechanism to capture leads, score them based on pre-set criteria, and follow them through the sales cycle to evaluate quality of the leads and how they contribute to sales. On the other hand, if you are looking to build brand awareness and activation, you might conduct pre and post brand awareness surveys or track total visitors and social media engagement.

OBJECTIVES

Regardless of your program's goals, the first step is to document quantifiable objectives. Be as specific as possible and base your objectives on historic, real information. Another important consideration is to understand what is different about your program this year that would affect results versus prior years.  For example, if your company has exhibited at a particular trade show for several years and each year you collected approximately 100 qualified leads at the show, then all things being equal, it stands to reason that you will collect approximately 100 leads this year. However, if you have added a sponsorship or an integrated social media campaign, you will likely generate more leads and should adjust your objective accordingly.

With respect to the point about being specific, all booth visitor interactions are not created equal. It is important to define what "counts" as a qualified lead.  Depending on your product line and the attendee personas at the show, any visitor who exchanges information (e.g. completes a survey or allows a badge scan) with you would count as a lead. In other cases, you might define a qualified lead as an attendee who has overtly expressed that they are shopping for a solution or that they intend to issue an RFP next month and are vetting potential candidates. You may also have a highly profiled target list of prospects and your objective is to secure prescheduled meetings with a specific number of those prospects.

As much as your focus is on quality engagements during the event, don't forget about the importance of your pre-, during and post- event marketing activities. Establishing goals and measuring results here is important as well.

DATA CAPTURE

With your objectives clearly set, the next order of business is laying out exactly how you intend to capture actual results to measure against your objectives. Here there are two considerations: 

What do you need to achieve?

What have you historically achieved?

If there is a major difference between those two measures, you want to make sure that there is something new and different in your program to help make up the difference.

Establishing baseline measures is important at this stage. Select a date (ideally the end of a period to make it easier on you) and record your current metrics. For example, record the number of LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers your company has as of that date. Use whatever social media and digital channels are important to your company to establish a baseline measurement.

You very likely will supplement your exhibit with email and web landing pages so you will want to make sure that each of these tactics is set up for tracking and attribution. You also want to think about how long after the event you will continue to measure results and attribute them to the event.

At the actual event, you need to have your data capture method selected, tested and ready to go before the show opens. If you plan to qualify and score leads based upon set criteria, make sure your lead capture app has been programmed for those attributes.  For example, if urgency is a key criterion as to how you score a lead, make sure that you have a mechanism for the attendee to submit that information or for your brand ambassadors to capture it.

LEAD FOLLOW-UP & VALIDATION

It is important to reach out to all visitors in a timely fashion, thanking them for their time and, as appropriate, provide follow up material. For most visitors, your follow up material is relatively general because they are not active in the sales cycle. But for those attendees who represent bona fide opportunities, you want your follow up to be timely and specific to their needs.

The validation step is about objectively reviewing all leads captured at the event and modifying lead score if necessary. Also, if your product is purchased by a company vs. individuals, you want to consolidate leads by company to reduce counting duplicates. You may also find that you want to remove certain visitors that you know will never become customers.

ONGOING TRACKING

Depending on how you stated your objectives, as well as your sales cycle, the task now is to periodically evaluate results. If your goal was brand awareness, you likely set a timeline upon which you wanted to see an increase in awareness. In that case, you would make your assessment and document your results. If your goal was lead generation, then you will want to capture # of leads as a result of the event, but then periodically report on how many of those leads resulted in sales and at what dollar amount? For transactional businesses, you might only measure lead conversions to sales for 30 days or perhaps 3 months.  For products and services with longer sales cycles, you might continue to track sales for two or three years.

ANALYSIS & STOP, START, CONTINUE

Perhaps the most important thing you can do when measuring your face-to-face program results is to provide contextual analysis of what worked and what needs improvement. While it is very gratifying to be able to say, "My program generated 30% more leads than our goal," it is important to be able to articulate why that happened so that you can continue to improve your program.  Consider any changes you made to the program, tactics you added, altered messaging, more experienced brand ambassadors or other changes that would help to explain your results.

An important exercise to conduct while the event is still fresh in everyone's memory is Start, Stop, Continue. This is a framework to capture what worked well and should be continued in future events, what didn't work as well and should be eliminated from the program and what other ideas might be added in the future.

 

Reporting on the results of your trade show can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming if you follow this simple formula:

  1. Establish quantifiable objectives
  2. Develop the plan to capture results
  3. Set your baseline
  4. Validate and follow-up as appropriate
  5. Continue ongoing measurement
  6. Explain why you achieved your results

EXHIBITORLIVE All-Access Passes Giveaway 

Exhibit Concepts January 12, 2018

We’ve already given away two EXHIBITORLIVE All-Access passes, and we are looking for three more lucky recipients. The passes are an incredible opportunity for trade show and event marketing professionals looking to expand their industry knowledge at the annual EXHIBITORLIVE event taking place in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay February 25 through March 1, 2018.

Pass winners will receive full access to the exhibit hall, Peer2Peer Roundtables, workshops, and unlimited educational sessions. This is an incredible opportunity for attendees to sharpen their skills, continue their education, and interact with their peers. The program includes 182 professional development sessions, 151 world-class practitioners, and up to 5 days of interactive learning and networking.

The passes, valued at $2,295 each, are part of Exhibit Concepts’ ongoing initiative to invest in the educational side of the trade show and corporate event industry.

To be entered to win one of the EXHIBITORLIVE All-Access passes, visit https://www.exhibitconcepts.com/el2018 Contest ends Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 11:59 pm EST.

7 Success Factors for Sales & Marketing Alignment

Exhibit Concepts January 05, 2018

This is a portion of the presentation, Sales and Marketing: How to Get-and Stay- on the Same Page, to be presented by Ellen Campbell-Kaminski at ExhbitorLIVE Thursday, March 1, 2018. For more information on this session and to register to attend, click HERE.

Sales and Marketing organizations that are well-aligned, collaborating together to achieve their goals, and delivering on corporate objectives: it is a beautiful thing. It's also something that most sales and marketing executives dream of and aspire to, but rarely achieve.

There are many reasons why alignment is so difficult to achieve in most B2B organizations but rather than dwell on the negatives, here are seven critical success factors necessary for alignment to take hold. As is the case in so many business culture issues, it starts at the top. The examples and behaviors that senior leaders demonstrate set the tone for the entire organization.

Assume Positive Intent

Very few people actually want someone else to fail. While questions and suggestions across departments can seem mildly offensive or even treading on another's territory, that is rarely the case. Most questions and suggestions are well intentioned. Focus on the spirit of the question. In most cases, it will be clear that the questioner was legitimately trying to help rather than point out shortcomings.

Be Open and Transparent

Nothing can derail alignment more quickly than withholding information. This immediately leads to both distrust and doubt. Share your data. Explain your sources and calculations. Document assumptions. Socialize your plans and priorities. Solicit and accept advice. Openly talk through differences and work toward mutually agreeable resolutions.

Shared Goals and KPIs

Not all objectives are the same for sales and marketing teams. Marketing will likely have specific objectives related to brand awareness or social media engagement. Likewise, sales may have tactical objectives related to numbers of first appointments. Still, there are key objectives that should be shared by the two departments around revenue, new customers and/or retention rates. In these cases, it is vital that the measurements are the same or you will spend unnecessary time attempting to reconcile the data.

Choose Your Battles

There are some issues that are material and need to be worked through and others that are not worth the angst. Focus energy on those areas that have a material impact on achieving your objectives. Get to the other things when time allows but those are not the ones to escalate.

Pilot First

Nothing drives a wedge between sales and marketing faster than an ill-conceived plan or campaign. Start small with a few sales people or one sales region. Take all of the feedback and learnings from that small market and adjust the campaign accordingly.  Then, when you roll out your program more broadly, you will have something that is proven to work and the added benefit of sales people who can attest to the program's success. (see Find Evangelists)

Find Evangelists

Sales people are most trusting of other sales people who walk in their same shoes, face the same competitive pressures and the same customer reluctance. Finding sales people, ideally at different levels in the sales organization, that are willing to test a new program and then serve as a champion within the sales organization is key.

Workshops

Whenever possible, whether setting annual plans or working on the details of an upcoming trade show, conduct joint planning workshops. The practical feedback from sales will be invaluable as they are closest to the customer and have insight as to what is most likely to work and where there could be resistance. Plus, there is likely more buy-in when they have had a hand in developing the program in the first place.

At the end of the day, it's important to focus on the fact that both sales and marketing have a shared goal: they want the company to succeed and to grow the business. Each department has a different job to do in order to achieve the overall business results. By focusing on the commonalities vs. differences and practicing open communications will lead to better alignment and improved results.

Want more tips on sales and marketing alignment? Read Ellen’s other blog post on the topic, Get in Formation: How to Align Sales & Marketing.

Exhibit Concepts’ Six Most Popular Trade Show Tools and Tips of 2017

Exhibit Concepts December 30, 2017

It’s been a great year and as we head into 2018, we wanted to take a look back at our most popular tools and most visited blog posts in 2017. You can view all of this content on the Resources Page on our website.

Top Trade Show Tools

  1. Whitepaper: 10 Steps to Prepare for a Successful Trade Show

You’ve made the decision to attend a trade show and you’ve allocated a lot of your marketing budget to the event. So, what steps can you take to make this a successful investment? There are many variables and complexities involved in exhibiting, so preparation is a crucial component of the overall process. 

To ensure your investment is well spent and your goals are met, there are many plans and considerations to walk through. This white paper covers ten key steps you should take in order to have a well-managed, successful trade show.

  1. Template: Creative Brief

Is creativity a key component of your face-to-face marketing program? It should be. Our Creative Brief Template will get you and your team started down the path to creative thinking.

  1. Worksheet: Start, Stop Continue

This exercise is a great way to pause, evaluate, and take action while a recent event or trade show is still fresh in your mind. We use this method to discuss internal processes, values, and behaviors as part of overall best practices and in conjunction with analytics.

Top Trade Show Tips

  1. Crates Can Make or Break Your Trade Show

Crates are expensive. And for clients with large exhibits requiring many crates, it can be a large line item cost. So, why are they so costly? What makes them such an important element of a successful trade show experience? When you know what goes into making these wooden marvels, it’s easy to see why the humble crate is much more than it seems.

  1. Staying on Top of Trade Show Trends is a Key Factor of Success

If there is one constant in the trade show industry, it is this: there is always some new development or trend emerging. Earlier this year, we identified five (5) trends to watch out for in 2017. 

  1. Choosing the Right Trade Show is Possible, with a Few Steps

The decision to attend a trade show is not one your company takes lightly. It’s an investment (and a worthwhile one, at that) and therefore the pressure is on to make the most of your allotted budget. There are many considerations, from ensuring you have a timeline in place to choosing the best trade show hall location. While these and many other elements like booth design are crucial to a successful trade show program that meets each of your goals, we believe choosing the best shows for your brand is another key consideration and one that you should evaluate on a regular basis.

Here’s to a wonderful 2017 and an exciting 2018! Want to see more trends, tips, and resources? Visit the Blog page of our website or the Resources page.

Ask the Experts: Trade Show Trends & Engagements, Part 3 of 3

Exhibit Concepts December 20, 2017

There is a saying in business: innovate or die. This maxim holds true in trade shows as well, where staying up to date on the latest trends and most compelling engagements is one of the key components of success. Technology seems to evolve at the speed of light, but there are ways to stay informed and educated—and incorporate those cutting edge trends into your next trade show.

As professionals who are “in the trenches” of the exhibit industry and observing the latest and greatest in trade show trends, we asked each department to weigh in on three key questions:

  1. How can clients save money or use their budget more efficiently?
  2. What is the best way for clients to avoid surprises in the latter portion of the event planning process?
  3. Which upgrades, booth trends or emerging engagements do you see on the horizon that clients can implement to save time and money?

In this third and final part of the series, we are diving into the third question to understand the ways technology and engagement are shaping the future of the trade show industry.

You can read part one of the series and then check out part two.

From the Creatives

From a design perspective, there is definitely a trend toward open and airy booth design that isn’t just aesthetically pleasing; it serves a specific purpose. This means that the focus is placed on the client’s goals for a space, whether it is to conduct face to face meetings, raise brand awareness, or encourage engagement from visitors. It’s all about creating an environment where meaningful conversations can take place, rather than big, heavy architecture that looks impressive, but may not help the exhibitor achieve their specific goals. Keeping these guidelines in mind will result in an overall experience that is a worthwhile investment.

From the Graphics Department

On the trade show floor, every exhibitor is competing for attention. The show floor is a busy place, and graphics are a key component to help stand out from the crowd. Increasingly, exhibitors are replacing traditional signage with digital signage like video walls and OLED monitors. Technology has obviously played a huge role in the industry, and a combination of traditional graphics and digital signage can garner attention without breaking the bank. Using a combination of digital, traditional, and fabric signage can make for a big presence.  

From the Fabricators

Finding new, innovative ways to incorporate elements that can pull “double duty” is a great way to save both time and money in the build process as well and I&D (installation and dismantle). For example, in one configuration, a cabinet might serve as a reception counter and in another it could function as a base for a tower or you could use shipping containers that can be configured to function as counter space or storage closets in the booth. These interchangeable elements also mean less shipping and drayage costs, and still allow you to have a different look and feel for each show. Better yet, this will also minimize your upfront investment in property.

From our Engagement Specialists

These days, simply showing up at a trade show and setting up a booth is not enough. Trade show attendees want to be educated and entertained. They are looking for a memorable experience. Engagement is more important than ever to attract and draw the audience into the booth. And it also serves to engage the audience and communicate key message points. Whether it’s through a contest or game, or some other interactive digital format, it is all about drawing the right people into the booth. The key is to focus on buyer personas – who are you trying to reach, what is their perspective and situation and what do you want them to take away? From a time and money perspective, it is important to support the engagement in the space: make the most of the investment by storyboarding the experience, choosing the right brand ambassadors and creating a script to ensure it is a smooth, well executed engagement every time. Much like the wheels on a car, it is an investment, but arguably the most important aspect of the trade show experience.

From Show Services

Technology plays a starring role in our lives, and event/show services are no exception to that shift toward automating processes. For many years, ordering show services was done manually, which meant lots of paperwork and forms to be filled out by hand. Now, most shows or events are ordered online, which saves time and improves the consistency and accuracy of information. Likewise, technology has allowed for most vendors to have a chat feature on their website, making it ideal for multitasking and getting quick responses from vendors.

From the Shipping Department

While technology doesn’t necessarily play a direct role in shipping, there are innovations that can be utilized to reduce costs in this area. For example, using fabric and other lightweight materials in production can reduce overall transportation expenses. Likewise, multi-purpose designs can have a big impact in shipping. These elements that serve multiple purposes in different configurations mean fewer items to ship, lower weights, and ultimately, less room for storage costs.

From Leadership

Focusing on a theme for a particular marketing campaign is the key to a consistent experience that will help a brand stand out from the crowd. This means that the trade show is just one element of a larger experience, providing experience continuity for consistency and ultimately, brand recognition. Think of the trade show as an opportunity to extend your marketing efforts directly to customers and prospects. Unlike digital marketing, you can observe firsthand how customers and prospects are reacting to your messaging and programs. Embodying the brand at a trade show can easily integrate technology, through experiences and engagement that fit the theme and create a big impact on the busy trade show floor.

This is the third and final installment of our “From the Experts” trade show series. For more trade show information, visit our RESOURCES page. 

The Difference Between International & Domestic Trade Show Costs

Exhibit Concepts December 08, 2017

From Jeff Hannah, VP of International, Commercial Interiors, & Creative

We often get questions about Domestic Exhibiting Costs & International Exhibiting Costs and why they can vary so drastically. Here's the best way to understand the differences- and why U.S. exhibiting costs tend to be higher in comparison. 

We’ve recently started exhibiting internationally, and compared to crafting a similar experience in the United States, international exhibiting is downright cheap! Why are U.S. exhibiting costs so high?

Exhibit marketing is a fairly complex endeavor involving everything from transportation and drayage to design and fabrication. Multiple companies, each with their own policies, rules, and fees, provide products and services within each of the industry’s unique aspects. Therefore, explaining what may be driving up the price of exhibiting is just as complex as the industry itself. Plus, the economics of every country play a role in how much services, products, and labor cost, which in turn affect the price of exhibiting. That said there are generally three factors that elevate the price to exhibit at U.S. shows over similar events in other countries: segmentation/location, unions, and industry sophistication.

Segmentation/Location

The U.S. exhibit industry is segmented into multiple areas of specialization, more so than in many other countries. Plus, the distance booths travel to and from shows is typically far less in other parts of the world. Thus, factors related to transportation and segmentation often result in higher fees.

Most international exhibit builders craft exhibits in their own shops, sometimes only partially constructing a one-time use structure that is later fully completed on the trade show floor. These same firms often transport the exhibits from their shops directly to the venues, rather than hiring outside trucking companies. And since these are typically temporary builds that will only be used once or twice, as opposed to over the course of several years, the exhibit components are minimally secured for transport and not housed in heavy crates or customized shipping containers.

What’s more, many international exhibit builders produce stands that will be used at nearby venues, which means they’re often transporting booths across a city or regional area as opposed to across a country the size of the United States. Finally, once on site, the same exhibit-building firms frequently install their own exhibits, as opposed to hiring separate installation-and-dismantle (I&D) companies — a factor that not only saves money but often saves time, as exhibit houses can usually install their own exhibitry far faster than labor crews that are viewing the setup plans for the first time.

In the United States, however, an exhibit house typically constructs a sturdy and often heavy exhibit that will be used multiple times over the course of several years. It’s then securely crated for long-distance transport. Then, the exhibit house hires a freight carrier to transport the booth to the show, which could be literally thousands of miles away. When it arrives at the event, it is assembled by a labor crew (either an exhibitor-appointed installation firm or general contractor labor) that many times isn’t employed by the original exhibit house.

Thus, in the United States, there are multiple players involved, each of which comes with a fee aside from the design and construction of the booth. And often, if the exhibit house hires such a firm on your behalf, you’re also paying a markup on the original cost of the service.  In addition, exhibits usually travel greater distances from the exhibit house to a show in the United States than they do in many international locales. Bottom line: international exhibitors typically pay a turnkey fee to an exhibit house for a booth at a specific show; whereas, U.S. exhibitors pay an exhibit house, transportation firm, drayage provider (more on that later), and an I&D company. The sum of all companies’ fees is typically greater than the total amount for a single international exhibit house to perform the same functions. Add in the transportation fees — as well as the following factors — and you’ve racked up a hefty bill.

Unions   

Unlike most other countries, I&D labor in the United States often falls under union jurisdiction. So not only are you paying for an independent or general contractor to install your booth (using exhibit components that laborers are usually seeing for the first time when they step on the show floor), but also their rates are generally higher due to union mandates. Additionally, tight regulations govern union workers’ actions. For example, union rules stipulate how many hours laborers can work per day, the standard rates being charged, when overtime rates apply, and when there are four-hour minimums that you must pay (even if workers only spent an hour in your booth). Furthermore, labor unions often maintain exclusive control over certain types of work activities in various venues, such as drayage, cleaning, rigging, decorating, cleaning, running electrical wiring, etc. As such, this exclusive control drives costs higher due to a lack of competition and alternative choices.

In comparison, most overseas contractors aren’t under union jurisdiction and as such pay rates and hours worked are far more flexible — a factor that results in decreased costs for exhibitors. Plus, the majority of international exhibit houses offer a fixed fee to produce a turnkey exhibit, including labor, transportation, material handling, etc. Unless clients make major changes along the way, they pay the exact cost that was stipulated prior to the beginning of the exhibit build. Regardless of how long it takes laborers to install your stand, you will be paying the same amount you originally agreed upon. This practice eliminates extra fees for overtime charges, unexpected snafus, and ineffective or inefficient laborers.

Industry Sophistication

Simply put, countries where the exhibit industry is mature and more sophisticated tend to have higher costs than those where the industry is less developed. That’s because greater sophistication often results in higher-quality exhibits, and the designs, materials, crates, etc. associated with these stands cost more than lesser-quality booths. 

In addition, custom U.S. exhibits are usually built as multiuse properties that are used for three or more years. Many of them are at least partially modular, allowing for easier transportation and I&D than fully custom builds. However, almost any degree of modularity requires specialized connectors, panels, flooring pieces, etc. In contrast, exhibits built overseas are more frequently single-use “build and burn” stands that are used for only one show. They are constructed to withstand a single, often one-way transport to the event and three or four days (not three or four years) of wear and tear. As such, their structural quality can be much lower, and thus, their costs are similarly decreased.

So in the United States, everything from materials and levels of industry sophistication to the presence of unions and multiple supplier fees drive up the price of executing a face-to-face marketing program.  But it’s kind of an, “It is what it is” situation. While international exhibitors building booths in the United States experience pretty severe sticker shock, U.S. exhibit professionals are fairly used to their unfortunate hurdles — and they typically exhale a big sigh of relief when they get their international-exhibiting invoices.

This article originally appeared in the November, 2017 issue of EXHIBITOR magazine.

Creating a Welcoming Environment in Montgomery County, Ohio

Exhibit Concepts November 22, 2017

When it comes to the spaces where we live, work, and play, first impressions matter. A building is a canvas where every element should convey a brand’s character and culture. Whether it’s a corporate lobby that introduces guests to your company or a showroom that puts your company’s products on display, the look and feel of a branded environment is an incredibly important communication tool about your organization, what you stand for and what your client’s can expect when working with you.

In Montgomery County, Ohio, the Montgomery County Job & Family Services facility is no exception to the importance of a space. This county office provides coordinated government services for county residents, including Federal and State Public Assistance programs; Federal, State, and County Medical Assistance; Federal, State, and local service and day care programs and Federal and State Support Enforcement programs. Needless to say, it’s a busy place.

The large facility, which was recently renovated, houses many departments and providers in one sprawling building. Officials at Montgomery County were pleased with the updated interior, but felt it need a little something: to make people feel welcome. Enter our Corporate Interiors group. Our team worked alongside Montgomery County Job & Family Services to put together a plan that would create a consistent, colorful and inspirational environment.

There were a few goals for this project. The first was to reinforce the color coding for each department, but improve upon it with wayfinding signage that made it easy for visitors to find the proper department for their needs. The second was to incorporate graphics throughout in order to make the building feel welcoming. Our graphics team used images of families along with color treatments to add the human element. This was complimented by quotes from Dayton locals that can be found throughout the building as well.

The result? A colorful, easy to navigate, welcoming environment for all who step foot inside. Want to learn more about the Montgomery County Job & Family Services facility and our team’s work? Watch the video below or learn more about our Corporate Interiors work, HERE.

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