In my role as an account manager I deal with a wide variety of clients. Some of whom we have worked with for years on a number of shows and displays, and some that are diving into trade shows/events for the first time. Either way, it is important for me to know some key factors when helping them discern which display is best for them. The three most obvious are budget, due date and space size. Beyond those though, here are five overlooked questions to answer in the selection process:
How Often Will it Be Used?
This question will help in two ways. First, helping me determine if you’re better off renting. If you’re doing less than 3 shows a year, renting may offer the most value for your dollars. Secondly, I know how important durability is. Though we try to stray from selling anything without a lifetime hardware warranty, some organizations can’t even afford the downtime to repair a display and some hardware will never live up to their usage. If it is being used only a handful of times a year most hardware will suffice, but up from there it may be best to invest in a premium hardware option. This also applies when someone plans to maintain this display longer than the 3-5 year expected life.
How Many People Will Be Able to Set it Up?
Even a 10×10 display can range from being up in seconds by one person, to requiring multiple hired laborers with tools and ladders. If we know it is only ever going to be setup by one person or different new people every show that narrows the selection. If we know it will require hired labor, it needs to be factored into the budget. Depending on where the shows are, that can become a major budget item.
Which Types of Locations Will it Be Used In?
Conferences in hotels are very popular because they are generally frequent, targeted and quick. Hotels though are not equipped the same as convention halls logistically. For larger trade shows, a warehouse can receive items over a specified period of time. They can easily transport crates to spaces. Hotels are harder to ship into with tight windows and staff that may not be familiar with handling event related shipments. They’re also limited in what types of displays they can receive, move around and setup. Shipping docks and freight elevators are not givens. We’ve had to unload from trucks and take displays in piece by piece before.
Do I Want the Ability to Scale Up and Down Easily?
If a client splits their time between 10×10 and 10×20 spaces during a show season then a display that is modular, has the ability to fill either size, is important. If it is majority 10×10 spaces on the schedule with one 10×20 or 20×20 (as is fairly common), the client can opt to rent to fill the larger space while purchasing the 10×10.
Does the Schedule Overlap?
As the veteran exhibitors know, a logistics nightmare can easily happen when timelines aren’t properly factored. Just because show days don’t overlap, doesn’t mean that there won’t be issues. With advanced warehouses, specified setup and takedown days, and transit time extra days you think you have can quickly be taken up. If it is known in advance, plans can be made to ship an additional display, rent a display, or change the show calendar.
A trade show display is an investment of time and resources so thinking through the details is prudent. The only reason I was able to put together this list is because I’ve seen each of these impact at least one client over the years. One of the biggest hindrances to proper evaluation is time, so start the process at least one or two months out. Doing that along with working with a vendor who understands which displays will perform best based on the responses will hopefully lead to a client who is happy with their display!