Don’t Take Portability for Granted

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portabilityMy wife and I spent last weekend moving into a new home. We are thrilled for sure that now we have a place to call our own and settle down in, but moving is absolutely a forgettable experience! In the trade show industry, unlike moving into a new house, portability is the name of the game.

One common complaint in our industry in response to quotes for new booths is, “I could buy a house for that amount of money!” and the standard rebuttal is an explanation of portability. Now (usually) the complaint is an embellishment, though there is no denying the occasional shock in the cost of trade show booths, but the rebuttal has validity.

There was a time when the construction of trade show booths was not too far off from that of a house. They used wood, screws and a lot of manpower to build. Hauled in using fully loaded 18-wheelers. But innovation, along with a down economy brought change to exhibit construction. Heavy wood and steel truss was replaced with lighter weight aluminum extrusion. Bulky rigged graphics have been replaced with dye-sublimated fabric. Now a 20×20 exhibit that used to take a full truck is packed into a crate or two.

The impact of the new design style is drastic. Money spent on storage, freight, drayage/material handling and labor has decreased exponentially from it’s older equivalent. This has allowed precious dollars to go towards making the show a success instead of just flushing them into logistics.

Being able to re-utilize hardware components and easily replace graphics has also led to rentals flourishing within the industry. This has put companies that even just ten years ago couldn’t fathom exhibiting in island spaces in a position to seize the opportunity at their larger shows.

The second phase of portability has been hiding the cases and crates. Products like case-to-podiums, or the MyPal make a shipping case into a needed booth add-on. So now the on-site costs and wait times are being reduced since exhibitors don’t have to have their shipping containers carted away and brought back after the show (on seemingly no schedule whatsoever).

As I packed box after box after box of household items, and along with the help of a bunch of my friends loaded up and unloaded a couple truckloads, it set in how painfully UNportable our homes and their contents are. I thought that there had to be a better way, and I remembered the creativity and innovation that has gone into making massive trade show exhibits able to be packed and shipped quickly and repeatedly. The portability I know so well at work I had taken for granted.