This is a web site about exhibiting at a trade show or convention without the headaches. Sponsored by Ocean Color Group, a seasoned display studio in Rhode Island. You can reach us by calling (800) 219-8700.
The traditional way … to exhibit at a trade show is to plan months in advance to make sure you have your display materials ready. There are so many things to do. Graphics have to be conceived, designed or updated. The display hardware, if new must be selected, or if already used in previous years, has to be set up and checked out.
Then you have to arrange shipping to make sure it gets there in time. The case or cases could weigh 80 lbs or much, much more for larger booth spaces. You have to choose between shipping to the advance warehouse address, which means it incurs extra drayage fees and has to be there about three weeks before show opens. Alternatively, you can ship directly to the show, but you have to count on UPS to get it there on exactly the right day with no delays and hope it gets delivered to the right booth address in the right aisle. After you've been through this ordeal for 10 or 15 years, perhaps several times each year, you get very tired of the aggravation.
Most seasoned exhibitors have had at least one experience in which they arrived at the show and discovered that the display didn't make it. Then you are faced with the prospect of standing in front of purple and white drapes for three days passing out business cards to passersby because you have no display materials.
A growing number of exhibitors are thinking, wouldn't it be nice if I could just take the display on the plane with me when I fly to the show.
Big Graphics and the Structures to Support Them Unless you are exhibiting your actual product, such as a 6 ft. tall robotic arm, you most likely will want to represent your company and products with large, eye-catching graphics. The back of a 10ft. booth can be covered with a photo mural 10 ft. wide.
A Different Way to Think About Exhibiting After the great recession of 2008, a number of my customers confided in me that they had a hard time justifying the expense of exhibiting considering how much of hit their business had taken in a market and industry that was way down. But here is the rub, when you have been in business for a long time, or even just a few years, if you don't exhibit at an annual show where many of your customers expect to see you, it is somewhat akin to closing your shop or having your phone disconnected. Not exhibiting at a show would be like announcing you were going out of business. It could be a kiss of death to your marketing. No matter how much your sales are down, you are still in business; your customers are still there; and many of them will still attend the trade shows. You simply have to be there.
Then the more you think about that, the more you begin to realize that all those years that you worked so hard and spent so much money to make an impressive appearance with your exhibit, you may have have been overestimating the importance of impressing your customers. When it comes down to the bare reality the only really important thing is to BE THERE.
Be there to show your customers that you care about them; you are working every day to improve your product and your customer service, to listen to what their needs… and their woes … are; to talk about trends in the industry; to discuss new product ideas. It turns out your customers don't care that much whether you impress them; they need to know you are interested in their business. Trade shows and conventions are really about building relationships and sharing ideas. The size and weight of your exhibit is much less important when you look at it this way.
This is not to say you want to be at the show with nothing… no display. You do need basically a sign that in one way or another says, "This is who we are; this is what we do, and We Are Here to Listen to you." It should look professional and get the message across in a passing second, but it doesn't have to be big, and it doesn't have to be heavy,
There are a variety of ways to do this, using a variety of different kinds of structure to hold them up. But what if you could take the mural and leave the structure at home? If your booth space is defined by the typical "Pipe and Drape," you can. Take advantage of the structure that is already there, and hang your photo mural over the pipe and drape. That is on idea we propose. See our sections on Dye Sub Graphics and on Fabric Panels.
There is an easier way. It is more than a passing dream. It is actually completely possible to take your 10-ft display with you as carry-on baggage, or at least check it at the counter so it can travel on the same plane, arriving when you do.
In this web site I will discuss and illustrate a variety of ways in which you actually can travel light to a trade show. Some of the ideas are fairly common. Others may be somewhat unconventional and not likely to be recommended by a professional display company.
Over the years, I have personally helped hundreds and hundreds of small companies think through and prepare displays for trade shows and conventions, coming from more industries and segments of the economy than I could count. So I like to think I understand what a traditional approach is and how to build a professional display. It always takes more time (even for the customer) and costs more than business owners and marketing departments really want to spend.
I did not dream up the idea of carry-on displays. My customers did. Over the past few years a growing number of my customers came to me with a request for display ideas that would be lighter, less expensive, easier to set up … and easier to transport. "I just wish I could take it on the plane." they told me.