August 17, 2012

Your Image, Your Budget and How to Deal with Your Exhibit House

Category: Articles — admin @ 6:46 pm

 There are three major types of exhibits:

  1. Portables, which includes Table Tops and Pop-Ups and Folding Panel
  2. Modular, not as portable but sets up fairly easily
  3. Custom, the sky’s the limited on appearance and cost


Low cost and easy to transport, depending on the size, you can carry it yourself or ship it UPS or FedEx to a show.

Pop-ups are lightweight and easy to assemble. They consist of an expanding frame that “pops up” and has a skin on it, consisting of fabric or photomural panels. They are available in curved or flat wall configurations (or a combination of the two) and come in a wide variety of sizes, either tabletop or full height.

Flat folding portables just unfold and you are all set to go. They also come in table top and full height.

Pop-ups are advantageous to those who need to assemble their own exhibit, and they offer the ability to display large-scale, high-impact graphics.

On the other hand, they do not offer lockable storage, and have only minimal load-bearing capabilities.

Depending on the type of show your company is planning to attend, a good looking portable is all you might need. Some companies, if the budget allows have different exhibits for different trade shows.  But if your budget is tight, it is better to get the best portable you can afford. And remember the price of the exhibit might include printing the graphics, but it will not include production and art time. That is charged by the hour. So it would be to your advantage to know what you want the graphics and copy to look like. Or have it done in house or by your advertising/marketing agency.


More versatile than a portable, the configuration can be changed to suit your needs.

Modular’s, are building block systems that consist of a variety of parts and pieces. While each of the modular exhibit suppliers has developed its own system, it all comes down to “Insert Tab A into Slot A!”
Modular systems have become more popular because of their tremendous flexibility in design. These re-configurable structures can be moved around or added to for endless variation. They are strong, take less assembly time, and are typically less expensive than custom designs. With countless display options for product and/or graphics and numerous available finishes, they can save money in many ways.
Modular systems can accommodate heavy display product, can offer lockable storage, and are less expensive to repair or change because individual panels or units can be changed out when necessary.
They are less expensive than custom exhibits. They cost less to ship and usually result in lower labor costs, due to ease of assembly, yet they can give the “look” of a custom exhibit.
Still, modular systems are more expensive than pop-up or folding panel systems. Show labor is usually required for I&D, and they usually must be shipped via common carrier or van lines since cases may exceed UPS and FedEx size requirements.


Custom exhibits are unique, high-end displays that are designed with a specific exhibitor’s needs in mind. Custom exhibits are usually purchased for the larger shows and are designed to promote a corporate image. They can be built from almost any material – fabric, laminate, metals, etc., and offer unique solutions for product display, demonstrations, conference areas and storage.
The greatest advantage of a custom exhibit is its impact. Nothing can convey a corporate image or promote products like a custom exhibit. On the other hand, custom exhibits are more expensive to ship, assemble, store and repair. Costs can be extreme for I&D (installation and dismantling) labor at shows.

You can have the exhibit house that built your display handle the shipping, the labor and storage as well.
So, what’s the perfect display for you? As you see, there’s no easy answer. You and your company have research to do, objectives to determine, budgets to set, and many decisions to make.
Only then will you be able to interview and work with a reputable display house that should address the following questions.

For Portables and Modular Displays:

  • Which manufacturers do they represent? Are they well-known, solid suppliers?
  • What types of product warranties are provided?
  • Is there after-the-sale support?
  • How many other dealer locations are there, both nationwide and worldwide?
  • Is there an emergency hotline available 24/7?

For Custom Exhibits:

If your company needs a custom exhibit, find at least three display houses and tell them what you need to accomplish. Be up front about your budget. You do not want them to design a beautiful display and then find out it is over budget.

Have each of them produce and present a design. Most exhibit and display house do not charge for this service. It is included in the price of the exhibit.

Important questions to ask:

  • Are they familiar with the trade show that you are attending?
  • Do they have other clients at the show?
  • Can they combine the shipping to save money?
  • Do they know all the rules and regulations on the restrictions of the exhibits?
  • Who are their clients?
  • Do the designers listen to you or do they inject only their ideas?
  • If needed, can they design and build an exhibit that can be re-configured for different shows?
  • Are the graphics produced in house or out sourced?
  • Do they have a relationship with the convention center and the various unions?
  • How skilled are the carpenters that will build your exhibit?
  • Does the shop look safe and clean?
  • Who will they send to supervise and install the exhibit?
  • What trucking companies do they use?
  • Who is responsible for insurance?
  • How many storage facilities do they have and where?
  • If you are going to several shows, can they provide the logistics?
  • Will they fill out and file all the show forms for you?
  • Will they handle all the show services?
  • And what is the mark up on the show services?
  • What should you budget for show services?
  • What are the estimated shipping costs?
  • What are the annual storage fees?

Any reputable exhibit company will answer all these questions honestly and will help you have a better trade show experience. The more you know, the more control you will have and the less problems you will incur.

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