Topic: Other

Trade Show Support

Posted by mike.sidders on 250 Points
We're a $200MM B2B manufacturer of decorated apparel for the Resort and Collegiate markets. To this point, we've handled our trade show booth displays completely in-house. It worked well from a branding standpoint, however, time has not been good to our displays and the set-up and tear-down process is totally onerous relative to the new booth displays that are around us.

We have distinct five brands that all do tradeshows; sometimes at the same time, so we need multiple displays. Likewise, we do many different shows, so we need displays that flex into different square footage configurations. Finally, we need to hang and display garments - that's what we sell - and the display needs to take into account dozens of product samples. Hence, we need something a lot more than just a fancy backdrop, something that will effectively showcase apparel.

I'm looking for a recommendation for a provider that could be helpful given our needs and goals. Any ideas along these lines would be appreciated - especially those with client-based experience with the provider.

Thanks much!

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  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    Let me suggest you contact Ruth Stevens, our resident trade show expert.

    If anyone knows this subject it's Ruth.
  • Posted by Peter (henna gaijin) on Member
    Trade show management has been a fair amount of my work over the past few years. I have worked with clients who do it all in house, clients who keep their booths at a central warehouse run by a trade show management company, and clients who use turnkey booths provided by the shows. All have their pros and cons. I have not worked with any where the trade show management company sent staff to manage the set up/tear down of the booth.

    I would start the process by sitting down with your team and strategically look at what shows you plan to go to and what you needed in past years to figure out booth sizes needed, how many of each due to overlapping shows, etc. Get yourself to the point where you say you need X sets of X size booths with X art (presumably at least 1 set of art for each of the 5 brands). No matter what route you go, knowing this is important.

    Given you say time has not being good for the displays and the handling the displays being onerous, getting new, easier to use popup displays sounds appropriate. With the info you figured before on how many of each booth size and art you need, you'll then work with a trade show supply company to determine what specific booths would work for you and get them art and have new displays made.

    Once this is done, you can then determine whether you want to hire a company to handle shipping and storage of the displays.

    The clothing display aspect (clothing racks) is an area I am not familiar with. You'll have to talk to trade show display folks about what they have that would work.

    The alternate route is to skip buying popup booths and go with turn key booths at each show. For each show, the show management sends art specs, your design team makes art to match specs, and the show management prints and set up booth with this art on it. Your staff just shows up at the show and all should be ready for them. No shipping of booth (but still need to ship product to display), no set up, no take down, etc. But a much higher involvement from your designers/art department, as they have to make art for each show, and the booth specs usually are different enough that art from one show can't be used as is for another. And you'd have to see if the turnkey booths can provide clothing racks that would work for your product display.

    Keep in mind, you could possibly do a hybrid model. If you have few times in a year where shows overlap, rather than making enough booths to handle the max number of shows, make enough to handle your usual need and then use turnkey for when you have the high need.

    Much of this will be impacted by what geographies you work with. My answer was mostly for North America. If you work in other regions, might not be as relevant. And if you work across multiple continents, you might need to set up each continent separately as crossing lots of borders adds lots of hassles.

    Good luck.

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