How To Extend The Life Of Your Exhibit
Your trade show exhibit is a major expense item in your marketing budget, and that booth will probably need to be used over a fair period of time in order to be cost-effective. How can you extend the life of your exhibit, minimizing added costs for major repairs, refurbishments or replacement? These six tips will steer you in the right direction.
1) Think long term
Begin planning in the design process to extend the life of your exhibit. This may mean making different choices so you can maximize the usable lifespan of your booth.
For example, finishing your exhibit with laminates can make it look fantastic, so this is a great option for those that can afford it. Keep in mind that the wear and tear those laminates receive in the I&D process can quickly take a toll. Even the small chips and scrapes add up quickly, so if you will be using subcontractors to do the setup and dismantle, perhaps an extrusion frame wrapped with printed fabric would be a better choice.
Will you be changing graphic panels frequently? Make sure that is easy to do, and that you have a place to store the extra graphics. Do you need shelves for displaying products? Locking storage for coats and purses? Will you be attending shows in cities that require LED lights and forbid the use of halogens?
Do you have big shows and smaller events? Consider a booth design that is modular and easy to reconfigure.
Will your sales team be doing the setup and dismantle? Factor that into your choice of booth structure; some displays look similar, but can be very different in terms of difficulty, strength, and time required for setup and dismantle.
Many of your choices will also impact recurring costs like shipping and drayage, and install/dismantle costs. Be sure to evaluate cost trade-offs that include a potential savings in recurring costs.
Consider how the booth will be put together every time it’s set up. Identify the moving parts, cam locks, spring loaded buttons, etc, and make sure to get a few extra parts. If there are replaceable plastic caps and buttons, get some of those now too. These small additions during the build cycle will pay dividends over the lifetime of your exhibit.
Is there some element of your previous exhibit that could be incorporated into your next one? Graphics panels, lighting, electronic devices, furniture, carpeting and even display components can often be reconfigured or reused in creative ways to cut down on the cost of your new booth. Not only that, but you’ll also be cutting down the amount of debris that enters the waste stream.
There may be several elements of your present display that, with some refurbishing, could be made to look new and fresh. This can modernize an older display and save money in the process, to help extend the life of your exhibit.
Also, reuse packing and shipping materials like bubble wrap, foam padding and cardboard. This isn’t just a “save the environment” move (although it does help). It will save your company money over time. And consider using biodegradable or recyclable materials for packing your display.
3) Spend it where it counts
This simply means that you invest in the finest quality materials at the outset. The result is that your booth will be able to take the abuse that’s consistently dished out in so many packing’s, un-packing’s, set-ups and take-downs.
By using durable, high-quality materials, you may spend a little more in the beginning. But you’ll have a durable exhibit that can stand up to multiple uses. A booth like this won’t have to be replaced as often, so you save money in the long run. And again, you extend the life of your exhibit.
(Note – if all the booths look to be the same quality, compare warranties. Some manufacturers offer carefully worded manufacturing warranties, others offer life time, no questions asked hardware warranties.)
4) Treat it like it’s yours
It’s easy to treat your company’s exhibit like a rental car: it’s not yours, so you don’t handle it as gently as you would if you owned it. That can be a mistake.
All exhibits experience certain forms of wear and tear over time. That’s to be expected. But most of the dings, scrapes and scratches take place during packing, unpacking, setting up and dismantling.
Why? Because everyone’s in a hurry. And let’s face it, it isn’t yours. If it were, you’d slow down a bit and handle it with a little more care. Simply cleaning your exhibit properties regularly can extend their useful lifespan.
Taking care of maintenance issues (like graphics repair and touch-ups) before they become critical can save you time, money and hassle down the road. And you won’t have to feel like MacGyver, using duct tape, chewing gum and bailing wire to hold your exhibit together.
If you want your booth to impress, treat it like it’s yours.
5) Enter the Electronic Age
It’s about time. We’re exhibiting at trade shows in the 21st century, but we’re approaching them as if nothing has changed in the last fifty years.
Instead of printed literature, consider displaying the same information on monitors in your booth. This can save you on the cost of printing new brochures every time prices or specs change. And it also brings your exhibit’s design into the Modern Age! This gives your aging display a boost and helps you extend the life of your exhibit.
As an alternative to monitors, consider incorporating tablets and tablet kiosks into your booth’s design. These can make literature requests, contest sign-ups and lead gathering all work much more efficiently.
These days, almost all of your visitors will be using these same electronic devices; especially cell phones and tablets, so consider adding a charging station kiosk to your setup. This will give your visitors a chance to recharge while they’re chatting with you, helping them out and giving you a chance to build that relationship.
6) If you can’t use it, give it away
Many exhibitors have found they can extend the life of their exhibits by re purposing the booth itself, or some of its components. For example, signage or a booth back wall may be suitable for use in your company’s office or showroom. In this way, someone else within your organization benefits from the display you don’t need any longer.
If you can’t find an internal client for your older exhibit, consider donating its components to a local charity. In addition to the tax benefits, you’ve helped to extend the life of your exhibit by giving it a new purpose. (We’ve found that schools and churches can re-use old style pop up panels with Velcro-receptive fabric; they are great for all sorts of school and church activities.)
Many trade shows are getting involved in this type of activity. For example, in 2016, CES’s sustainability program enabled participating exhibitors to donate more than 12,000 pounds of “leftovers” to community partners. See if your next show has a similar program.
Here at American Image Displays, we love to help our clients get the most out of their exhibits. We represent top-quality manufacturers whose product lines stand the test of time. And because we specialize in modular displays, we can help you extend the life of your exhibit by adding or changing only necessary components. Whatever your needs, we can help. To learn more, call (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected]