Trade Show Booths Tune Up Procedures

The fall trade show season is upon us, and it’s time to tune up your trade show displays.

What, you say? Well, you wouldn’t think of traveling thousands of miles in your car without doing a little preventative maintenance, would you? An oil change, tire rotation, proper inflation and a full tank of gas—all these things are critical to the efficient operation of your vehicle.

LED Backlit Trade Show Tower

LED Backlit Trade Show Tower

So before your trade show exhibits hit the road for another year of shows, consider giving your booth, and all the things that travel with it, a little routine care. And think about making this a regular part of your exhibit marketing program—not something you rush to do at the last minute, just before your trade show display goes out the door.

Let’s break down what needs to be done, so your trade show displays don’t break down during travel.

1) Walk around your exhibit marketing vehicle

You do this every time you rent a car when you’re traveling. You walk around the vehicle with the rental car representative, checking for existing damage. After all, when you’re taking an executive out for dinner, you don’t want the car you’re into to look like it’s been through a demolition derby. It just doesn’t reflect well on you.

The same is true about your rental exhibit. You want to give it a critical look-over to check for damage, scratched or damaged graphics, missing parts, loose fasteners, burnt-out light bulbs, worn-out Velcro—everything that could impair your booth’s performance at future shows. They may be small things now, but small things are annoying in themselves, and they usually turn into larger problems. And just like a car, those kinds of problems are generally harder to solve when your trade show booth is on the road.

Make a list of things that need attention or repair, and schedule time to work on this yourself, or turn it over to your exhibit company for more extensive fixes. While you’re at this, you may want to put together an inventory or go through the checklist you already have to make sure nothing is missing.

2) Check your luggage

The luggage that transports your booth is obviously its cases or crates. You want them to be in top shape in order to keep your exhibit safe and protected. These crates tally up significant mileage in transit for every show, and they can show signs of damage or wear and tear pretty quickly.

Carefully look over the display surfaces for signs of damage, and check hinges and latches to be sure everything works the way it’s supposed to. Don’t forget to remove any previous shipping labels (Goof Off works great for this), so your next shipper doesn’t get confused and send your booth somewhere it’s not supposed to be again. To clean fiberglass or hard plastic show cases, rub them down with a rag soaked in acetone (the same chemical that’s in nail polish remover).

Just like the tires that keep your car running safely on the highway, the normal road wear that goes hand in hand with the shipping process will take a toll on your cases. If they don’t need it yet, plan your budget so you’ll be able to order replacements when they will, inevitably, wear out. And remember – if the shipper drops your case and it breaks, but protects the trade show display nestled inside, well then, don’t be disappointed with the shipping case, it did it’s job!

3) Take a good look at your optional equipment

Your car has power seats, electric windows and side view mirrors that add to your vehicle’s safety and comfort. Your exhibit has lots of the same kinds of add-ons that make it look snazzier and help it attract attention on the show floor.

Graphics are a big part of a successful exhibit, and they can develop problems over time. They can simply become obsolete (after that new product introduction last year, for example), or they can get beat up by road hazards. Nothing looks as unattractive as booth signage that’s been bent and taped back together with a corner missing. We’ve all seen those kinds of banners and displays, and you don’t want to let your trade show booth become one of them. Invest in upgraded graphics and your booth will go the extra mile in helping you communicate your marketing message.

custom backlit trade show display cases and shelves

Custom backlit trade show display cases and shelves with display lighting.

There are other booth options you could consider, as well. Banner stands, table covers, literature racks, lighting kits, flooring—all these can make an older model trade show exhibit look showroom new again. A few simple changes can boost the performance of your booth significantly.

4) Time for a newer model

Exhibits, just like automobiles, don’t last forever. Their longevity is affected by how often they’re on the road and how well they’ve been cared for. But there will come a time when you need to replace what you’ve been traveling with. As with automobiles, newer exhibits include added features that weren’t available on older models. Changes in technology have made exhibits lighter, more durable and compact, and easier to set up.

So if you’ve been traveling with the same trade show booth for several years, consider how well what you have is communicating your marketing message. Also factor in what you’re spending on repairs and maintenance. Often, purchasing a new trade show display pencils out to be a cost-effective choice.

Again, just like a car, your exhibit is a major investment that you hope to keep running smoothly for a number of years. An annual tune-up is a smart investment in making your booth road-ready and easier for you or the people at the show to set up, use, tear down and get back on the road again.

If your exhibit tune-up turns up any problems that need professional service, just give us a call. We can help you refurbish your current trade show booths, add optional equipment, replace your cases and even design a new model for you. Ask what the American Image Displays booth design team can do to help keep your exhibit marketing program moving on down the road. Call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected].