Alexis Exhibits

Trade Show Exhibit Design: Tension Fabric Displays

Tension fabric displays have many advantages; they are portable, easy to set up, affordable and inexpensive to update. Many exhibitors have switched to fabric graphics because they eliminate the possibility of glare or scratched, marred finishes. Other exhibitors appreciated the contemporary look that can be achieved with fabric graphics. With all the advantages of using tension fabric, it is no wonder that it has rapidly become commonplace. Unfortunately, commonplace can also become boring on a trade show floor.

Designers get creative with Tension Fabric

The typical tension fabric display is constructed of anodized aluminum tubing covered with a stretch fabric that has been printed with graphics. Most often, the exhibits using tension fabric basically replicate traditional trade show display forms. But now, a few exhibit designers are starting to explore the real potential of lightweight framing, tension fabric, programmed lighting and new printing technology to create some innovative new trade show exhibits that were not possible with traditional materials.

Lightweight framing offers new design freedom

The advent of lightweight aluminum framing means that designers can more freely incorporate tall structures and ceiling-hung elements in booths to increase visibility. It also has enabled designers to cost-efficiently create new freeform shapes and elegant, curved structures. These materials offer almost endless shape and size possibilities. Some designers have even created soaring three-dimensional structures that attendees can enter and be immersed in the brand experience.

Fabric graphics offer versatility

fabricFabric graphics offer more versatility than laminated panels, and can be produced in varying textures and opacities. Fabrics can be used to add movement and elegance to banners, and hanging elements. And translucent fabrics printed with opaque ink and illuminated with backlighting can be used to add more dimension to the design.

Graphics can be printed on fabric with either a dye sublimation process or a direct ink jet printing process to achieve different effects. Dye sublimation is a continuous-tone printing technology that very closely replicates a chemical photograph and is the best way to reproduce photographs.

Direct ink jet printing produces sharper, brilliant images and is the best choice for highly graphic images. And, with recent advances in high-resolution ink jet technology, high-quality photographic images can be produced with inkjet printing. This printing method can be used on both synthetic and natural fabrics, and allows designers to create fabric graphics on silk, cotton and fabric blends.

Limitless design possibilities

Fabric is a durable, lightweight, versatile, and affordable medium for trade show exhibit design. It provides designers with countless ways to create fresh and up-to-date displays that can make a trade show exhibit stand out at even the most competitive show.

The Perfect Trade Show Booth Requires a Great Team

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teamHave you ever been to a trade show and see a great exhibit, but no one is there to greet you? Or you start to approach a booth and see a couple disengaged people slumped in chairs, hiding? Or the booth staff is occupied talking on their cell phones and texting? My bet is that you just passed this exhibit by.

The team who staffs your booth is a critical part of a successful event. Make sure they are properly trained, motivated and equipped to succeed.

  • Select people to staff the booth who have the right attitude. You need people who are open and approachable, who can smile when their feet hurt, and who really enjoy meeting new people.
  • Train your team so that they know the main messages you want to communicate at the show, and can answer most customer questions. Knowledgeable people in your booth will generate higher quality leads and more sales.
  • If product demonstrations or structured sales presentations are part of the exhibit, make sure that every member of your team is at least loosely scripted and has rehearsed.
  • If you have any special promotions, make sure the booth staff understands all the details and deal terms.
  • Have a formal staff schedule and base the staff rotation on the expected trade show volume at given time. Develop a contingency plan to adjust staffing if needed.
  • Establish a dress code which is consistent with your company’s or organization’s brand and the booth theme.
  • Formalize the lead qualification process and make sure everyone uses the same criteria to qualify prospects and record contact information.

What do you think is the most important factor when selecting someone to staff your trade show booth: product knowledge or positive attitude?

The Tradeshow Survival Kit

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When planning to exhibit at tradeshows, it’s impossible to forget the big items, such as your display, accessories, banner stands, banners, signs, and your booth staff. Unfortunately there are many other small items that need to be brought along with you that often fall between the proverbial cracks when packing for a tradeshow. Often, these small items can cost a ridiculous amount of money when you have to resort to buying them on-site or extremely inconvenient when you have to go off-site in search of them.

So to make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of items that you shouldn’t leave the office without when en route to a tradeshow. Most are small enough to either be brought in luggage by a staff member or shipped in one box to the event or to your hotel.

Tradeshow survival kit items include:

An extension cord. Will come in handy when you realize how far equipment or lighting is from the nearest outlet.

Scotch, Gaffers and masking tape. Can be used from everything from holding down a tablecloth to sealing boxes for shipment.

Stapler. What good is a stapler without staples? Pack extra!

Paper clips. What can a paperclip not do?

Velcro dots or strips. Use to adhere signage to you’re the walls of your display, hold up banners or keep tablecloths in place.

Sewing kit. Prevent wardrobe disasters with this handy kit.

Safety pins. MacGyver once saved the world with a safety pin and a rubber band. Enough said.

Push pins. Use to hold signage in place, posts messages or notes, or awaken sleepy staff.

Black permanent markers. Use for labeling boxes or marking items that you don’t want walking away.

Blue, red, and black pens. Yes, attendees steal pens so pack plenty.

rubberbandNotebooks or pads of paper. Keep notes, reminders for staff, etc.

Rubber bands. See safety pins.

Small hammer and screwdriver. You don’t want to have to rely on on-site employees to loan you these handy essentials.

Spare pair of eyeglasses. Would be a really inconvenient time to not be able to see.

Wrist watch. Very important to keep scheduled meetings with the press or customers running on time.

Aspirin, Ibuprofen or other medications. Headaches are common at tradeshows due to late nights, over-imbibing, and lack of sleep.

Tissues. You never know when you’ll need these.

Paper towels. Prevent food or drink spills from ruining equipment.

Garbage bags. Especially handy when cleaning up after show is over.

Hand sanitizer or wipes. Shaking hands is a great way to make a good first impression, but it can also be a great way to catch a cold or other illness.

Alka-Seltzer. Plop, plop, fizz fizz…relief.

Throat lozenges. Everyone’s voices will be tired and sore from all the talking and dry air at tradeshows.

Lip balm. Indoor dry air and lots of talking equals chapped lips.

Eye drops. Won’t make up for lost sleep, but will help.

Comfortable flat shoes. Sure heels make you look great, but after hours of standing up, you’ll be happy you packed a more comfortable alternative.

Stain removal wipes. That meatball sub seemed like a good idea.

Granola bars. Perfect for a quick nourishment break.

Mouthwash or breath mints. Everyone has been trapped into talking to someone who has “death breath.” Don’t be that someone.

Extra batteries for equipment. This is one of the many items you’ll pay an arm and a leg for at the conference center’s gift shop.

Small digital camera. Take pictures of your booth, empty before the show to best show signage, displays, etc., and again while it’s filled with eager attendees for future promotional uses.

What’s on your must-have list? Share in the comments section.

Trade Show Design: Audience Boredom is the Real Challenge

You’re heading to the biggest trade show of the year. You’ve checked out your competition and your exhibit looks as good as theirs looks. You have last year’s team back. Everything will be as good as it was last year. You are ready to make the most the show. But are you ready for the real competition? An audience that is totally and completely bored.

You Have Only a Brief Moment to Make an Impression at a Tradeshow! Attendees Only Recall 15% of the Displays Visited.

A rendering of a question mark mazePeople are surrounded with so much slick mass entertainment, on-demand info, interactive experiences, and noise and hype that they have moved beyond oversaturation – they are now tuning most of it out. Trade show attendees – and your target customers – are a product of this environment. They quickly scan a booth and make a very rapid decision about whether to invest more time or effort in a visit. Now, you not only have to beat your competition, you need to capture the heart and minds of your prospects that are harder than ever to engage.

Studies have found that on average trade show attendees can only recall 10% to 15% of the displays they visited 24 hours later, but the most valuable customers remember over 40% of exhibits even a year later. That is the dilemma – the casual show attendees won’t remember much but do not really matter; the high- value buyers probably remember what you did last year.

You have only one brief moment to make an impression. Do you want your target customers to see your trade show exhibit and think, “been there, done that”? (Don’t forget – your most valuable prospects never miss a show and they saw your booth last year.)

So ask this simple question: When was the last time you changed the appearance of your exhibit?

If the answer is more than two years, pick up the phone and call the best trade show exhibit designer you can find (we can help!). If your booth was typically forgettable, it will look dated. If your booth was the star of the show, it will be unforgettable and remembered as last year’s exhibit. No matter what, a dated exhibit will send the wrong message about your company and the wrong message about how you feel about the attendees of this show.

In this fast-paced, competitive world, trade show visitors want “new”. That doesn’t mean that you need a completely new exhibit, perhaps it just needs to be refreshed. But, now more than ever, it is important to show that your company understands how to succeed in this hyper-competitive marketplace.

Insuring Your Tradeshow Display: What Exhibitors Need to Know

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Consider Insuring Your Trade Show Display

Tradeshow displays are very expensive marketing investments and as such, you should consider insuring your properties in case of loss or damage. While the likelihood of a significant loss is rather remote, it is possible. Natural disasters can strike the warehouse where your exhibit is stored or even convention centers (A tornado did considerable damage to the Georgia World Congress Center in a few years back).

insurance_riskFire is the most common threat to your trade show displays. Trucks can be involved in accidents and trailers have been known to catch on fire due to tire problems. Warehouses are not immune to fires and in 1967 the entire McCormick Place Convention Center was destroyed by a fire with a large trade show set up and ready to open. The fact that losses like these are unlikely makes insuring display materials affordable.
Exhibit companies, for the most part, do not insure client-owned exhibits stored in their warehouse. Trucking companies normally provide very inadequate coverage based on weight (usually around $1.00 per pound).

If you are concerned about this, you should first check with your accounting department to determine what your company policy is regarding casualty insurance. Many large companies are “self insuring,” meaning that they simply pay for any losses themselves, rather than pay for insurance. Small and medium companies usually have some type of insurance coverage, but all assets need to be recorded, especially those that travel around like displays.

If you would like to insure your display, get an up to date inventory list and have your tradeshow exhibit company provide you with the replacement cost of the display. Be sure to update this information annually. Current photos of the display set up will be important if you have a loss.

If you do decide to purchase coverage, make sure that it covers your materials 24/7 no matter where they are. Need trade show advice? Let’s Talk.