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28 July 2014
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Organiser's Guide - Exhibitions

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Thinking of booking a show stand? Check our step-by-step guide to what needs doing when.

A trade show can be one of the best ways to get in front of and show off to your target audience. Although it can be exhausting, it may also be the most rewarding few days of your business year.To make the most of your investment, book as soon as possible. This includes the space itself, ordering furniture and electrics, booking time slots for the build and breakdown, and putting dates in key staffs’ diaries.

AS SOON AS YOU CAN...

Book your stand. To ensure a good position, don’t procrastinate, just get it done. If a show has been running for a few years, many exhibitors re-book soon after the event has finished, so getting in early is key. The best spaces are those with the most open sides and will always be the first stands to go. For maximum footfall, consider an island, where you can be seen from all angles. It is important to ensure you are located in the appropriate area, as exhibitions are often divided into sectors. It’s also a good idea to huddle in with your competitors, so visitors can make a quick comparison. If you’re in a different area, they may miss you altogether.

6 MONTHS BEFORE...

Think about your objectives. Do you want to promote the company, a product or are you simply creating a space for client meetings? It is important to think about this as the design should be dictated by the stand’s primary use.
Wow-factor. With hundreds of other exhibitors, you need to ensure heads are turning. The best stands appeal not only visually but to more than one of the five senses. If appropriate, use fun and quirkiness to draw people in. Food and drink need to be thought out as it’s an easy way to get noticed. A glass of fizz on stand can be a way to ‘break the ice’ and engage people in conversation.

3 MONTHS BEFORE...

Staff. The right team on your stand is essential, so make sure they are going to be available. Pick those you can trust to be friendly, informative and who will maintain professionalism throughout a tiring few days.
Insurance. This is very important, particularly for multi-day events, as you’ll be leaving expensive equipment in the venue overnight.
Furniture. Whether you just want a couple of chairs for the team or you’re looking to create a larger area for clients, remember to book this in advance.
Storage. Having space for your brochures and other collateral can sometimes be an after-thought. The venue may not provide this so ensure that your stand has enough cupboard space for everything you need.

1 MONTH BEFORE...

Check the exhibitor manual. Go through this with a fine tooth comb to ensure your exhibition experience runs smoothly.
Data capture pens. Make sure you have a suitable number of these for your stand size and number of staff. People are unlikely to have lots of business cards with them and this way you can build up your database quickly and efficiently.
Internet. Check with the venue that you have access to Wi-Fi if you’re planning on bringing a laptop. Some venues will charge for this extra service and prices vary.
Electrics. There’ll be an appointed electrical contractor at most exhibitions which you must use if on a ‘shell scheme’ stand. ‘Space only’ stands can usually wire their own electrics but always check with the Operations Manager.
Flowers. Find a suitable florist for stand decoration. Remember, attracting people isn’t just about visuals so think about which flowers will have the nicest scent and will compliment your stand.

1 WEEK BEFORE...

Transport. Make sure all the logistics have been sorted in terms of getting everything to the venue. Check where the nearest car park is and make sure you are not stopping in unsuitable places. It can be tempting to get as close to the venue as possible for unloading but be aware of restrictions as you don’t want to create problems and hold things up.

2 DAYS BEFORE...

Allow plenty of time to build the stand. The earlier you get this done the better before the mad rushes of late-comers pour in.
Lighting. This is important to get right as no one will want to stand in harsh light. Set the dimmer switch low, with pinpoints on important graphics.

ON THE DAY...

Allow good time to get to the venue. It is usually a good idea to arrive around an hour before the exhibition opens.
Appoint a stand manager. It is important to make sure that the team knows exactly why they are there and what they should be saying. Morning pep talks are a great way to get your team motivated and excited about what they are selling.
What to wear. Make sure your team come dressed appropriately and in keeping with your company values. Exhibitions can also be exhausting and being on your feet all day means comfortable footwear is a must.
Breaks. Allow proper breaks (with a decent lunch) and plan your staff turn-around carefully to keep the team refreshed and enthusiastic for the duration of the event.

CHOOSE YOUR STAND TYPE

  • A ‘shell scheme’ stand is the standard option and comprises a modular system of poles and panels that clip together. This option often includes furniture and lights.
  • A ‘space only’, usually applicable to larger stands, means you can do with the space as you please. It’s often best to hire a professional contractor to design, create and build (and pack down) what you need.
  • For exhibitors on a budget, a ‘pod’ might work well. At the V&E show, for example, this includes a small, ready-built and branded stand with a screen. All you need to bring are your marketing materials.

EXHIBITION NO-NO'S

  • Don’t sell to other stands.
  • Don’t break up your stand too early.
  • Don’t forget your comfortable shoes.

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