After several years of unprecedented setbacks and virtual events, the exhibit industry is once again thriving. Its invigorated resurgence isn’t quite back to pre-pandemic levels, but in-person trade shows and experiential activities are gaining promising momentum indicating a robust and rewarding future.
The exhibit industry’s return, however, is not immune to global labor and supply shortages. Exhibit fabricators and service vendors are actively supporting motivated trade show clients while navigating economic obstacles and waiting for the market to self-regulate.
What Challenges are Impacting the Exhibit industry?
It’s pretty much basic economics: Pent up demand and less product equals higher prices. This trickle-down or domino effect stems from a perfect storm of pandemic-related economic dilemmas. Within the past 18 months, product suppliers shut down or slowed down production and couldn’t rebound fast enough to keep up with economy’s surprisingly rapid turnaround. Backlog orders are now compounded by new ones. The result? A vicious cycle of exhibit supply shortages, high demand, lagging labor, long lead times, and sticker-shock prices for products and services.
How Do Supply Chain Shortages Influence Exhibiting Costs?
Higher prices for exhibit components and shipping are coming from the top, which is unfortunately passed on to trade show clients. Also, the struggle to buy certain exhibit materials and fixtures, such as furniture, plywood, specialized graphics, and shipping/storage containers extends delivery timelines. But the good news is that despite these economic hurdles, the exhibit industry has never lost its luster.
What’s the Best Way to Plan for Your Next Trade Show?
If exhibiting at a trade show is in your company’s budget, don’t procrastinate. Instead, think long-term planning, resiliency, unity and enthusiasm. Building or refurbishing an exhibit may be a bit bumpier than in the past, but with proper planning and the right partnership the potential for a successful comeback is immense.
Five Ways to Ensure Your Trade Show Plan is a Hit:
Plan Early – Evaluate and refine your goals, budget, timeline and needs as early as possible while allowing time for possible setbacks. If you’re planning a new build, contact your exhibit account executive at least six to nine months ahead of your show to allow for brainstorming, design, ordering supplies, fabrication, delivery, and set-up. Even if you’re refurbishing an existing booth, start six months ahead of your show date to allow time to pull your existing product from storage, evaluate it, and complete the refurbishment.
Bump Your Budget – Due to higher prices for supplies and services, it’s best to build a buffer into your budget for higher material costs, such as that imposed on plywood. Or, to help offset build costs without compromising impact or quality, try focusing on a lighter weight, minimalist exhibit design. This type of streamlined modification supports the population’s fundamental shift to a more environmentally smart and simplistic aesthetic, while lowering fabrication, shipping, drayage, and set-up/tear down costs.
Be Flexible – If your exhibit ideas call for components that are hard to come by, be open to new ideas or changes that are more assessable. As exhibit fabricators, we always try to meet our clients’ demands, and in this market, flexibility is key to making that happen. We’re a creative industry so ideas and impactful solutions are endless.
Be Patient – Even before the pandemic, being patient was essential. The trade show process is filled with unexpected challenges, and many of us have already had our patience tested due to constant supply chain hurdles. Eventually, life turns a corner so supply chain relief should be on the horizon.
Enjoy the Journey – Despite cost changes, a lot of good has come out of the exhibit industry’s in-person, trade show crash. For one, it’s kicked our human adaptability into overdrive creating a new way to live, deal and accept an unpredictable future. For another, it’s made us appreciate the need and desire for human connection like never before. Maintaining a positive mind and enthusiasm during the exhibit process will help ensure successful returns on your investment.
Is This a Good Time to Re-Enter the Trade Show Circuit?
Despite ongoing challenges, the exhibit industry has proven it can sustain during the hardest times. It is still considered to be the best way to boost your brand, connect with existing and potential customers, launch new products, generate leads, and scope out the competition. The absence of in-person trade shows has spawned a plethora of unique and ambitious marketing opportunities for those ready to embrace the comeback and enjoy the ride.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world last year, the entire event industry was hit hard. Trade shows, conferences, meetings and conventions came to a screeching halt. Most of us immediately scrambled to deal with the fallout by devising plans focused on viable solutions for a devasted industry.
Convention halls repurposed their facilities to support pandemic needs, trade shows transformed into virtual platforms, and businesses created digital trade show booths to showcase product. Emergency survival plans were varied and necessary.
The Show Must Go On: Flexible Strategies for a Better Future
1. Taking Action – At K2, we quickly jumped into action by reshaping our strategic plan while staying focused on what’s important – quality and clients. Despite the dramatic decline in exhibit design and fabrication, we still had clients with needs for museum and corporate interiors, product launches, graphics, and other permanent environments and solutions.
We shifted our production power by reorganizing the company structure to ensure that we could meet these needs long term. This meant reducing overhead and running on a lean but highly skilled and talented team. We believe that even though change is difficult, it ultimately leads to a stronger path. We can now focus on resilience, growth and longevity.
2. Vegas, Baby!– Reshaping K2’s business strategy also involved expanding to better match the exhibit industry’s comeback and demand. We’re proud to announce that we’ll be opening a new Las Vegas, Nevada, location by summer 2021, while continuing to service clients in Southern California. The Las Vegas location will enable us to provide more affordable choices, such as cost-effective production, transportation, storage and show services, to clients who maintain a huge exhibitor presence in the area.
The Las Vega location will position K2 for a better, brighter, more confident future that far surpasses the ordinary. A future that reflects society’s determination to escape isolation, share new innovations, and connect their products with live domestic and international audiences. This determination, paired with signs of a COVID-19 decline, is bringing live trade shows back to earth in 2021: NAFEMin August, Orlando; JCKin August, Las Vegas;CEDIAin September, Indianapolis; AACCin September, Indianapolis; Utility Expoin September, Louisville; SEMAin November, Las Vegas; and CESin January 2022, Las Vegas.
To prepare, trade show clients are ramping up for what many of us believe is not just a trade show comeback, but an explosive rebirth bursting with originality. For K2, this means refining our strategy to meet creative production and location opportunities as they round the corner. In today’s environment, flexibility is everything.
3. Emphasize Core Values – Quality, responsibility, integrity, respect and teamwork. Following these core values is one strategy that didn’t change. We did, however, mix in an extra dose of gratitude to take them to the next level. The result? It gives us the strength needed in today’s tumultuous climate to embrace what we believe will be a healthier, more awe-inspiring future.
Running on Authentic Enthusiasm
It turns out that as much as we would like to erase 2020, it actually reminded us that entrepreneurial strategy should always reflect passion, risk, as well as the ability to persevere when the world says stop. The pandemic circumstances clearly left us humbled, but far from paralyzed. And for that, we’re grateful.
Greening up the trade show industry is no longer a trend being tossed around in staff meetings. It’s become a unified, save-the-planet movement that is now part of exhibitor’s and builder’s daily to-do lists. Yes, greening up the industry is a tall order, especially since eco-friendly terms alone can be mindboggling. Deciding which ecologically responsible changes to make can be intimidating. But those working in this busy, high carbon-footprinted industry aren’t afraid of the challenge.
Exhibitors are working with builders to find eco-friendly alternatives to replace earth-clogging gimmicks on the show floor but are still skittish about building a green exhibit because of cost. That’s ok, because going green doesn’t mean you go it alone. Exhibitors who look past the show floor to enhance their “good steward of the planet “standing can team up with an eco-conscious exhibit builder that uses more affordable means to combat industry waste. Brand impact is still the number one ingredient, it just has positive environmental impact injected into the formula.
Let’s chat with K2 Design and Fabrication Founder Dave King to find out how the green movement is making a difference.
Q: How is K2 helping to green up the trade show industry?
A:Running an eco-conscious exhibit company has always been a vision of mine and K2 co-owner Claudia King’s. We listen and learn from industry research and collaboration while working through waste-reduction barriers that keep many companies from moving forward. As a result, we’re constantly evolving by incorporating sustainable strategies into our daily operations. We focus on replenishing, not depleting, our earth’s natural resources by using sustainable materials, recycling, repurposing and charitable giving. Taking steps that matter benefits clients, the industry and the planet.
Q: How does this benefit exhibitors looking to reduce their carbon footprint?
A:Our build, re-use, dispose and other sustainable in-house practices are always incorporated into exhibitors’ projects. Our green practices support theirs, and beyond. We recycle leftover aluminum, steel, paper, plastic, carpet and e-waste so our clients know that their project-related waste is ultimately utilized in another way. We also donate materials, booths and computers to charity and local school districts. In a way, trade show booth components can live on for decades.
Q: How important is it to use green materials for exhibits or display environments?
A:For some clients, it’s important, but for most the cost of building a zero-waste booth out of sustainably harvested materials goes beyond their budget. A $200,000 exhibit can quickly become $300,000, and many sustainably harvested materials have a short life. We have built green booths, but mostly focus on building exhibits that last and can be easily refurbished down the road to save money. Our exhibits will last five to 10 years or more, which is considered a long time in an industry known for excess waste. We use environmentally friendly materials, such as graphics, flooring and aluminum wall frames with fabric faces that can be recycled when they’re changed out. Also, about 90 percent of the structures we build are painted with VOC-free paint to reduce emissions, which dramatically decreases the use of non-sustainable laminate and powder coating.
Q: Are there other ways you work with exhibitors to reduce waste?
A: Absolutely. We believe efficiency and minimalism are essential to reduce waste. Therefore, we always build exhibits backwards, meaning that we start with what happens on the show floor. While exhibit clients are focused on replacing marketing items with eco-friendly alternatives, we’re focused on the cost and ease of building, shipping, drayage and set-up, but in reverse. Using the least amount of materials and structures possible throughout the entire process will save costs all around – less material equals less set-up hours, drayage, shipping and storage.
Q: Are you able to repurpose exhibit materials?
A: Yes! That’s the fun part. It’s amazing to watch used material take on a new life. We send fabric walls that clients want to change out to the fabric company that made them so they can make fabric bags. We also send structure walls to a local paint ball company to use in their playing course. Also, a large part of our production includes 3D printing to create objects to be be used in booths and other display environments. After the show or exhibition, these items can be used or repurposed in clients’ offices, at events, and for other marketing purposes. And, 3D materials are completely recyclable.
Q: Are there laws that mandate your green practices?
A:Yes, there are many environment-related state and federal laws and regulations. We go above and beyond being compliant on all mandated material and system requirements and are always on the forefront when laws come around the corner. In fact, many times, we are already compliant before a practice or materials requirement is mandated.
Q: What types of challenges do you face in your green efforts?
A:Most of our challenges have to do with recycling. It’s hard to find recycle companies that want the materials and don’t charge exorbitant disposal fees. We always work it out, but it’s definitely more challenging than it was a decade ago. Despite the challenges, we never waiver on our waste diversion goals. We’re extremely mindful of recycling’s impact on the environment, so we always make efforts to do our part. We stay focused on a zero-waste end goal, and the state of the planet for current and future generations.
Q: What green efforts are in K2’s future?
A:Our green efforts are both personal and professional so that makes eco-friendly actions a no-brainer. As of today, K2 is about 50 percent green with plans to steadily increase that number. I remember when I was young trying to play sports in smog-filled air. Fortunately, people cared enough back then to change it. For me, that’s proof that when we team up with others, we can lead the way for a cleaner future.
For all of your trade show and branding environment needs, please contact the K2 Design and Fabrication team today to talk about how we can help.
If your dogs are barking and you feel like you’ve lost your marbles after walking or working a trade show you’re not alone. Trade shows are famous for providing the ultimate professional payoff thanks to endless networking, educational and deal-making opportunities. But they can also introduce a high level of stress, physical demands and commitments.
Whether you’re an exhibitor sharing your brand for eight hours a day or an attendee who is walking and absorbing industry information, persistent show expectations can be exhausting. And, if you’re not prepared, the challenges can send your mind, body and emotions into major overdrive.
The challenge to stay upright is especially difficult at some of the huge, multi-day trade shows such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and International Builders Show® (IBS) held in January. These shows add further wellness challenges because they fall right after the holiday crunch and during the winter cold and flu season.
Avoid the Walk, Talk, Drop Trade Show Trap
So how do you stay strong, focused and healthy at your next trade show? The best way is to make yourself a priority through self-care practices. Self-care is part of an integrative health approach that focuses on your mental, emotional and physical well-being. It’s about being kind to yourself, giving yourself sacred space, and being mindful of your environment. It’s also about listening to your mind and body when they dictate your needs.
Practice Your Self-Care Routine
Check out these holistic-based, preventative health tips designed to help ensure your next trade show experience is a great one. Once you take an active role in refueling your health and happiness, you may find that you’re more centered, productive and less anxious while participating in the trade show circuit.
1. Focus on Nutrition – “Let food be thine medicine…,” said Hippocrates. Even if it comes from a vending machine? Yes, just choose the nuts. Whole foods are essential for nourishing your body and feeding your gut microbe population in the intestines. It strengthens the immune system, keeps energy levels up, the mind focused, and digestive troubles away. Create a diverse snack plan packed with natural food so you can refuel as needed at the show. High-fiber, easy-to-carry choices include cut vegetables, peanut butter packs, hummus, oatmeal packs, fruits, nuts, and whole food snack bars. When you eat out with colleagues, make the best choices possible but don’t beat yourself up when you can’t.
2. Drink Up– If you’re thirsty, it means you’ve gone way too long without water. Hydrate continually with water and some herbal teas. You might want to ditch the diet soda and keep alcohol consumption in check at show-based events so you stay fresh and focused. Keep dehydration away by drinking one glass of water for each alcoholic drink. Also, carry a refillable water bottle or keep one in your booth to flush toxins and give yourself an energy boost while talking, walking and standing for hours at a time. Kudos to the exhibitors who share their brand with refillable, recyclable water bottles.
3. Get Your Zzzz’s– This is one practice you don’t want to sacrifice. When you sleep your body is hard at work repairing and replenishing. It supports your tissues, immune system, breathing and cardiovascular health. Lack of sleep impairs your problem-solving, reasoning, mood and productivity – not good when you have to be alert and social. If you struggle with getting enough slumber when traveling you may want to talk to your doctor about alternative support.
4. Soothe YourMind – One word: meditation. It’s no longer a hippie ritual. It’s commonplace nowadays because it works, according to studies outlined by the U.S. Department of Health. Meditation raises consciousness by training the brain to support self-control, generates self-awareness by redirecting thoughts from those of helplessness, and teaches us to clear our minds. It also helps us stay present and mindful of our surroundings. Headspace and Calm are meditation apps that offer dozens of short (3-5 minutes), free sessions. Once you get used to meditating, you’ll find you can take deep breaths and refocus without the app even when you’re on a crowded trade show floor.
5. Move YourBody – Exercise is another way to keep the immune system strong and help ensure you maintain your trade show stamina. It raises serotonin levels, and improves circulation, muscle strength and endurance. It also helps reduce fatigue and clear the mind of repetitive thoughts and stresses. Try to choose a hotel that has an indoor gym or practice yoga moves and stretches in your room. Remember to breathe deeply to feed your cells with oxygen.
6. Feed Your Soul – After a long day on the trade show floor, try to practice self-care healing methods to help you disconnect, provide solitude, and raise your spirit. Find what resonates with you best: Walk between the trade show and your hotel by yourself, read a book, take a magnesium bath, write in a journal, listen to music or calming podcast, nap, recite gratitude thoughts, pray, go sightseeing, or watch sports or a Hallmark movie. Feeding your soul will replace negative with positive energy to reduce stress and fatigue, while providing strength in response to outside stimuli.
7. Comfort is King– Keep it light, loose and simple. Comfortable knit clothes and flat shoes are always the best bet while working or walking the show. Tight shoes or heels only lead to sore backs and feet, which will compromise your self-care efforts. It’s best to keep them for after-hour events when you want to dress up.
8. Keep Germs at Bay – Did you know that flu and cold viruses can spread to and from others up to 6 feet away? This means trade shows are jam-packed with contagious critters. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),viruses mainly spread from droplets spewed by coughing, sneezing and talking, but can also remain on surfaces. Keeping your immune system in tip-top shape through self-care strategies is your first line of defense. Also, avoid touching your face, wash hands frequently, and disinfect doorknobs and the remote control in your hotel room.
From all of us to all of you, we hope your next trade show experience is healthy and prosperous. Happy holidays and have a happy New Year!
For all of your trade show and branding environment needs, please contact the K2 Design and Fabrication team today to talk about how we can help.
Thanks to today’s escalating technological advances, exhibitors at trade shows or other venues pretty much have limitless options to create It’s a compelling process that is quickly gaining traction and raising the bar on what constitutes an impactful, interactive environment. It’s also giving companies a way to stay ahead of the creative curve, uniquely demonstrate their brand, and gain a definitive edge over the competition.
Ironically, 3D printing is stepping back to old values by providing show attendees or public venue visitors a tangible, 360-degree view of realistic products, objects or brands. In today’s screen-stimulated world that’s somewhat of a reprieve. Furthermore, because 3D options and applications are enormously vast, companies can more easily provide phenomenal storytelling experiences while adhering to strict brand and budget requirements.
What can 3D printers create?
3D printers can create full-color displays, models, prototypes, replicas, and take-aways of all shapes and sizes that are specifically designed to stimulate viewer’s senses. A few 3D examples might include a model of your product, logo or new project; a replica of an existing architectural structure, site or object; a character, personality or brand mascot; or, any complex shape you want to bring alive. Need a model of a not-yet-released product? Done!
“3D printing is redefining how we design and fabricate trade show exhibit and other display environments,” says Kevin Griggs, Project Manager for K2 Design and Fabrication. We have two in-house Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers that run consecutively to meet client demand. Most often, the final 3D products are used to replace or enrich our client’s print, digital, gaming, virtual applications, and other forms of marketing and presentation strategies.”
What’s involved in the 3D process?
3D printing is an additive process that is exceedingly faster, easier and much more cost-effective than traditional manufacturing. It begins with our engineering department creating a digital model of the requested item, which most often comes from a client’s scans, drawings or ideas. The design is imported into slicing software that deposits thin layers of selected material, such as plastic, to deliver a finely finished product. A full range of colors, textures and finishes (i.e. metal, wood, etc.) can be incorporated during the process, or the object can be printed white and painted. Extra-large items can be printed in pieces and prefabricated before arriving on the trade show floor or venue site.
What are the benefits of 3D printing?
Although there are a number of benefits for using 3D printing, topping this list are affordability, speed, uniqueness, simplicity and object options compared to traditional manufacturing processes. 3D printed objects can also be reused due to their strength and durability. For these reasons, 3D printing is an excellent option for companies looking for ways to stay relative. Engaging 3D products have already proven to bolster booth or venue traffic, engagement, post-show buzz, memorability, and potential sales.
How have we incorporated 3D printing into our client’s projects?
Seagate, partnering with aworld leading maker of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV, Drone), attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas where they proudly showcased drone technology within a 3D-printed scenic landscape. K2 created a realistic model of the Eiffel Tower as part of a Paris, France, setting in the booth. Seagate used this setting to demonstrate the drone’s ability to capture aerial footage that is instantly relayed to a viewing screen. CES attendees were captivated with the technological data process, which was literally at their fingertips rather than high in the sky.
SeaSpine, a global medical device company was a standout at the North American Spine Society (NASS) in Chicago after K2 created 3D models of recognized structures to showcase their products. The inspiration came from their exhibit theme “Partnering to Architect a Better Surgical Solution” which was inspired by the world-renowned architecture in Chicago and other famous cities, as well as their continued focus on innovative design. To reflect these inspirational themes, K2 printed small-scale models of the Chicago Marina Towers, Hotel Del Coronado, Eiffel Tower, Sydney Habour Bridge, and then incorporated SeaSpine’s spine hardware and other surgical products into the architecture. Accompanying information plaques described details of the structures and incorporated products.
Visitors of the new Pacific Visions wing at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific are still being mesmerized by K2’s 3D replica of ocean sea life. Using the 3D printing process, along with scientific coral reef research, K2 created a mind-blowing, true-to-life coral reef landscape that was embedded in an infinity display. The Infinity Coraldisplay consisted of a black shadow box with portholes for viewing, LED lights, and infinity mirrors to give the illusion of seeing vibrant coral reef that goes on forever. To ensure accuracy, K2 first created a diminutive test form, and then printed the final coral reef environment, custom painted it, and installed mirrored boxes behind each window.
Want to know more about incorporating interactive 3D experiences at your next trade show or for a display? Contact the K2 team today at (951) 808-9092.
There’s something to be said about nurturing the next generation. In the exhibit industry, it’s a priceless way for experienced employees to share knowledge, gain fresh insights, and facilitate success. This intergenerational approach becomes even more valuable when performed in a strategic, motivating mentor-mentee environment. The mentor teaches industry specifics while providing personal long-term support, and the mentee maintains confidence while learning to effectively build skills and navigate the system.
Diverse Benefits: From Company to Client
Efficient operations and meeting high expectations are a must for custom exhibit fabricators, which is why they are always in need of quality support. That’s where mentoring new help comes into play. It encourages proficient problem solving and contiguous workflow to ensure maximum productivity. Mentoring is clearly an asset to an established company, but what’s in it for the important clients behind the projects? Should clients even care about who’s working on their project or how it’s being built?”
“Without a doubt,” says Alfonso Gonzalez, K2 Engineering Detailer and mentor. “Client satisfaction is everything to us, which is why we’re extremely selective when it comes to bringing new individuals on board. Establishing and practicing mentor-mentee relationships helps ensure we maintain quality and uphold our client commitments. It also ensures we utilize modern technologies, increase productivity and avoid confusion, which are benefits for everyone involved,” he says.
Strong Company, Satisfied Clients
K2’s mentoring strategy is designed to create a culture of learning based on reciprocity, mutual respect, clear communication and accessibility. Mentors become strong leaders focused on bridging the generational gap and passing on their legacies, and mentees share ideas without fear of repercussions. Moreover, competition is eliminated or utilized in a positive way and feedback becomes an expected exchange. When this happens, job satisfaction increases and project expectations are exceeded, both making for internal unity and satisfied clients.
Alfonso, who has three decades of experience in the exhibit and display industries, is mentoring Jacob Kling, K2’s newest engineering detailer. Alfonso is teaching Jacob essential design, engineering, CAD and CNC computer skills used to create exquisite 3D structures. In turn, Jacob, who has a background in the mill work industry, has introduced innovative CAD skills to enhance K2’s existing process. Both schools of thought are married creating stronger professional paths for Alfonso and Jacob, as well as contributing to the tradeshow industry’s future.
Mentoring for a Strong Future
As the tradeshow, exhibit and display industries evolve, the importance of sharing intergenerational skill-sets, challenges, set-backs and triumphs in a collaborative environment becomes critical. The established skills of yesterday have proven to be much more effective when infused with fresh viewpoints and approaches. The industry as a whole – clients included – all reap limitless process and product benefits.
“Mentoring just makes sense,” says Alfonso. “I’m not only teaching Jacob industry responsibilities and skills, but also the value of team spirit and inclusiveness. Being a role model is an incredibly rewarding and respected experience. It’s nice to know that what I’ve learned in my career will benefit the future.”
For Jacob, the benefits of mentoring are just as rewarding: “I’m learning the tricks of the trade in a trusting, engaging environment and preparing for a successful career in exhibit fabrication,” says Jacob. “Everything I learn from Alfonso is focused on high service and product standards. I couldn’t ask for a better way to grow.”
Exhibiting at a trade show is one of the most valuable marketing platforms available to showcase your brand. It provides an exclusive environment jam-packed with viable business prospects who are hungry for meaningful interactions and solutions.
If you fulfill their product or service needs, it can mean impressionable returns and future growth for your company. In fact, statistics show that 77 percent of executive decision makers found at least one new supplier at the last trade show they attended.
Exhibitor Stories Create Powerful Impressions
One of the biggest challenges of being an exhibitor at a trade show or expo is that you’re vying for the same attention as some of your biggest, brightest competitors. So how do you overcome this obstacle to become one of the most memorable experiences at the event?
“It’s all in the design,” says K2 Design and Fabrication Creative Director Tony Zorrilla. “It isn’t about dollars spent on a trade show exhibit or being focused on how to one-up your toughest competitors. It’s about telling your story. It’s also about being strong, authentic and intensely selective about how you create brand awareness, engage your potential clients, and build customer commitment.”
Ready to Get Started on Your Trade Show Exhibit Design?
A trade show booth, custom display or permanent installation is a large investment, so ensuring the process starts off efficiently is crucial. Whether you’re new to the trade show circuit or a seasoned player – or have a slim or sizable budget – the design process is where the magic begins. It’s also essential to your exhibiting success and one area of marketing, advertising and branding where you shouldn’t skimp.
If new to the game, you can expect your first meeting with an exhibit account executive, graphic designer or creative director to be extremely informational so that you feel comfortable moving forward. If seasoned, it’s a chance to update, upgrade and make other changes to enhance the impression, interaction and functionality factors of your existing exhibit.
“It’s vital that clients bring as much information to the table as possible in the beginning of the product design process,” says Tony. “This ensures the final exhibit design hits the mark by meeting all of the client’s logistical needs, as well as being significant enough to attract and engage valuable prospects.
10 Points to Discuss During Your Exhibit Design Meeting
Designing a trade show exhibit is all about identifying your needs and determining the most efficient way to meet them. In order to accomplish this, essential information needs to be discussed to ensure your event goals are translated aesthetically and effectively through design.
When you begin the design process, you may be asked:
1. Why you are exhibiting at the trade show(s) – launch a product, brand recognition, connect with new prospects, etc.?
2. What are your products and services?
3. Who are your competitors (and location at show) and prospects?
4. Do you have design character, style, structure and color preferences?
5. What are your branding guidelines?
6. How would you like to incorporate your logo and tagline?
7. What are you exhibit needs – signage, product displays, meeting rooms, interactive displays, modular structures, speaker platforms, demonstrations?
8. Would you like to incorporate graphics, interactive technology, video and television?
9. What is your budget and timeline?
10. What are your future exhibit goals and needs?
How a Creative Exhibit House Ensures Your Design Needs are Met
The exhibit company, account executive and creative director behind your design are just as important as your company and what you bring to the table. As a client, you shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. In return, you should receive honest and valuable feedback on how your design project will be realized.
“One of the most important elements of a successful exhibit design is the relationship behind it,” says Tony. “It takes trust on both sides to ensure an honest, supportive and strong exchange. Information regarding a feasible budget, expectations, relative goals and obstacles should always be discussed.”
As an example, at K2 Design and Fabrication, we:
Listen, think and then act.
Immerse ourselves in your brand, culture, consumer behavior patterns, and competitive landscape.
Gather relevant insights and information on product/service categories and target audiences.
Strategize a marketing and messaging position, and develop ideas and tactics to fulfill the strategy.
Envision and create meaningful architecture and engaging storytelling devices.
Apply research on trends, motifs, building techniques, light and sound.
Ensure timeline and budget are achievable.
Meet K2 Creative Designer Tony Zorrilla
K2 Design Director Tony Zorrilla is a seasoned professional with 29 years’ proven experience exceeding client’s design expectations. He prides himself on taking an old school approach, such as providing hand drawn preliminary sketches and visiting client’s companies to get a feel for their product, service and culture. Tony is also a proud recipient of the Disney Thea Award, as well as a highly requested design lecturer at many top local universities and art schools.
Tradeshows have existed for hundreds of years, evolving from local merchant trade fairs to today’s mega, multi-hall conventions held worldwide. Nothing has come along to replace them. Nope, not even the internet. In fact, digital marketing has done the opposite. Rather than replace the need to meet, greet and sell in person, it’s actually revolutionized the way we do it.
Online Interaction Increases the Need for Human Touch
Despite naysayers who spout that tradeshows are dying, the industry has not only stayed strong, it’s intensified. Strategic, open-minded businesses – ranging from start-ups to established behemoths – are still powered by their need to personally connect. They’ve learned to tap into rapidly developing social, technological and economic trends to attract attention, qualify leads, and beef up their customer base. It isn’t a vain move based on wanting to be the biggest and best; it’s actually a thoughtful strategy essential to survival and success.
Businesses that have dropped out of the tradeshow circuit due to falling profits may blame their loss on the fear that exhibitions are fading, when in fact, it may have resulted from a lack of strategic planning. If so, how does a business execute an exhibit program that builds them up, not tears them down?
5 Tradeshow Tactics to Build an Effective Exhibit Program
1. Objectives and metrics.Review new tradeshow objectives and past show metrics regarding booth attendance, qualified leads, meetings booked, sales generated and total ROI, location and demographics, media engagements, and show crossover to make sure you’re attending the right shows. Measurements are everything. Tradeshows that worked for you in the past may not work now. Many shows have evolved to meet the demands of more precise, targeted and vertical markets than in the past. Whether you attend small shows or more prominent shows like CES, NAHB or NAMM, brand positioning, quality exhibit fabrication, and engagement opportunities are crucial.
2. Invest in exhibit design.Present your product or service in an environment that is strikingly different than the competition, and precisely representative of your brand. Create a culture using an engagement-centric approach with 3D experiences, lighting and sound, speaking platforms, product demonstrations, special guest activities, and staff environments for private and group meetings. Interactive environments are critical for products and brands to be fully embraced. Use an experienced exhibit designer, engineer and production manager to help create a memorable exhibit that showcases your story, culture and brand within your budget.
If you used an old booth at your last tradeshow, evaluate its effectiveness. Did it support your marketing objectives? Was it conducive to attendance volume and product display? Did it wow your customers? If your old booth didn’t quite hit the mark, now’s the time to invest in a quality refurb or purchase a new one. Evaluate your customers’ motivating trends and skepticism, and make sure you evolve and innovate to meet their needs at future shows.
3. Promote before the show. Invite customers, prospects, vendors and media to experience your brand first hand. Recognize the value of using social media, live streaming, media distribution, and other digital venues to introduce yourself, promote your presence at the show, and compel customers to come. Online communications can be isolating, which has intensified the need for face-to-face engagements. Decide what resonates with your audience and motivates them to crave in-person connection.
4. Prepare staff and content.Just as you spend time on measuring, designing and pre-show promotion, make sure to focus on your booth reps and sales force. Make sure they become brand ambassadors who know your exhibit’s capabilities, integrated activities and experiences, and incentives inside and out. They should also be fully capable of demonstrating your product and worth quickly and effectively to viable leads. Also, ensure your promotional and graphic content is striking and refined, and your brand message and story are engaging enough to gain competitive advantage.
5. Post show review.Follow up on leads, and review metrics and performance. Question whether you fostered networking opportunities, nurtured relationships, felt relevant against the competition, and generated brand awareness. Also ask: Did your tradeshow experience align with your strategic vision? Did your experiential marketing tactics meet objectives? Did you reach and inspire your targeted demographic? Forecast your needs for the next show.
Just as history shows, tradeshows are evolving and here to stay. Make sure to capitalize on your digital marketing momentum by investing in an exhibit program that perpetuates interest, engagement and trust with your audiences.
Think back to the last time you walked a massive trade show. You probably don’t remember the blur of booths sprawled across miles of crowded isles; however, you most likely walked away with visions of a few spectacular standouts. If so, what set these one-of-a-kind winners apart from the others? Were they created from a perfect plan or did their magic happen by chance?
“Show standouts develop from an extraordinary plan and vision, striking design and elements, expert fabrication, and always embracing creative energy,” says K2 Account Executive Carol Bjorn. “Each of these criteria are essential to creating a powerfully wowing product.”
Doria Wins. Again.
The K2 team took this strategically creative approach to produce a client’s award-winning, cool-vibe standout at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. K2, in collaboration Santa Monica-based Doria, International Inc., created a captivating exhibit that was named on Exhibitor’s Magazine’s 2019 CES most remarkable exhibits list.
There were 4,400 individual exhibits featured at the 2019 show; 20 of them, including Doria, were selected as being the most impressive. In fact, this is actually Doria’s second win. Doria also made the 2018 CES top 20 list after K2 fabricated a style-centric, loft-inspired booth for the company.
“Creating a winner is never about having a rigid plan and hefty budget,” says Carol. “It’s always about becoming one with a client so that everyone’s creative vision, ideas and knowledge come into play. With Doria, it was about utilizing their amazing expertise in industrial design, as well as using vibrant color and modern elements to showcase their high-grade technology products. It was also about being confident in our ability to support and contribute to the company’s extraordinary dream.”
Hot Presence, Cool Vibe.
Doria’s 2019 award-winning, 20 ft. x 40 ft. exhibit was based on the company’s stylish, drama-like vision to use repurposed shipping containers in an L-shape configuration. Inviting kiosks and sturdy visual elements were incorporated into the design to effectively showcase products and captivate customers. The robust, black-and-red overhanging sign was internally lit to powerfully present their brand. The show space, including the shipping container interiors, offered a uniquely masculine, yet soothing respite for customers to browse, relax, and talk product and sales.
“The exhibit was downright fabulous,” said Eddie Lee, Doria’s Design Director. “The exhibit style clearly reflected our desired ambiance and no-frills brand, which was essential to promoting our precision-made phone cases. Attendees were drawn to our environment making the show not only an astronomical success, but unbelievably exciting, as well. Our products soared and so did our customer relationships. We definitely left a prominent footprint at this year’s CES. This was our dream and partnering with the K2 team helped make it happen.”
K2’s design and build for Doria International Inc. for CES 2019 was named one of the top 20 most impressive exhibits by Exhibitor Magazine.
According to Exhibitor Magazine,”held annually in Las Vegas, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) isn’t just the largest trade show in the United States by every measure; it also sets the bar for global exhibiting trends at the beginning of each calendar year. The 2019 show featured 2.9 million square feet of show-floor space and more than 4,400 individual exhibits. And EXHIBITOR editor Travis Stanton viewed every last one of them (and has the blistered feet to prove it), including everything from big booths representing major multinational brands to small spaces where startups made their trade show debuts. After four days, more than 50 miles of aisles, and thousands of booths to consider, Stanton and the EXHIBITOR editorial team arrived at a list of the 20 most impressive exhibits from CES 2019.”