My trip to Singapore did not go to plan.  Rather than painting the town a nice shade of crimson and sinking Singapore Slings, I was sick, dammit.  The kind of sick that saps your energy and makes you linger in the dessert section of the room service menu.  At 7.15 in the morning.  Between sessions flaked in front of MTV and the “50 best R&B tunes of the 90’s”, I did manage to stagger through some parts of Singapore and I found it provided some key lessons for the trade show industry.

1. Forget projection, pump your coin into LED screens.

I have had a spate of clients wanting to use projection screens on their stands. And my advice is don’t bother.  There are too many factors out of your control like venue lighting, natural light within the exhibit hall (hello SCEC!) and the need to drop an expensive black ceiling above your stand.  Best direct your budget into LED screens where you can guarantee the outcome and vibrancy of the AV presentation.  The exit foyer in Gardens By the Bay totally this with interactive LED screens all set in a dark as night hallway.  Result!

Flower Gallery @ Singapore

Flower Gallery @ Singapore

2. Shock, and therefore awe.

Do you ever feel like you have seen everything and there is nothing new.  Yeah, this feeling partially inspired my trip to Singapore as I was hungry for new inspiration.  My first slack-jawed moment in Singapore cam when I entered the Cloud Forrest Pavilion and was met by this soaring man-made waterfall,spitting water and thundering through the vertical garden.  Well…WOW.  This is a potent lesson for your exhibition stand.  You have to work so much harder to break through and deliver the “WOW” moment as we have so many distractions on the trade show floor.  There’s my phone that’s ringing, I am trying to figure out where I get some water, I need to call this person by 2.30pm, I need to figure out what to have to dinner tonight that is NOT cheesecake and…do you see what I am saying?  This is just a slice of my thoughts at any one time (I took out the part where I think about marrying Dave Grohl and joining his band) and your trade show stand has to compete against this constant chatter as well as your competitor stands.  So for the love of all things hairy, STAND OUT by being different, being a freak, zigging where other zag, showing some emotion and just being AWEsome.

Cloud Forest @ Singapore

Cloud Forest @ Singapore

3.  Ye olde, not mould(y)

One of the most visited sites in Singapore is Raffles.  My take on this is it represents a time when Singapore was at it colonial peak, a time that has passed but looked on with curiosity.  It represent old world-class, secret rendezvous, hand-held embroidered fans and wafting cigar smoke. In a time where Singapore is seriously pushing new architecture boundaries with unique shapes and forms, Raffles still attracts the crowds, if only because its reputation.  Your trade show program could tap into old world hospitality like Raffles has done.  You could serve high tea (not the ubiquitous coffee) on your stand, you could offer comfortable seating or a concierge to deal with small errands that delegates need taken care off.  You could do what you say you are going to do and follow-up on stand enquiries.  You could offer such amazing and non skeezy service on the stand your company becomes known for its fully dialled in trade show staff.  We all get wistful about times that have passed especially in service levels…can you imagine the response if an exhibitor focussed only on providing the best service, no excuses, on the trade show stand?  That, would be something indeed.

Raffles @ Singapore

Raffles @ Singapore

4. Touch is underused in the trade show industry

Settle, now.  Looking through my happy snaps I realised that I took lots of photos of textures while in Singapore.  From the smooth orb of the Art & Science museum, to the cubes on the Ticket Box Office, to the drunkards path timber pattern on the School of Art, I just got wild about textures.  I think texture and the sense of touch is shockingly underused in the trade show industry. Yes, touch screen technology is being increasing used but why are so many stands consumed by the roll coat paint finish where there are so many more attractive and surface techniques that scream “touch this” to be used.

Retail Wall @ Singapore

Retail Wall @ Singapore

If you have had a trip open your eyes to a new way of working or ideas you could apply to your industry, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

So with spending a fair whack of time listening to R&B tunes of the 90s while eating layered mousse cake (excellent healing properties BTW), I re-discovered this slice of whackness.  Pull on your shirt with shoulder pads and let’s do this!

See you next week!