In the past few days I have compiled some data for a client of mine on their yearly trade show spend and it has highlighted some interesting metrics around hiring a 1 off trade show for each event versus purchasing a trade show stand that you can use repeatedly for your entire trade show program.  More on that data later in the post but first let me explain some of the pros and cons for the 1 off and the repeat use stand.

THE ONE OFF STAND

The one-off stand usually refers to the one-off hire of a trade show stand or booth at an exhibition.  The cost will traditionally include the design, the hire of the items, transport to and from the venue and labour to install and dismantle.  At the completion of the show, in most cases, you will retain nothing and this can be also refereed to as a “build and burn”.  You can do a hybrid of 1 off hire items supplementing that with items such as banners and key graphics that you use and keep across your trade show run.

Bayer @ VNCA 1 off Hire Stand

Bayer @ VNCA 1 off Hire Stand

Bayer @ AVA 2012 1 off Hire Stand

Bayer @ AVA 2012 1 off Hire Stand

PROS:

  • You can change the look and the theme for each trade show event you attend.
  • You are not locked into the same size space for each event as you have a stand that only fits a pre-determined size eg. 6m W x 3m D.  This allows you to take more space at the shows where you want to make an impact and downscale at the shows of lesser importance.
  • You do not have to pay for storage of your stand in a warehouse when not in use.

CONS:

  • You have to re-start the design and sourcing products and services anew each time you do a show.
  • There can be a lack of consistency across the look and feel of your trade show as it has a different vibe every show you attend.  Consistency in the marketing of your brand to existing and prospective customers is SO vital, so don’t underestimate how valuable consistency is!
  • It can do your head in.  All you want is the same freakin’ stool in green because it matches your logo and across the 5 shows you do in a year, you have more variation in your stool that there are discoverable languages in the world.  So the key take away from doing one-off stands is that you will have to build in some flexibility with finishes and selections as there is A LOT of variance from both supplier and  hire location!

THE REUSABLE STAND

This typically refers to the stand that you, the exhibiting company own and store.  Normally you would partner up with an exhibit firm to design a stand that you can use across your trade show program and the exhibit house is responsible for the warehousing, transport and install / dismantle of it.  I think my best advice here it to go with a kit form of items that allow you to have large or smaller stands depending on your requirements rather than be looked into a permanent size footprint – say 6m x 6m.

Thiess @ Ausrail 2011 6 x 3 Reusable Stand

Thiess @ Ausrail 2011 6 x 3 Reusable Stand

Thiess @ Ozwater 6 x 6 Reusable Stand

Thiess @ Ozwater 6 x 6 Reusable Stand

PROS:

  • You have a consistent look across your trade show program and once you have developed and locked down the stand design, you aren’t faced with “what the HELL are we going do for THIS trade show”.
  • You can predict your costs for the trade show calendar up front.  As you know the stand you will be using, you can then get your exhibit house to provide costs for each show you attend well in advance.
  • Although the stand is reusable, you can build in the flexibility of updating graphics and messaging and even changing the colour of the stand.  Just because it is a reusable stand does not mean that it is set in stone!

CONS

  • You will have to store the stand – at either your own premises or that of a third-party.  Your exhibit house will usually have a network of storage facilities that you can park your stand in.
  • If you make the investment in building a repeat use stand, you will be locked into it to get the return on investment for around 2 – 3 years.  Upshot of this?  Don’t build yourself a stand so ugly it burns your retinas.  Take time to get it right and ride your exhibit company like a pony at a church fete to make sure they develop something that will blow your hair back.  In a good way.
  • Make sure you have buy-in from all the stakeholders in your company to have a repeat use, modular stand.  I know of one company a few years ago who decided to do a reusable stand that did not run it across the desk of the CEO with enough detail so the response when Boss-man turned up on site was “What the (rhymes duck) is THIS?!?”  He was right, it was particularly ugly stand done by an inept contactor with bubbling laminate and 300 x 300 bathroom tiles used on the floor.  And the poor buggar was stuck with it.  So start well in advance and get everyone on board the “YES!” bus.

You will notice that I did not mention cost benefits for either the 1 off stand or the repeat use stand in the pros and cons above . That’s because – largely – it is determined on a case by case basis.  But I can tell you from the data I have collected based on my client’s example I mentioned in the intro above, the repeat use stand is more cost-effective than the 1 off stands across a 2 year show run. Figures? About $400 difference from the more cost-effective repeat use stands to the higher cost of doing 1 off’s.  Any exhibit house of value can run the figures out for you if you want to look at your options so why not do just that?

Tune for this week is one of my favourite one hit wonders…Plastic Bertrand!  God with talent like that, I can’t believe that bloke only knocked out one single killer song….

See you next week!