Preparing for a trade show can be tough. Beyond budgeting, practicing your product demos and refining your 30 to 60-second sales pitch, you will also want to make sure you’ve found the right trade show exhibit company. Trade show exhibit companies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some specialize in one or two specific industries—often specific fields like technology or B2B services. Others provide an all-around range of services aimed at serving companies in a diverse range of industries.
Some focus on working only with large businesses and enterprises, while others specialize in trade show exhibit design and event preparation for small businesses and startups. Below, we’ve listed the key values and features that you should look for in a trade show exhibit and preparation company. If you’re preparing for your first trade show, consider adding these to your “must have” checklist to make sure the company you choose is a good match for you.
Experience in your industry
In any business, few things are as valuable as experience. This is certainly true of rental exhibit companies, where few things are as valuable and important as having experience working in your specific industry. When you’re choosing a company to help you design and build your trade show exhibit, look for one that doesn’t just have a long history of helping businesses, but one that’s worked with other businesses and brands within your field. Often, a level of experience within a specific field is more valuable than general experience as a trade show exhibit provider. For example, a trade show prep business with 10 years of hands-on experience, serving technology companies may be a better fit for you than an older, more generalized agency. Have your competitors had positive experiences with a certain trade show exhibit company? Does a trade show prep company in your area have a portfolio full of exhibits for other brands in your industry? If so, they’re likely worth adding to your shortlist.
The right design style
Most design companies, whether they specialize in trade show displays or printed marketing materials, have an in-house style. It could be a preference for a specific look, range of fonts, color scheme or other factors that differentiate it from the competition. This can be a good or bad thing for your business, depending on which company you opt to work with. For example, if your business has a more traditional, old-fashioned image, a newer, more modern studio that focuses on the cutting edge of design might not be your best bet. Likewise, if you’re part of a modern technology company, you’ll probably get better results from an exhibit design company that specializes in newer, more modern exhibits than from a company that specializes in helping conventional, aesthetically conservative brands. Looks matter, especially in the busy, crowded environment of a trade show. Look for a trade show exhibit company that not only has the right design skills but has a design style that’s a good match for your business and brand identity.
Reliable build quality
Trade show exhibits are investments that your business can use many times, often with updated signage to suit each event you attend. As such, it’s important to prioritize exhibit companies that have a reliable record of building high quality, dependable exhibits. Because trade shows are all about ROI, it can be tempting to cut corners by spending less than you need to on your booth. The end result is often an exhibit that looks great at your first event, but quickly loses its appeal as the shortcomings in the design and build become apparent. Instead of cutting costs, think of your trade show exhibit as an investment. Ask potential booth design companies about the materials they use and their manufacturing process. Ask for more information on the average lifespan of their products and how easily they can be reused. Over time, an “expensive” trade show booth can often be significantly more affordable than a cheap, less durable alternative. Build quality matters, and it should always be a key factor you look for when choosing a company to design and manufacture your exhibit.
A trade show exhibit company’s track record
Finally, it’s important to choose a trade show exhibit company with a proven track record. The best exhibit design and manufacturing companies not only deliver great work—they also do it on time, to your expectations and within your budget. When you’re comparing booth companies, check their testimonials from previous clients. Were they pleased with the communication and reliability? Did they reuse the same company for their displays and exhibits the next year? Are they still a customer to this day? Nothing is harder to fake than a track record, meaning a company with a great reputation is very likely to live up to your expectations. In the busy, stressful environment of a trade show, nothing is more valuable than knowing you have a reliable, proven partner on your side.