20 Questions to Ask Your Trade Show Exhibit House
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20 Questions to Ask Your Trade Show Exhibit House

20 Questions to Ask Your Trade Show Exhibit House

20 Questions to Ask Your Trade Show Exhibit House

  • Do you have a portfolio that I can review?
    • All good exhibit houses have portfolios; they are essentially their medium for bragging. Any decent exhibit house would jump at the opportunity to parade their portfolio of past clients, and you should let them do just that.  Not only will it provide you with some great potential design concepts, but it will also settle any doubts that you may have as to their ability to build what you envisioned.  If they don’t have a portfolio, or your doubts aren’t settled, you may want to look elsewhere.
  • Can you provide three references from past (or current) clients?
    • Clients will provide all of the best answers. Answers that are in line with your concerns, and that can give you valuable insight into entering a relationship with company x.  When an exhibit house cannot provide you with 3 solid references that is a red flag, and you should go find a company that can.
  • How does your overall design process work?
    • Have them run you through the entire design process from start to finish. It’s good to know, and will make you more knowledgeable when communicating with decision makers and your creative team.
  • How will your design improve our effectiveness in promoting our product or service?
    • Everyone wants to know how the booth design they are creating will help them stand out from the crowd and competitors. This is a fair question to ask, because if this isn’t included in the design and build stages, it’s not going to help you after it’s been built.
  • How do you figure booth location, traffic flow, venue restrictions, competitor placement, etc. into the exhibit design?
    • All good exhibit houses will use booth location, traffic flow, show/venue restrictions, competitor placement, and a handful of other factors to aid in the design process. Good designers will be able to leverage your physical location in addition to these other factors to present a much more powerful layout.  Give them your booth number (if they don’t already have it), and see what they can do for you.
  • What creative services do you offer?
    • You want an exhibit house that has full creative service offerings from CAD design to Photoshop and Illustrator expertise and everything in between.
  • Do you offer pre-show setups and walkthroughs?
    • Now if you are ordering a portable display, this will often be treated as a comical request. However, when you are dedicating the time and effort to construct a rental or custom exhibit that costs thousands of dollars if not more, you should expect to see pre-show photos and even a walkthrough.
  • Do you have any clients at this show?
    • Having clients at a show not only shows experience with the venue and association running the show, but the ability to leverage shipping costs.
  • Are your services turnkey? If yes, what is included in your “turnkey” pricing?
    • “Turnkey” is a term that is thrown around relatively loosely in the trade show industry. If the exhibit house is promising “turnkey” services, have them provide all of the services that are included under this blanket and which ones are not.  Often, show services won’t be included, but this is quite common as it is usually not under the control of the exhibit house.
  • Do you offer storage after the show?
    • If you’re going to need booth storage between shows, it is always better to ask up front than to be surprised later.
  • How far do your technical capabilities extend?
    • This can be very important for SaaS companies making demonstrations, tech companies, and anyone else who needs extensive AV, interactive elements, and other advanced technical components incorporated in their booth. Make sure that if the exhibit house doesn’t have the skill set internally, that they have strategic partners who can satisfy your technical needs.
  • Are you able to work internationally?
    • This question is only relevant to those who plan on exhibiting internationally in the near future, but if this may be in your marketing plan within the next couple of years it is certainly worth asking.
  • How much experience does your management team have?
    • In a complicated industry such as this, experience is everything. A seasoned management team brings an expertise that can only be accumulated through hands on learning.  Find out how much experience your prospective exhibit house has.
  • Do you provide show site event management?
    • This should generally be included in any “turnkey” exhibiting package, and is a very important piece. There is nothing worse than having something go wrong come show start, and not having anyone around to assist you.  Have your exhibit house confirm the presence of a show site manager who will work out all the last minute kinks should they arise.
  • How do you determine Installation & Dismantle fees?
    • If you don’t fully understand I&D labor (how much it is per city, straight vs. overtime vs double time, etc.) have your exhibit house explain it to you. Also, have them explain how it is factored into their proposal.  Some will quote the estimated cost into the original quote and others will wait until the show and have it billed directly to the client.  Either way is acceptable, the latter is simply more accurate.
  • How do you bill handling fees (drayage)?
    • Much like I&D labor, material handling is a show site expense that cannot be accurately calculated until the day of the show. Many companies will estimate this cost in the proposal while others will wait to bill it on show day for complete accuracy.  Simply ask how it is handled, and the exhibit manufacturers should provide you with their policy.  Don’t be alarmed if these policies differ from company to company, that is normal.
  • Do you combine shipments to reduce costs for your clients?
    • Experienced exhibit houses will utilize this technique to carry-down savings to clients. With multiple shipments being made to the same show or at the very least the same warehouse, there is tons of room for combining loads to save money.  First, see if the manufacturer has any clients at the show to share freight with.  If they don’t, ask what other ways they may be able to reduce shipping costs.
  • Do you complete all of the show paperwork and coordination with show contractors?
    • If the answer isn’t yes, go somewhere else. One of the main reasons to utilize an exhibit houses’ services are to cut down on internal time spent on exhibiting.  If they aren’t willing todo the paperwork and show coordination, then they are providing nothing more than construction, which should be reflected in their pricing.
  • Who will be my direct point of contact throughout this process?
    • At most companies you will have more than one point of contact (typically a sales representative and a project manager at the least). It isalways good to see how organized an exhibit house is upfront by questioning their processes.  They should be able to tell you who you will be coordinating with throughout the sales, design, production, exhibiting, and storage process from day one.
  • Do you offer discounts if we sign a contract?
    • If you are satisfied with an exhibit house, you should see if they offer contracts. This way you can lock in discounted pricing with a company that you know can satisfy your needs.  Try not to sign a contract that is too long; keep it to three years or less.

 

 

Danny Lambert

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