It's Back to School Time for Exhibitors

September 28, 2022
It's Back to School Time for Exhibitors

By Roger Noel, MA

Back to school:  A phrase that strikes dread into the hearts of school age children because it means their care-free summer days are coming to an end.  When I hear it I can’t help but think about the Staples commercial where the dad and two kids are walking the aisles of the store, as he gleefully tosses school supplies into the shopping cart, to the background music, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” 

It’s also a back to school of sorts for the trade show industry because the trade show calendar tends to run concurrently with the school year.  Early fall is a great time to rethink and refresh your exhibit and ad content for the new season, if you haven’t already
Some of the things you should be thinking about are refreshing your flooring, A/V content, hang signage, graphics.

Flooring
Depending on your industry, and how many trade shows you attend, flooring can sit in storage for several months.  At least two months prior to your next show you should do a visual inspection for damage.

Carpeting
Sometimes carpet may get rolled onto a core unevenly, as it’s prepared for storage, and other times the carpet can get crushed while in storage.  This can happen due to other rolls of flooring being stored on top of it, or the role sitting on a rack, or being squeezed against one in storage.  It can also happen if the carpet was previously rolled onto itself with no core support and stored and it creases under its own weight.

Once the carpet is unrolled, it’s not unusual to see areas where it appears to have different shades of light and dark.  This is usually due to crush (pressure) marks that have flattened certain areas.

The first remedy to try is getting a good, powerful vacuum cleaner and vacuuming the carpet to attempt to coax the crushed areas back into place.  If that doesn’t work, try a liquid carpet cleaning machine with warm water only.  Once the carpet looks back to normal, and is completely dry, it can be rolled back onto a cardboard core.  Make sure you have at least two people rolling so that you don’t crease the carpet again.

Vinyl
Vinyl flooring can crease for the same reasons as rolled carpeting.  Once you’ve unrolled it, if you see any areas that are unsatisfactory, leave it in a warm location away from direct sunlight.  This can help loosen up any creases over a couple days.

The better you take care of it the fewer problems it should give you!  If there’s no hope for your flooring then it’s time to re-order.  Just don’t wait until the last minute to do so!

A/V Content & Equipment
Take a moment to evaluate your current A/V tech and content in your booth.  If you have none, this might be a good time to add it.  If you already have it, ask yourself how you can improve on it.  LED panels are now in the mainstream, and they’re everywhere you look at trade shows.

If you’re new to A/V in your exhibit, or you don’t have the budget for LED panels, don’t worry!  4K wide-screen TVs are available in a wide range of sizes, from small up to 80 inches, and these days they’re much more reasonably priced than in years past.

If you’re ready to make the jump to LED panels, be aware that there are several types to choose from with widely-ranging prices. For more detailed information, please refer to my August 2022 blog about using LED panels in trade show exhibits.

Whatever kind of display you use, make sure that you have compelling and visually appealing for it.  If you haven’t updated it recently, it’s probably time.  If your company doesn’t have a creative department in house, partner with a local company or freelancer who can help you create cool content, animations and videos.

Graphics & Hang Signage
Inspect your graphics and hang signage.  If the edges are roughed up or spindled, or the paper has discolored, chances are it’s time to update them.  Graphics can be printed on a variety of materials, from paper to fabric.  They can be posted on walls, used on lightboxes, and even suspended from the ceiling.  Have some fun and get creative with them.

Summary
Just as a child needs to be prepared to go back to school, exhibitors do as well for the trade show season. This is the time of year to rethink and refresh your exhibit. Make sure your graphics and messaging are on point to quickly and effectively tell your story, and the other parts of your exhibit are in tip top shape. Don’t wait too long to find out that something needs to be replaced!