Whether you are preparing to go to a trade show in the coming months, or are planning for your own customer activation events, it is probably time for you to refresh your exhibit and set your plan in motion. While things feel a little more normal compared to this time last year, some things are still a little wonky and unpredictable. As a valued exhibit partner, we prefer to use this platform to help event planners, at any level of experience, with valuable tips and strategies to make your life easier.
There are a lot of factors that go into creating, building, shipping, installing, storing, and maintaining exhibit materials and we want to make sure our clients are making the best strategic decisions. While there are many factors that we do not have control over – shipping costs, drayage, labor fees, etc. – there are also many factors we can control and help find ways to save money.
To help you save time, money, and headaches, I have curated this list of helpful tips from an insider perspective.
Sounds obvious right? Not always. For many of our clients who have very full trade show schedule as soon as summer hits they are ready to take their foot off the gas and hibernate until the fall. Think about that, if all event planners are doing this then wouldn’t August or September be the BEST time to begin working with your design partners for the new year event season, putting yourself at the front of the line versus the back?
Planning early can not only be more relaxing, but it can also save you money, especially this year with potential supply chain delays and fewer exhibit designers to work with. The sooner you plan the more thoughtful your designers can be with creating a fresh design for your brand. Giving everyone more than enough time can also help them find areas to shift dollars without compromising the design and your goals, generating a better ROO and ROI. After all, the early bird catches better deals (which are much tastier than worms!)!
When you wait later to execute your display refresh, many times you find yourself rushing against the clock to get all the materials you need and paying expedited fees to do so. Lately this could also result in not being able to get materials at all due to supplier delays. Planning early not only gives you peace of mind, but it also allows for the time to make thoughtful decisions, find better deals, and take advantage of ground (sometimes free) shipping. Now, think about how you could apply those savings on adding value to your display with new graphics, new technology, better promotional items, etc.
When you plan early and design early you can also take advantage of advance discounts. Once you have your space planned out you can then easily order all your show services early taking advantage of the early bird rates. You can also take the time to get multiple bids on your shipping to find a better price. Most of all you can ship your display and Exhibit materials to the Advance Warehouse resulting in cost savings and possibly labor savings too because your shipment will be in your booth waiting for them versus the other way around.
When you work ahead of the curve you get to make a lot of preferential choices, including your labor team. We have been in the industry for 33 years and have worked with different labor companies and groups all over the country. Over the years we have made a list of our favorites in the cities we work. So, when we can plan early for a client, we are able to book our favorite teams. While this does not seem like a direct cost savings there are many benefits to work with your favs. The most important is that you already have an established, trusting relationship and they most likely already know the booth design and needs of your client. This alone can reduce the install time because they are not learning it as they go. They tend to work more efficiently also saving you time, and time is money. But is also reduces the room for errors which costs money.
Once you have the booth design and services locked in, don’t forget about travel plans for you and your team. In many cases booking hotels early give you better selection and possibly even better group rate discounts. But I also read years ago, that the optimal time to book airfare is 42 days out. I wish I could find that article to share with you, but the point has always stuck with me.
Remember the early bird has the better bottom line. Collaborate with one of our knowledgeable trade show experts to create the best strategic plan to help you save money on your upcoming shows without sacrificing design and style!
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