When you exhibit at trade shows, there are many factors that contribute to your success. One major contributing factor is your trade show exhibit. Because it’s such an important part of the whole package, it’s vital to choose a trade show exhibit company that knows what it’s doing. The company you choose should care about what you want and need and be fully capable of providing it. It should have a team that’s easy to work with, both creatively and logistically.
Looking for tips on how to choose a trade show exhibit company? We’ve got you covered.
How to Choose a Trade Show Exhibit Company
1. Decide What You’re Looking For
Before you even start looking at potential companies with which to work, you need to have a good idea of what you’re looking for. That means evaluating what you need in an exhibit and thus what kind of exhibit you want. Some questions to consider will include:
- What kinds of trade show goals are you working towards?
- How will your exhibit help you meet those goals?
- What do you want to do with the exhibit? Is it purely for display or will you hold demonstrations?
- Do you need multimedia capabilities?
- What kinds of events are you attending: big events, small ones, or in-between?
- What size booth do you need?
- Do you need an exhibit that can be configured in multiple ways to fit into different sizes and footprints?
- Will you be exhibiting internationally?
2. Gather Information on Possible Candidates
Start your search once you have a good idea of what your exhibit needs are. There are multiple options for finding candidate companies:
- Google: A simple Google search will toss up plenty of possibilities. You can narrow your search by location if you want to work with a local company.
- Recommendations: Ask colleagues and other contacts if they recommend companies they’ve worked with in the past. Trade publications, associations, and industry thought leaders will also have recommendations or lists of award-winners for high industry honors.
- The show floor: If it fits with your timeline, your next event can be a great way to find candidates. Walk the show floor and check out the booths that grab your eye with well-placed product displays and eye-catching designs. Then chat with the exhibitors at each booth and ask about their exhibit designers.
3. Narrow Down Your Options
When you have a good list of candidates, you can start to research each one to find out if they look like a good fit. The internet makes this easy, as a quick look through company websites should provide all the information you need.
For each company on your list, check out the following:
- Learn about the company and their creative team on the About Us page.
- Browse their portfolio and testimonials to see their previous work and get an idea of what their clients are saying.
- Look at their Services page to see exactly what services they offer.
- Check out the rest of the site – Do they seem knowledgeable about your industry? Does their work reflect current trends or forward-thinking designs? Do they have a blog or other information pages? Have they won any awards?
You can also do some cross-checking by hunting down verified reviews on Google and on social media platforms where those companies have accounts. Most companies pick the best reviews to display on their own websites. Off-site reviews may have more information.
At the same time, you’ll likely be able to eliminate a few of your candidates just based on incompatibility issues. For instance, some companies may not work on the kinds of exhibit you need. And if you require a local company, you can eliminate any that are too far away.
For websites that don’t provide all the information you need, put those companies in your “maybe” list. If your shortlist doesn’t have the right candidate, your “maybe” list can serve as a backup.
4. Make Your Final Choice
Once you’ve completed step three, you’ll have a shortlist with several dozen candidates. If you feel comfortable making your final choice at this point, you can stop the process right here and just contact the company you’ve chosen.
But it’s worthwhile spending the extra time to talk to each company and request a proposal. Ask a few questions and you’ll get valuable information that can help you make exactly the right decision. Once you’re satisfied with what you’ve learned, make your choice!
11 Questions to Ask Your Shortlist
- What experience do you have with the kind of exhibit I want?
- What kinds of clients do you work with, and in what industries?
- What level of creative talent will work on my project?
- Can you provide references from previous clients or a portfolio of previous work?
- What accreditations does your company hold?
- What is your design-to-completion success rate?
- Do you do all design and fabrication work in house? Are any parts of the process outsourced?
- How long has your design team worked together?
- What is your customer satisfaction rating?
- How do you address unsatisfied clients and rectify their concerns?
- Do you have exclusive trade show resource relationships? Where are materials sourced?
6 Red Flags to Avoid
There are plenty of positive attributes that you want to find in a trade show exhibit company. But there are red flags you’ll want to avoid too. These red flags aren’t 100% definitive signs that the company can’t do a good job for you. But they are often indications that the company has a poor track record when it comes to delivering for their clients.
- A bare-bones website with no information about the company, its services, or its people
- A website without testimonials, case studies, or photos of previous events and projects
- A company unwilling to provide references or a portfolio of previous work
- References that don’t match up with what clients say about the work; for instance, their website testimonials are all positive, but off-site reviews tend to be negative.
- A company rep or design lead who is more interested in pushing their own vision than asking about what you want
- A lowball offer that’s much less than the others on your shortlist – This might look great on the surface, but they could be cutting corners on quality or services in order to give you that low price.
Take Your Time to Find the Right Fit
Your quest to choose a trade show exhibit company is a hugely important undertaking. The exhibit you take to events will have a massive influence on how successful you are at those events. It only makes sense to choose a company that’s skilled and experienced—and willing and able to prove their worth to you before you hire them.
Our team has the experience, abilities, and creative sense to accomplish a huge range of products. Want to learn more about what we can do for you? Contact us! We can’t wait to talk.