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How Flexible Modular Exhibits Help You Adapt to the 11 Changes that Affect Your Trade Shows

The world we live in is a constantly changing place:

  • Of the original Fortune 500 from 1955, only 11 are still on the list.
  • Since 1969, the only artist to twice have the #1 Billboard pop single of the year was George Michael, in 1985 (as part of the band Wham!) and 1988.
  • Since 1978, China’s share of global GDP has grown from 5% to 16%.
  • In 2000, the top 5 girl’s baby names were Emily, Hannah, Madison, Ashley, and Sarah, yet in 2013, the top 5 were Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, and Ava.

That’s 4 ways our world has changed substantially. And yet, your trade show booth has to adapt even more, to 11 changes that affect how it is shaped, looks, and is used:

  • Change in booth size
  • Change in number of shows
  • Change division or product represented
  • Change of industry targeted
  • Change in corporate branding
  • Change in marketing message
  • Change in the economy
  • Change in uncertainty about the future
  • Change of company ownership
  • Change in how good your booth looks
  • Change in marketing objectives

A custom modular exhibit can help you better adapt to these 11 changes with a more modular design, easily changed graphics, and exhibit rental. Let’s look at how these three aspects of modular exhibits help you adapt. The advantages add up to more than you likely realize.

MODULARITY: Modular design saves costs, changes exhibit shape and size

Today’s modular exhibit systems give nothing up on design. They are sleek, modern systems that create an impressive brand presence and can be designed specifically to meet exhibitors’ marketing objectives. But unlike traditional custom exhibits, modular exhibit systems are engineered with flexibility in mind: they can be easily taken apart and reassembled into different shapes.

This modularity can be done at two levels: the piece level, and the component level. At the piece level, you can take the individual metal pieces and recombine them into a different shape, such as turning parts of a wall into a tower. The more common reconfiguration happens at the component level, where a 10 x 20 back wall is divided into two 10 x 10 booths, or a 20 x 20 island is expanded into a 20 x 40 island.

This structural flexibility allows you to change your booth size or footprint much easier than if you have a traditional custom exhibit made of wood and laminates. So if the economy changes and you need to downsize your booth to reduce costs or expand your booth to take advantage of greater opportunities, modular exhibits make it much easier to flex up or down.

Or if your marketing objectives change (for example, from taking lots of leads to instead focus on hosting important meetings), modular exhibit properties allow you to reuse some or all of your parts in a new exhibit design more aligned with your new goals.

GRAPHICS: Easily changed graphics save on costs, improve target marketing

Changing the exterior surface on a traditional custom exhibit, beyond just swapping out a 3D logo, can be so expensive it’s often not worth it. Yet today’s modular exhibits, you can change out a panel, a side, or even the entire exterior of the exhibit with a new graphic, as easily as setting it up. This ability to change graphics has huge advantages for your trade show program.

You can swap out the graphics to let multiple divisions use one set of exhibit architecture but change the messaging for their sub brands. You can create a design that has one overarching brand message at the highest levels, but change out secondary graphics that target specific audiences at different vertical market shows. You can much more easily update your exhibit after a rebrand or company merger. You can swap out graphics to promote your newest products. And when the graphics wear out, you can get new graphics and keep using the exhibit hardware.

RENTAL: Rental exhibits stretch budgets, increase design flexibility

Overall, rental exhibits are a continuing trend that shows no sign of letting up. Exhibitors love the ability to go to one large show a year in an exhibit that they don’t have to buy, let alone pay to store for the other 11 months of the year. Generally, when an exhibitor rents the exhibit hardware and buys their custom graphics, it costs about a third to a half of buying the entire exhibit outright. A rented exhibit can be reused again the next year, but for many in high-tech companies, they love the ability to evolve or even completely change their design the following year. Just consider how much it would cost to buy a new exhibit every year instead! And if your company is feeling uncertain about the strength of the economy, exhibit rental is a hedge against risk, preventing the need to tie up capital in an owned exhibit property.

With modular exhibits, rental is even better, as it allows you to scale up your booth with greater consistency of design, as there is are almost infinite ways to create a larger exhibit around your already designed smaller exhibit with rented modular components, and these rented components will match the look and feel of your existing exhibit design. Or if you have two shows at the same time, you can rent an exhibit that exactly matches the look you’ve already chosen for your company.

Let’s look at a few examples of how custom modular exhibits increased flexibility for exhibitors:

Michael C. Fina: Exhibit rental allows this exhibitor to much more easily afford to change their entire exhibit design. Here are three different exhibits used over the years (with the same black cube chairs in each).

Innotek: Although using the same exhibit structure, this exhibit looks totally different with a second set of graphics, designed to appeal to a different target market and demographic. Modular exhibit systems allow for much easier re-skinning with a second graphic look.

Fujitsu: This exhibit was initially designed for a 40 x 40 island exhibit, but once seen at a trade show, was borrowed by other impressed divisions for spaces as small as a 20 x 20. The large hanging structure adjusts to these different booth sizes, which would be impossible with traditional custom exhibit structures.



MS Technologies: Knowing the full extent of their exhibit schedule from the onset, Skyline exhibit designers were able to design configurations for multiple booth sizes that MS Technologies would require. Custom modular exhibit systems allow designs from a 10 x 10 all the way up to a 30 x 30 with common exhibit components.





Flexible Trade Show Exhibits Save Money, Reduce Anxiety, and Improve Marketing

With modular design, changeable graphics, and enhanced exhibit rental, custom modular exhibits save you a surprisingly large amount of money, reduce your anxiety at having to deal with constant change, and allow you to promote more targeted marketing messages to different trade show audiences.
So if you aren’t already using custom modular exhibits, perhaps now it’s time to consider a change.

WWEAs you prepare for your future event and trade show planning, learn from your peers in the What’s Working in Exhibiting Benchmarks and Best Practices white paper. Learn how exhibitors have improved results, stretched their budgets, and reduced risk. Click here to request you free copy and learn more.

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

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