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How To Buy A Tradeshow Display (Hint: It Isn’t A Commodity)

Tradeshow coordinators are responsible for juggling enumerable details, from booth carpeting to airline tickets to lead tracking. They must work within a budget and ensure that the company’s goals are met, all while being true to the brand. If budget were the only consideration, then the coordinator could simply buy the cheapest display, like buying a widget. Because the company’s reputation is at stake, the savvy marketer understands that they are buying more than just a display. They are building on their brand, projecting an image and creating a positive experience for the tradeshow attendees. So those in the know turn to a display provider who offers solutions and stands behind their product.

Approach this task as though you were shopping for yourself. You know you want the best, but you also know that the best doesn’t have to be the most expensive. Plus, you don’t want to pay for anything you don’t need. So you shop around, do a little research. List the characteristics that are most important to you. You’re looking for the best value!

  • Be the Interviewer – Learn about an exhibit display provider through their web site and by asking questions. How long have they been in business? Where do they do their printing? What about warranties? What is the turnaround time? Ask whatever questions are important to you and will help meet your exhibiting goals.
  • Solutions – You have a choice. Look for an exhibit provider who offers multiple options to fit your goals, not who wants to pigeonhole you into their preferred product offering. Would you rather go to an exhibit provider who sells only one brand exclusively, or one who sells multiple brands with different features and price ranges?
  • Service With a Smile – You should get along well with your sales rep. If the two of you connect, you’ll communicate that much better. Your rep should listen to how you want to use the display, and to your goals in exhibiting. Speak up if you want to hear other solutions. You should be doing most of the talking and your rep most of the listening.
  • Hands-On Approach – You want an exhibit provider that does the work themselves. If they job out hardware repairs and printing, then they are little more than a broker with a less vested interest in your finished product.
  • Clicks and Bricks – Many options are available for purchasing displays online, some at rock-bottom prices. Before you add something to your “shopping cart,” consider whom you are purchasing from. Are they halfway around the world? Will they be there for you if something breaks? What if the finished product is not what you expected?
  • Natural Resources – Getting good information from the exhibit provider can make or break you. They should be able to provide you with graphic design services, if you need them, or graphic specs for your own designer. They should give you design templates when available, and alert you to any potential concerns prior to printing.
  • Show Me the Money – Give your provider a budget range and ask them to give you options for displays within that range that fit your requirements. Weigh the pros and cons of each, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions.
  • Back Me Up – Your exhibit provider should offer ongoing support regarding repairs (preferably under warranty), setup instructions, new graphic panels for upcoming events, etc.
  • It’s A Setup! – Your exhibit provider should offer install and dismantle (I&D) services at any venue at which you exhibit. Ask who will be doing the work and who will be supervising them. Are they trained in the displays you have purchased?

Long Term – The bottom line is that you are not just purchasing something to take up space at a tradeshow. You are making an investment in your company’s image. It has to work for you now and five years from now — and so does the exhibit provider. That’s where we come in!


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