On Display: What to Know About Trade Show Exhibit Companies

Trade show exhibit companies offer a variety of services to make your experience hassle-free. Many solutions are available to consumers....
Andrew Doerfler
April 12, 2019

On a trade show floor, an eye-catching booth is essential for standing out and attracting prospective customers. While some exhibitors are comfortable going DIY, industry leaders spare no expense to hire top trade show exhibit companies to design and build their displays. The best trade show booth design companies will bring to life a business’ message and brand with interesting displays.
When it comes to renting or buying a trade show booth, it’s important to find full-service trade show exhibit companies that are right for you. Trade show booth manufacturers and designers offer a variety of exhibit solutions, from custom modular exhibits to high-end island exhibits. This is what you need when looking for a trade show exhibit house.

Why Hire an Exhibit House?

Top trade show exhibitors know that they need to go big or go home at major industry events. That’s why they rely on the best exhibit display companies to craft customized trade show booths. These branded environments use strategic messaging and interactive elements to draw in and engage trade show visitors.
Of the more than $25 billion spent on exhibiting each year, 11.4 percent of that spend went to exhibit design and fabrication, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. That comes out to more than $2.8 billion going to trade show exhibit companies. It’s the third biggest expense for exhibitors, after reserving exhibit space and show services.
This all means that companies are willing to drop top dollar to make the biggest impact possible at industry expos and conferences. If you don’t want to be left in the dust, you should consider renting or buying an exhibit from a professional company.

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The Top Trade Show Exhibit Companies

Who are the biggest and best trade show exhibit companies? Every year, the publication Event Marketer compiles a list of the top 50 fabricators for the trade show and event industry. These award-winning exhibit houses often have innovative design teams and full-service offerings.
Even if you can’t afford to hire these top-shelf designers, looking at their work can give you an idea of what you hope to present with your custom trade show displays. Here are a few of the most interesting exhibit designers and builders on Event Marketer’s “Fab 50.”  

Legacy Trade Show Display Companies

Some of the most popular and largest booth manufacturers and designers have been at it for a half-century years or more.

  • Czarnowski: This 70-year-old Chicago-based industry leader continues to innovate for clients like AbbVie, Coca-Cola, General Motors, LG and Porsche.
  • Dimensional Communications: A New Jersey stalwart, Dimensional Communications has made well-regarded outdoor exhibits and done work for Disney, Ferrari, JLG, the NFL and Gatorade.
  • Freeman: Freeman’s fabrican space is among the industry’s largest. Its clients include Broadcom, LAV and Spectrum Brands.
  • George P. Johnson: More than 100 years after its founding, the so-called “Big George” makes striking exhibits for the likes of Google, IBM, Nissan, Salesforce and Toyota.
  • GES: An industry leader with more than 2 million square feet of storage space, GES’s heavy-duty clients include Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Caterpillar, Pfizer and Merck.
  • Sparks: A Philadelphia exhibit house coming up on its 100th anniversary, Sparks makes eye-catching booths for Google, LEGO, Samsung and Salesforce.
  • The Taylor Group: First opened in 1931, the Taylor Group boasts long-running client relationships, nurturing business with the likes of BMW, Intel, Miele and Samsung.

Newer Exhibit Houses

Innovative players in the exhibit industry creating custom brand experiences have sprung up in the last few decades.

  • ADEX International: A 40-year-old Cincinnati company whose clients include GE Aviation, Mitsubishi, Aetna/CVS and Procter & Gamble. It boasts full-service offerings and modular design.
  • Astound: An innovative Las Vegas exhibit house, Astound boasts live-streaming and virtual reality exhibits. Its clients have included Nike, Google, GoPro and Tesla.
  • ASV: A California company that specializes in the automotive industry, with clients like Hyundai, Intersport and Lexus.
  • EWI: A major player based in Michigan specializing in pop-up retail. Its clients have included Amazon, Audi, Kia and Subaru.   
  • Freddie Georges Production Group (FG | PG): This savvy California house recently made a splash by creating a replica of downtown New Orleans at the E3 gaming trade show. It boasts tech clients like Carbon, Facebook, Oculus and Netflix.
  • Pinnacle Exhibits: A new modular system called “Brand Blocks” is making waves, and they are known for double-deck exhibits. Clients include Amazon, Sony Playstation and Verizon.

Need help shipping your trade show booth and materials?
Fill out a short form or give us a call and one of our trade show specialists will answer your questions.

Should I Rent or Purchase a Trade Show Booth?Should I Purchase or Rent a TRade Show Booth

One of the biggest decisions an exhibitor needs to make before a trade show is whether to rent or buy the exhibit booth. There are pros and cons to each option, and ultimately the decision will depend on your trade show budget and habits.

Buying a Trade Show Booth Display: Pros

Purchasing a trade show booth is often the best option for a company that will be exhibiting at many different similar events in the near future. This way, you don’t have to incur a rental fee every time a trade show comes up.
Buying the exhibit also allows you to make a completely custom exhibit, whereas rentals will have limitations on how far personalization can go. On the trade show floor, fully custom exhibits can stand out among more cookie-cutter models.

Buying a Trade Show Booth Display: Cons

Buying the booth, of course, involves higher short-term costs than renting. If you don’t put a substantial investment toward trade shows, dropping too much of that on purchasing a booth can hamper your ability to take on other necessary expenses. However, if you don’t anticipate any major branding changes and you’re reserving standard-size spaces, your purchased materials can be used again and again.
Buying isn’t a one-time-only expense, though. You still have to factor in the costs of storage, repair, and transporting your materials to each event. Make sure to consider these other expenses when weighing the cost of buying vs. renting. Eventually, too, you will want to replace your exhibit to keep if from looking stale.

Renting a Trade Show Booth: Pros

Trade show booth rentals make sense for companies that are only presenting at a few expos every year. The immediate costs are lower, and you don’t have to worry about storage and maintenance after the events.
Renting is also a logical option if your exhibit space changes in size or requirements from trade show to trade show -- with rentals, you can more easily switch up your items and setup for each event, and make sure your booth matches the show’s criteria exactly.

With a rented booth, you don’t have to worry about out-of-date branding or information because you can start from scratch each time without plunking down the expense to buy all new equipment.

Renting a Trade Show Booth: Cons

When renting, though, you are subject to what the trade show exhibit company has available. Pre-used items might have some wear and tear before you even receive them, rather than looking brand-new.
Customized rentals are available, especially when it comes to graphic design elements. But there will always be limits on personalization when dealing with rented items. You can’t design a rented display from the ground up.  

Split the Difference

If you’re torn between renting and buying your materials, remember that you don’t necessarily have to commit to one or the other.
If there are certain elements of your exhibit that you envision reusing for a long time, it could be worthwhile to purchase those while allowing yourself the flexibility of renting the rest of the booth. Then, you have portable display materials on hand that can be incorporated to exhibits of many different sizes, while renting allows you to craft a specific experience for each show.

What is Experiential Marketing?

An immersive, interactive trade show exhibit is a form of “experiential marketing,” also known as engagement marketing. This marketing strategy engages prospective by presenting them with hands-on, interactive experiences that associate your brand with feelings of fun and discovery. The method simultaneously informs clients of your services and competitive advantages while engaging them on a human level.
Unless you have expertise in this area, it’s difficult to provide an experiential marketing setup that is satisfying to guests. Sure, hosting games, activities, raffles, or contests at your booth can achieve a similar effect on a small scale. But the key is to create an experience where the engagement feels inextricably linked to your branding and services. That’s where the pros come in.
To stay competitive, the top trade show exhibit companies have come up with ways to guarantee their clients’ booths make a statement on the expo floor. They can design and/or build high-quality materials to bring your experiential marketing vision to life in an immersive branded environment.

Need help shipping your trade show booth and materials?
Fill out a short form or give us a call and one of our trade show specialists will answer your questions.

How to Choose a Trade Show Exhibit CompanyHow to Choose a Trade Show Exhibit Company

There’s no shortage of options available when it comes time to hire a trade show exhibit company. With so many moving parts involved in preparing for a trade show, you might want be tempted to go with the first option that fits your budget. But don’t rush into a decision -- the quality of your booth display will be a huge factor in your trade show success. Consider these questions before committing to an exhibit designer or builder.

Be Prepared

Before you reach out to exhibit houses, do your due diligence. Do your research, and consider attending a trade show to see examples up-close-and-personal. Have a vision of what you hope your exhibit will look like. You want to hire a company that will bring your ideas to life, not push you toward what they’re most comfortable making.
In addition, come equipped with the basic details that an exhibition company would need to know: The exhibit space size, your budget, the date of the event, and any deadlines. Be able to define your company’s goals in attending the trade show. This will allow exhibit companies to give a fuller picture of what they can do for you.

Booth Customization Options

Make sure in advance that the exhibit house is capable of meeting your customization requirements. Keep in mind that some companies are rental-only -- if you are looking for a 100 percent custom exhibit, you can cross these ones off your list.

Are You Experienced?

The exhibit industry is hot right now, with companies eager to get in on experiential and engagement marketing. As a result, plenty of flashy companies have popped up with trendy designs and eye-grabbing gimmicks.
But don’t let style overwhelm substance. If a company doesn’t have a track record of pulling off event exhibits, they might not be well versed in all the complications and questions that can arise throughout the process. While a newcomer can sometimes offer new and refreshing ways of doing businesses, don’t forget to make sure they’re comfortable with the nitty-gritty as well.

Ask for References

If you weren’t already referred to a company by someone you trust, don’t hesitate to ask for references. Exhibiting at a trade show is a big commitment, and you want to have confidence that your booth will come together smoothly. A list of past clients and testimonials is good, but nothing beats hearing an endorsement straight from the source.

In-house Services or Subcontractors

A full-service exhibit house will handle every aspect of your trade show exhibit. But in many cases, the company will subcontract out certain elements of the process to outsider service providers. Be sure to find out what aspects the company’s in-house team takes care of, and determine which company best matches your priorities.
You should also be sure to ask about the warranty, the quality of the materials used, and whether the company handles warehousing.

Customer Service

Your main goal is to find a company that can bring to life your ideal booth. But don’t forget about what goes on behind the scenes. A good trade show exhibit company will make good customer service a priority. Be sure to find out how the company handles and responds to requests, questions and issues. If an urgent matter concerning your booth comes up, you don’t want to be stuck talking to an answering machine.

Green Exhibiting

In an era when many consumers care deeply about social responsibility, one lens through which to evaluate exhibit houses is sustainability. Ask exhibit companies about their environmentally friendly practices, which could include green and sustainable materials, energy efficient lighting, biodegradable plastics, and transit methods that reduce their carbon footprint.
Besides, the stripped-down and organic look of a booth made with sustainable materials can even help it stand out on the trade show floor.

The Different Trade Show Booth TypesThe Different Trade Show Booth Types

Before you hire a trade show exhibit company, it’s important to know the specs of your exhibit space. There are many different types and sizes of booths on the trade show floor. Your booth design will depend on what kind of booth you choose. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of the different trade show exhibit varieties.

  • Inline booths: The most common and affordable option, an inline booth sits in a row with other booths. The exhibit is only accessible from the front. Typically these spaces are 10x10 feet, but sometimes other sizes are available.
  • Peninsula booth: A peninsula exhibit is accessible from three sides, with the back usually up against a row of inline exhibits or another peninsula booth. The floor area is also usually greater than in an inline booth, and the booth is more visible than the basic booths.
  • Island exhibits: Island booths have aisles on all four sides, allowing guests to enter from anywhere. These exhibits make it much easier to create an immersive environment, without having to grapple with an abutting exhibitor. Islands are the most expensive booths.
  • Double deck exhibits: Usually only an option in an island space, two-level booths present unique opportunities to create an immersive brand experience, or to provide private meeting space. Make sure the show’s height restrictions allow this.

Important Trade Show Booth Equipment to Know

Most trade show exhibit companies will be able to provide the following items for your booth.

  • Banners can make a statement and catch visitors’ eyes, but be sure to check if the show has any restrictions on them.
  • Custom modular displays are lightweight, cost-effective displays that can be adapted to a variety of different booth spaces.
  • Tension fabric is used to create bold, high-quality signage with visual impact.
  • Touch screen kiosks and video walls can add a modern, eye-catching flair to your booth
  • Light fixtures guarantee your exhibit looks exactly how you wanted it, rather than being left to the mercy of the event venue’s lighting

Shipping Exhibits to a Trade Show

After investing time and trade show resources into choosing the perfect trade show exhibit, you have another big decision to make: How to get your materials to the event location without a hitch. To make the trade show freight shipping process as smooth as possible, go with a shipping and logistics company with a proven track record and experience with trade show shipments and trade show freight services.
R+L Global Logistics’ trade show team specializes in making sure all of your exhibit materials make it to the trade show safely and on time. They offer a personal touch, with lauded customer service and the savvy needed to navigate the complicated process of trade show shipping. Getting in touch with an R+L Global representative is easy - just use the chat or call 866-415-8986.

Need help shipping your trade show booth and materials? Fill out a short form or give us a call and one of our trade show specialists will answer your questions.

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