It’s Showtime! Time to choose a professional stand builder.
Right! In person events are back, deals are waiting to be nudged over the finish line, meetings need to be set up and your marketing strategy for the year is approved along with a meaty budget to fit the bill. How do you choose the right professionals to work with to implement your exhibition stands at the various events you have decided to attend? You need to choose a professional exhibition stand builder to ensure a seamless professional experience for your target audience.
Should the project not be executed professionally, on time, and on brand, the risk to your brand’s reputation is real.
HOTT3D has put together this article to guide and advise professionals in the events marketing space on important considerations when choosing a professional exhibition stand builder. We also created a checklist to help you prepare for your next exhibition so that you can ensure that your brand shines at exhibitions and events and all you need to focus on is the deal closing, handshaking, and future possibilities that are the reason for your spend at that event in the first place.
5 phases of project management
An event or exhibition stand can be managed like a project and a project management approach divides the project into 5 phases to help you plan your next expo stand/s and MICE events. (These phases can run together they are not fixed concurrent time frames)
During this phase, choose the events that you are going to attend based on your marketing strategy. The ideal time frame is twenty weeks or more before the show date. Consider that popular events usually sell out of floor space a year in advance, so it is advisable to make the decision about which events to attend sooner rather than later.
During the planning phase, you should book your floor space at the event you plan to attend, shortlist suppliers and set the budget for your stand. Twenty weeks is the guideline for shortlisting and planning with a professional exhibition stand builder.
Decide what you need to achieve on your stand – are you launching a new product – you might need display areas, and will you be engaging in high-level meetings? Do you need more formal and private meeting areas or informal lounge seating suited to your brands needs? When the goal is to make a prominent brand impression, decisions will be about about creating feature areas on your stand. An example of a feature area is a special logo with perspex or halo lighting. Pay special attention to your marketing goals to help you to assess the elements needed on your stand.
It is important to have a clear goal so that you can filter out the nice to haves from the strategic elements for your brands vision. Additionally, a clear idea of your goal helps when communicating with your professional exhibition stand builder.
It is helpful for stand builders to know their clients budget to provide the best service and save time in the negotiation process.
A client who is able to state their budget upfront will typically get the most value out of the design and negotiation process. A professional exhibition stand builder can give you a realistic quote for your brief when they know what the budget framework is.
Guessing a client’s budget wastes time in the design phase and creates a fuzzy brief outline and leads to frustration on both ends. Most professional marketing managers and exhibitors build a good relationship with their suppliers and are stating the budget framework upfront.
Your stand and event supplier should give you clear plans and timelines from the beginning of your interaction. These timelines should include:
- When they will present the design,
- When they will deliver the costing,
- What the deadline is for sign-off on the design,
- Payment of the deposit and approval of artwork.
Clear communication and feedback are essential to the success of your project and an important indicator that you are working with a professional exhibition stand builder. When a supplier is quiet, resistant to disclose timelines, and vague about deliverables, your red flags should wave high and you should exit the negotiation process and find another supplier.
Professional exhibition stand builders pre build and plan well before the exhibition
As the client, you are fully entitled to expect photos and updates about the progress of your project. If you ordered a custom stand, a prebuilt photo showing that your stand builder has applied their mind and planning in the workshop is essential. Before you sign the deal, you can insist on a date for pre-build as part of the planning phase. Stand builders who construct on site for the first time, are in danger of errors and running out of build time. The pre build exercise is not about a perfectly completed stand, it’s about the main structural elements working together properly.
There is a tricky tension between organizers and stand builders because the venue is charges the build up time for the event to the organizer. Consequently, organizers have to choose the most cost effective time frame for stand build. Additionally organisers need to reasonable about what they need to achieve in a short space of time. Three days is typically enough time. Time allocated for a build up is when you should be aware of the capacity of your stand builder. The only way to know this is through those probing questions.
Examples of good probing questions:
“How many stands are you planning to take on at the same time for this show?”
“How will you manage to prioritize my stand during the build up?”
The breakdown and the first few days after the event / exhibition are important feedback time. This is the time for you to communicate with your clients, and follow up on leads made during the event. It is also important to debrief and confirm your stand builder for the next show. Hopefully, this guideline will help you to choose the right professional team for your next event and you will be happy to work with them again.
A note about professionalism:
The events and exhibition industry in South Africa consist of several notable professional associations. Make sure your stand builder belongs to a professional association. Indeed, membership with a professional association demonstrates that the supplier has a level of professionalism and is willing to be held accountable for their work. Consequently this membership also provides you with recourse should you experience problems with your supplier not meeting their deliverables.
HOTT3D belongs to the Exhibitions and Events Association of South Africa (EXSA) and to OSPI – The global network of professional exhibition stand builders who use the Octanorm system to build modular stands.
See you out there on the expo floor welcoming your prospects and gleaming with pride because your brand is expertly represented through your exhibition stand.