When should we start preparing the stand for the next trade fair? Most preferably... during the still ongoing edition. An experienced marketing specialist can accurately assess the functionality of the used solutions and the work aesthetics as well as spot all the shortcomings. Valuable remarks are also to be shared by the stand service, and especially its personnel who takes care of our clients' comfort. It is best to document all the observation with a camera. It is also useful to observe how our direct competitors as well as the setting trends leaders present.
The conclusions are to be jotted down immediately; they will come in useful during the meeting with the company who sets up the stand. Now we may "forget" about the next trade fair for a while.
It is also the last moment to decide which stands elements can be reused (e.g. advertising banners, counters, non-typical construction elements) and ask the contractor to store them, keeping in mind the next fair edition or a stand in other fair centre. Such an approach will allow us to lower the total fair participation costs and emphasis our attention to the environment.
The starting point for the talks with the contractor is the decision on fair participation. Sending the application documents sets in motion a big trade fair "machinery" whose culmination is the fair "seat" of our company. That's why it's not worth postponing the preparation of the stand project, as we gain not only the sense of security but also a possibility to get acquainted with various companies' offers, compare them thoroughly and choose the best solution. Like in case of choosing an advertising or PR agency, it is best to use a brief – either the own one or the one available on the website of some companies. Our brief should contain not only information on the size and type of the ordered space but also on the performance character resulting from the goals of our participation in the fair. A very good solution is to entrust the service of all trade fairs we participate in to the same company. Thanks to that we don’t have to prepare a new brief each time, conduct price negotiations, discuss all the details and functionalities of the stand. It is a huge saving of time that we can use for other tasks – inviting the customers to the fair, preparing events, preparing press and advertising materials or the exhibits. Our consultant – once they know our needs – will effectively prepare a project of the next stand, offer some modifications regarding e.g. various space size or fair character (nationwide, international, regional, single-trade, multiple-trade, related more to image or to sales, various visitors’ profiles). It is also saving of money, as the mechanism of a package-offer will work here. It is also a huge sense of safety and comfort. We can be sure that coming into the fairshow to any place in Poland and in the world we will find a perfectly prepared stand.
Stand project is a resultant of many factors – space size, fair character, budget we have and – what is most important – goals that we want to achieve during the fair. From the marketing research conducted by MTP (August and September 2011, on the sample of 134 exhibitors of the trade fair in Poznań in 2010-2011) results that the project is one of the main criterions of choice (apart from the price and work quality). And it’s not surprising – the stand is the most tangible proof of our participation in the fair. It should be not only nice but also functional and comfortable and most of all adjusted to our marketing strategy and business goals. Planning numerous meetings with key customers we have to arrange an intimate space to conduct talks with them. If the stand is not big and we expect a lot of guests, we may think of a counter where they can stop by for a moment. If we want to present the novelties it’s worth taking care of their proper display, illumination as well as an appropriate visitors' access. Small spaces can be enlarged by adding a mezzanine where we will invite the most important visitors. When we are intent on a limited access of our competitors to our projects, we can partially or fully close the stand for the outsiders. When the key issue for us is sales, an open stand with many counters-consulting points and easy access to advertising materials will prove useful. A small information stand doesn’t have to be boring if we add nice furniture and paper the walls with printouts presenting the company’s profile or paint the walls in company’s colours. A stand constructed on the basis of modular elements will look smartly, additionally we can add a variety with single non-standard details like a counter, footlights with banners seen from afar, spatial letters and the company’s logo on the walls, suspended, highlighted Perspex panels. We can interestingly arrange even the “difficult” space – e.g. under the mezzanine.
We could name countless examples, but what's important is that only professionally operating consultants who cooperate with experienced designers understanding our needs are able to translate them into the project which will best fulfil its task during the given trade fair.
During the trade fair you can watch spectacular stand constructions made of precious materials – glass, wood, metal, equipped with luxury furniture and the state-of-the-art devices. It’s usually the market leader who wants to present themselves like that. Other rules are obligatory for the international concerns performances. Their domestic representatives use very often the know-how of their head offices, adjusting the concept to the global strategy and corporate guidelines, and the ready stands elements travel from one fair event to the other. However, most of the trade fair participants have to take care of their stand by themselves with much more limited budget. In such a case we have to adopt an optimisation principle, i.e. we have to check what we can achieve within the frames of the given budget, or what project will guarantee achievement of the company's goals without having to reduce the work quality. A stand "acts" like any other product or service, where the price and quality build a linear relationship. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes different is better. But almost always much cheaper is worse. Individual projects can vary a lot as far as the price is concerned, depending on used materials, proposed architectural solutions and "concentration" of elements on the stand surface. However, comparing the prices of various – but similar – projects, some deviation of several percent in one or the other side are acceptable, but grossly low price means only one thing. The work quality can surprise us unpleasantly. Carelessly assembled walls, unsecured electrical wires, printouts of low quality, wasted furniture – it is a nightmare we don't want to face, especially when there is no time for amendments. Such problems rarely occur by huge projects, where the performance details are established weeks before the fair, and several people are responsible for the preparation. It happens much more often in case of smaller companies who cannot devote that much time to prepare the stand, because their employees are engaged in the current activity of the company – it's impossible to transfer them for two weeks to take care personally of everything. The best way is to come when everything's ready, just a day or two before the fair starts, and just button everything up. If we have serious reservations about the contractor let's not hesitate and give up working with them, even if they assure that this was the last time. It is better to entrust our stand to professionals. And when we can count on the instant technical help in case of unexpected events or order additional equipment within 15 minutes, even if we have ordered the smallest stand – now that's what we can call a perfect situation.
There are some additional services that we should remember of (or at least try not to forget) independently on the stand construction itself. We can order them by ourselves or transfer them to the stand construction contractor. The prices of these services – often not mentioned in the contractors' offers – should be included in the participation costs in all trade fairs, independently on who and where constructs the stand.
Such costs are related to order of an electrical connection or water supply, compressed air, if needed. Also the fees for refuse disposal are obligatory.
The stand construction contractor can also commission completing of all formalities related to the technical provisions obligatory on the given premises, the fair centres in Poland and abroad include them in their regulations, the compliance with which is necessary due to the safety of the fair participants. It is worth using this option especially during the performance in the fair abroad.