How to find and choose the best trade show exhibit company
Choosing the right trade show exhibit company to design your display can make or break your event marketing success. After all, your trade show booth is often a potential lead’s first touchpoint with your brand.
84% of event attendees claim to have a more positive opinion about a company, brand, product, or service after attending a trade show where it was promoted. The right trade show exhibit manufacturer can help ensure that your prospects’ experience with your brand is a positive one.
You also have to consider the expense. A poorly designed trade show display that fails to showcase your products or capture your brand’s essence can be a costly mistake.
On the other hand, an eye-catching display laid with a strategic foundation can serve your company for years to come, helping you strike up a conversation, gather leads, and surpass your event marketing goals.
Read on to discover how to find potential trade show exhibit design companies, how to narrow down your options, and how to choose the right team to bring your design to life.
How to find potential trade show exhibit design companies
Here are a few tips for finding quality booth design agencies that might fit the bill:
Perform a quick google search
Perhaps the most obvious method for finding a potential trade show booth design company–and yet a useful one nonetheless–is to do a quick google search. Enter search terms like “trade show exhibit design company” and “trade show booth manufacturer” to see what comes up.
If it’s important that your design team is close by, try tacking your city name onto the end of your search. For example, if you work in Georgia’s capital city, google “trade show exhibit company Atlanta” to see which companies Google deems most relevant to you.
If you scroll down past the paid ads and organic results (not paid ads), Google may also show you nearby companies on a map so you can see exactly where they’re located.
It’ll look something like this:
For each company, you’ll see a clickable star rating–click it to read reviews–a phone number, open hours, and links to both driving directions and the agency’s website. Because these companies are close by and their reviews are so easy to access, these results are a great place to begin your search.
Attend trade shows and observe exhibits firsthand
Attending trade shows and in-person events is a fantastic means of discovering high-quality trade show exhibit designers. Walk around and observe the different booths, searching for strategically designed displays that capture your attention and showcase the company’s products and services.
When you find that special booth, ask the exhibitor for the name of their booth designer/manufacturer. They’ll be flattered that you love their display, and you’ll have a name to add to your list of potential agencies.
As you walk around and make your observations, pay attention to both design and function. Ask yourself:
Does it use visually pleasing and sturdy materials?
How well does it tell the brand story?
How well does it showcase the company’s products or services?
Do the colors work well together?
How well does it incorporate graphics and signage?
Does it seem to be drawing a large audience?
It’s also a good idea to request referrals from established associations in your industry or from colleagues and other experienced event marketers. Well-known bloggers, associations, and trade publications won’t want to tarnish their good name by offering subpar recommendations, so they’re often considered trusted sources of information. (Do be aware of bloggers and other groups who may act as affiliates for certain companies, however.)
You can also benefit from asking a trusted colleague or friend for a recommendation. These people have been where you are and they can answer any questions you have about a company they’ve directly worked with in the past.
Be sure to ask questions like:
Did the agency stick to their promised timeline?
Did they deliver on or under budget?
Did any issues arise during the design or production process? If so, how did they handle those issues?
Were you satisfied with the level and frequency of communication?
Were you satisfied with the overall results?
How to narrow down your options
Before you start narrowing down your options, it’s important that you take the following steps:
Consider your trade show goals
First, outline exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish with this custom trade show booth display. What are your goals for the exhibit? What are you hoping to get out of your trade show appearance?
Some examples of common event marketing goals include:
Increasing brand awareness
Introducing or demoing a new product or service
Generating new leads
Booking appointments with current and prospective customers
Networking and learning about new industry trends
You can discuss these goals during your initial meeting with a potential exhibit house. The agency can then deliver a proposal full of ideas to help you meet your goals via strategic booth design, and you can evaluate which proposal best matches your vision.
Peruse website portfolios and case studies
A great way to ensure a trade show exhibit design firm is capable of delivering the level of quality you’re seeking is to check out their online portfolios and case studies. Most reputable exhibit companies are proud of the work they’ve done and they highlight it on their website for potential clients to view.
Their online portfolio may include photos of booths they’ve created, brief descriptions of the work completed, and possibly even explanations of the thought process behind the structure and design.
Make sure the quality is up to par by asking yourself questions like:
Do they appear to use sturdy, quality materials that look great and will likely hold up well over time?
Does each booth match the industry and trade show it was designed for?
Do they use colors and graphics that clearly depict the company and its brand aesthetic?
Does each display include elements that likely helped the company meet its trade show goals?
Would I be satisfied if our display was of equal quality?
Verified reviews can be a vital means of narrowing down prospective design agencies, as they provide real insight into the actual customer experience. Note the company’s star rating and read through some of their reviews on sites like Google and Facebook.
How to choose the best trade show exhibit design company
Once you’ve established which companies are your top 2-3 contenders, reach out to them and ask for answers to the following questions.
How much experience do you have?
It’s important to make sure the design agency you choose has some experience designing booths similar to the one you’re envisioning. Like with every industry, there’s a learning curve, and it can take some time to figure out how to effectively turn an initial concept into a full-scale exhibit.
So be sure to ask questions like:
How long have you been in business?
How many booths have you created?
What types of clients do you have?
Do you have any repeat clients?
Which industries have you served?
What credentials does your team have?
A custom trade show exhibit is a significant investment of your time and money, and it’s important that you trust your chosen design company to develop your vision. Ask your final contenders who will be working on your display. We’re talking names, titles, credentials, and industry experience.
Does the company do all the designing and manufacturing in house? Do they subcontract any of the work? Finally, do they back their work with any sort of warranty or guarantee?
Some companies include an “About” page on their website that provides insight into their team. For example, our “About” page at BTWN Exhibits lists the 9 key members of our leadership team, from project managers and coordinators to designers. For each team member, you’ll see a name, title, photo, and brief description of roles and responsibilities.
What services do you offer?
Some display builders will take your exact specifications and bring it to life. Others will work with you to create a concept from scratch–and then bring it to fruition.
Before you choose your custom exhibit company, it’s important that you know exactly what services are included.
Ask questions like:
Will you transport the display to and from the show?
Will you stay with us during the show to assist if any issues arise with the booth?
Will you store the display for us between shows?
Will you help us modify the booth if we decide to give it a fresh look or touch-up in the future?
What’s your creative process like?
The agency you choose to work with should have enough experience to know what works and what doesn’t. They should understand the simplest path to transform your concept into a fully designed booth and they should know exactly what questions to ask to get down to the core of your trade show booth needs.
Ask them about their creative process and the steps they plan to take. Make sure you know exactly what they’ll need from you in order to create a booth that matches your brand and vision.
How long do you think our booth will take to create?
Even the very best design agency may not be the optimal choice if its designers and production team can’t commit to finishing your exhibit by your deadline. Once you’ve discussed your initial concept, ask how long they expect to spend on the design and production. Then ask yourself if this time frame fits with your anticipated timeline and expectations.
Remember that a quality booth can’t be created overnight. While a custom booth may require a significant time investment up front, it can serve your needs for years to come.
What should we expect in terms of cost?
From exhibit materials (panels, fabric, flooring, lighting, graphics, etc.) to transportation and storage, there are plenty of expenses that make up your trade show booth cost.
Once you’ve narrowed down your agency options, you can request a proposal from the 2-3 remaining companies to see how well their estimated costs factor into your budget.
Don’t base your final selection solely on who projects the lowest cost, however. While price is certainly a major factor, it’s important that you take all key factors into equal consideration. Cutting corners with cheap materials, poorly designed graphics, or faulty wiring could result in substantial maintenance fees down the line. And a low-quality exhibit that doesn’t appeal to your target audience could be a costly mistake.
Pro tip: pay attention to how they communicate
Most companies will list their phone number and email address on the “Contact” page of their website. This page may also feature a contact form you can fill out to submit your initial inquiry.
Once you reach out to a company, pay close attention to their response.
How quickly do they get back to you?
Do they seem honest and transparent?
Do they provide you with possible next steps?
This initial communication can tell you a lot about what to expect from them throughout each individual stage of your project.
Also pay attention to how they make you feel.
Do you feel that they will value your business?
Do you feel confident they have the passion, knowledge, and skill required to bring your vision to life?
Ready to create your next global brand experience?
Reach out, we’d love to help get your first exhibit underway.