You’re assessing your trade show schedule next year and looking at pictures of the current booth. It’s out of date, has more coffee stains than clean areas, and you’ve got the budget for an update. You’ve decided to browse the web for ideas and strike absolute gold. Used trade show booths from a web-based vendor that tout a savings of up to 80% off original cost. With that kind of cost reduction you can already visualize the parade your board of directors will organize and the celebratory champagne popping open as you start moving to the corner office.
As with any other proposition in life seeming just too good to be true, this is no exception. As is the case far too often there’s a caveat lying in the fine (and sometimes nonexistent) print. Hidden or deceptively concealed secondary costs, logistics issues, and quality issues are among the leading difficulties lying in wait for the uninitiated.
Once an online vendor’s used booth special is purchased, you’re off to the races and ready to go for your trade show, right? Not so fast. Here’s a quick idea of what needs to be accomplished before you’re ready to hit the show floor.
- You need graphics. What substrates and media were the booth designed to use? What are the sizes? Depending on the website selling the booth, they may offer to do all the graphics for a flat or low-cost fee. Refer to the “too good to be true” warning issued above.
- How many crates does it ship in, how much does it weigh, where are you going to store it, and how are you going to get it to advance warehouse/show site? The level of detailed information you’re going to get is questionable.
- The website told you it’s lightly used. You’ve been to trade shows and you know that could mean anything from being like brand new to barely recognizable as a trade show booth. Once received, if you have the space, you’re going to unpack everything yourself and inspect.
- You may try to put everything together too, but you don’t have intelligible setup drawings. Instead it looks like a supersized box of IKEA parts inhabit your warehouse.
Now you arrange for freight and pay for shipping the booth, hopefully the internet company’s warehouse isn’t located across the country. The crates come in, assuming it wasn’t just palletized, looking like they fought their way through a wood chipper. And there’s a larger load than you were expecting. Surprises are exciting!
Your bargain of a trade show booth is looking like it may not have been as much of a bargain as expected. Sure, it started off being 20% of the original cost, but when you factor in the shipping, and printing graphics – you add significant cost back in. You’re also assuming you have correct sizing and won’t need to refit or reprint for the bargain-bin graphics.
You’re having your team of three employees unpack everything because you want to see the booth assembled. Pieces everywhere, no set up instructions in sight and all you see are three supremely frustrated guys who don’t have any idea why piece A isn’t fitting to piece Z… oh and what are these 43 other extra pieces for?
You’re checking up on the three angry young men and realize the 43 extra pieces are all scratched and dinged up. You definitely cannot take these to a show, so what now? You call up your exhibit house and tell them you need to have them refurb/repair the booth. You pack it and ship it again. They receive it, unpack it, inspect it, quote your repairs, and it’s going to take them 30 hours. They have to replace a few pieces, you’re missing X hardware. Don’t forget about the laminate that’s peeling off the counters.
Repairs complete, your booth is looking smooth. You have it shipped back. Again.
Invoices come in, you account for the hours your guys spent racking their brains and hands, some of the graphic panels didn’t fit and those were replaced, but everything’s ready to go to the show. You add it up and realize the total came in 30% more than the quote you got for the new booth. You did check into a new build first, right?
Save your time, your team’s time, put down the antacids, and talk to your exhibit house. If they’re worth their weight they should be addressing your concerns, your budgets, your time lines, and guiding you in how to make the most effective use of your budget. After the show, make sure you’re setting up a meeting to debrief and analyze how everything performed and whether any changes should be made.
Cheaper to buy doesn’t always guarantee less expensive. Talk to your exhibit house and develop a plan before you dive into anything. If you don’t have one, contact Exhibit Systems to schedule a consultative meeting and we’ll walk you through the process.
Author: Kevin Ruiz, Account Executive