Creating and organising an exhibition stand can be a difficult task. Unless you have copious experience in the exhibition industry there can be so many factors that lead to a successful exhibition stand. Below we have detailed the things that you need to prepare for an exhibition stand if you were going to organise everything yourself. This page is the first of three, click on the buttons below to follow along to the next page.
Click on the sections below to see the specific detail you need to know. Click the button at the bottom of the page to move to the next page.
If you are planning an exhibition stand and think doing it yourself will save money, this page and the following 3 pages are for you! We have outlined the factors you have to consider and complete when organising an exhibition stand. This list is not exhaustive, there may be other factors that are individual to your stand, however the point of this check list is to demonstrate how cumbersome the process can be, especially if you are not experienced with the practical knowledge of the exhibition industry.
This seems fairly simple, but we know exhibitors who get this part wrong. Will your target audience be at the show? If not, then why are you attending? Hoping that people might buy from you will not bring you leads at the show and can put you off exhibiting in the future. If you know your target audience will be attending the show, then you are on the right track.
Want to display lots of products and really show off your stock? You need a big space to do this. We have a client who displays over 4000 SKU items! To facilitate this they need adequate floor space and a well designed modular stand. The organiser will detail the different floor sizes and the costs associated with the floor options. Choose a floor space that you think will support your stand needs. If you have doubts over what you need at this stage, you should get assistance from a stand builder.
Once you have purchased your floor space the exhibition organiser will send you an exhibitor manual which will document all the necessary information related to your attendance. This manual will outline the who the main exhibition supplier is, the exhibition floor plan and any marketing efforts that the organiser will be engaging in. It will highlight any services that are available and the timeline for when you must take action. Your exhibitor manual will be your go-to for all the information related to exhibiting.
This is an important decision that will affect your budget. There are many different options when it comes to preparing an exhibition stand. If you want a customised option, which would highlight your brand and help you stand out, you could hire or buy a stand. There are benefits to both, but if you are planning on exhibiting again and want to use the stand again then you are better off buying the stand. Things like storage and logistics of the stand can be maintained by a reputable stand builder. This saves you money the next time you use that stand. If you hire the stand, then you need to be prepared to pay the cost of having the stand prepared for you again. Often companies take the cheaper option because exhibiting is expensive. What they fail to consider is that it is more cost effective to purchase an exhibition stand and re-use it for several years. We are happy to explain and discuss these differences if you have further questions.
Before you can design the stand, you need to consider what supplies you need on the stand to help you work most efficiently. Will you be selling items on the stand? If yes you need to organise POS systems. If you are exhibiting to create awareness about your services will you need a meeting room, furniture or will you be displaying brochures? Think about whether you need to have pens, paper or business cards. Will you need a laptop or iPad to help capture leads? All these items that you require will impact on the design and power requirements, so preparing for the functional aspects improves the design process.
Power is an important requirement for exhibition stands. Think about how often you use items that require power in your day-to-day job, this will be amplified on the exhibition stand. From the supply list you’ve just written, how many of those items will require power, and what volume of power will they need? Once you have established how much power you will need you will need to contact the exhibition supplier and organise for power to be supplied to your stand. Power is not automatically provided on the stand and needs to be organised and paid for in advance. Often, the date that power needs to be organised is months in advance from the show date. There are significant penalties if you fail to organise the power for your stand prior to the date set by the exhibition supplier.
At this stage, you are ready to think about the design of your exhibition stand. If you were only going to exhibit using a shell-scheme stand that the exhibition supplier is selling, then you wouldn’t complete the Functional Design Checklist as you don’t have the option to create an exhibition stand. You can complete the Functional Design Checklist for any custom stand, whether you are buying the stand or hiring it. If you, like most exhibitors have not completed an Industrial Design degree, you should organise for an exhibition stand designer to help you complete the stand design. Review the Functional Design Checklist and consider providing a brief to an exhibition designer to complete for you. We recommend this because the process of designing an exhibition stand is incredibly difficult, as you will see on the next page.
Complete the Functional Design Checklist here.
Now that you have completed the Functional Design Checklist you will need to find a reputable stand builder to build your stand. Like most things, you can of course attempt to build a stand yourself. That is not advisable. Manufacturing an exhibition stand is an incredibly detailed process. Designing a stand from an aesthetic perspective is one thing, but choosing appropriate materials, identifying structural integrity and correct building processes is another. It's important that the stand is built well, and is structurally sound so that there is no risk of the stand falling over during the show and injuring other people. You also want to ensure that your stand won't disintegrate during the show, this looks unprofessional. In the consumers eye, if your stand has structural issues during the show, this reflects what the quality of your brand must be like. This ensures that customers will not approach your stand or buy from you.
At this stage you should have an exhibition stand designed and built. Now you need to decide on the most appropriate and cost-effective way of transporting your exhibition stand. Will you be able to load the stand into the truck? Or will you need the truck to have loading capacities? You will need to coordinate the transport of the stand with the bump-in times of the exhibition. An important consideration here is long the lines that are often on the loading docks at exhibitions. If you engage a transport company to transport your stand allow for them to spend hours waiting to unload your stand and prepare yourself for the $120 an hour that the transport companies often charge, even while they are waiting in line at the loading dock. Depending on the show you are attending some transport companies will not deliver to the exhibition building. To keep these costs as low as possible you really need to stringently coordinate the transport, a forklift and labour hire well to ensure that the timing runs smoothly and one thing doesn’t cause a huge delay on the others.
Once you have organised the transportation of the stand, you will need to organise a forklift to move the stand from the loading dock to your allocated floor space. Most exhibition organisers, venues or suppliers will ensure that there is a forklift for the exhibitors to help with the unloading. However, this forklift is often in high demand and often leads to a longer wait time for you truck to be unloaded. Also, be aware of the forklift costs, most suppliers allow hire of the forklift on site for a cost of $30-$80 for 15 minutes. The timing of having your stand lifted off the truck and taken to your floor space needs to fit in well with when you have people on the stand who are helping to build the stand.
The size and complexity of the stand will dictate how many labourers you will need to help you install the stand. It is recommended that you have a solid understanding of the construction plans for the stand to complete the build and be able to direct the labourers. You will need to think about how long the build will take, as the labourers will have set times that you can hire them for. There are minimum charges, and once the allotted time you have paid for is up, labourers must leave the build, even if your stand is only half built. You also want to allow some extra time when hiring labourers in case something goes wrong with the build. While you may have taken careful measurements, things do often go wrong. When you engage a stand builder, they fix these issues and you never know. They could be little issues, such as having the wrong tools to complete the build, or big issues, say the exhibitors next to you have damaged your stand. Often, companies who organise the installation of the stand themselves against the advice of exhibition companies call when there is a problem the person installing the stand isn't sure how to fix the issue. The whole thing turns into a disaster! There's one simple way to avoid this, have the stand built and installed by a professional who understands how to fix any issue that may arise during the install.
If you are organising the stand yourself, you will also need to organise how the stand will be packed down. This is organising all the same things that you needed to organise for the stand to be installed. For the pack down, you will need labour hire. You will need a good understanding of what needs to be packed down in what order and you will need to organise transport and logistics to get the stand out of the exhibition venue and sent back to wherever it needs to go. You will need to have access to the forklift and the transport truck again and will be under tight deadlines.
If you rent a stand, a reputable stand builder will do most of the above for you, and they’ll want the stand returned to them. They will organise for all the transportation, installation and removal of the stand. If you build your own stand and you choose to organise all the above yourself, you will also need to organise storage for the stand. If you purchase the stand from a reputable stand builder, they will provide pallets for storage of the stand and often will provide you with a storage solution. If you want to organise the stand yourself, you will need to organise how you will get the stand off the truck at your warehouse. If you have a forklift handy then you will be able to unload the truck easily. If you don’t have a forklift easily available, then you will need to rent one and have it ready to be able to unload the truck. This is assuming someone in your organisation has a forklift licence. If you have space at in your business to store the stand then you only need to worry about the logistics. If you only work in an office, you will need to rent off-site storage for your exhibition stand. The cost of this can be quite high, especially if your stand takes up a lot of room.
This list is not exhaustive, there may be other factors that are individual to your stand, however the point of this check list is to demonstrate how cumbersome the process can be if you are not experienced with the practical knowledge of the exhibition industry. It may seem like an easy thing to save money and organise things yourself. It is easier to ask an exhibition stand builder to see where they could help you save some money.
To read about the next step in the exhibition stand process click below