Article written by Greg Johnson

For many small and medium sized exhibitors, traveling to distant trade shows to expand their reach seems like a cost-prohibitive idea. It’s definitely a big step and a serious investment, so it’s important that those companies get a considerable return on their investment. If you’re going to send a team to a distant show, you need to make a big impression. Shipping a large exhibit across the country, or internationally probably is cost-prohibitive for all but large companies. Thankfully, portable displays have come a long way, and using them no longer mean you’ll be putting up a second-rate booth. In fact, if you choose carefully, you can create a full-featured, premium quality exhibit using portable pieces.

Choose Carefully

There’s a huge difference in quality between different suppliers within the portable displays industry. There are a few things to watch out for shopping to find the right one for you. Be sure you’re getting units that are top quality, well designed for easy use and constructed to last, and be sure the printing is high quality. You want to see crisp images; clear, bold colors; and clean, hard lines. If you look at supplies from a manufacturer and the print quality is not top-shelf, shop on. Your visual branding is of critical importance and it needs to be as close to perfect as possible in your portable display. One last point to consider is how small the display units can be packed down, and how much they weigh. Displays that fit into a standard suitcase sized case are easier to transport on a passenger plane than larger displays, which may have to be shipped separately.

A Wealth of Options

Once you’ve chosen a vendor or supplier, you get to start imagining all the possibilities! If you haven’t looked into portable displays in a while, you’ll probably be surprised at the range of options out there. There are back walls and projection walls, towers, hanging structures, multimedia monitor mounts, and even conference rooms! You’re no longer committing to a scaled-down display when you decide to exhibit in distant locations. You can go full-scale if your team size supports it, or design something impressive with fewer pieces if you’re sending a small team. There are several forms of portable displays, but three of them, in particular, lend themselves well to air travel:

Banner Stands:

Banner stands are not just for individual use. If you choose stands that are designed for use as part of a system, you can assemble a beautiful back-wall in minutes, complete with lights. A well-designed system can be assembled by one person, and shouldn’t require tools. Many systems include a hard-side travel case option, which you can use for storage or as a table in your booth later. Ask about accessories like shelves, monitor mounts, workstations, and brochure holders; if you need those features, you want to make sure you’re buying into a system that supports them.

Inflatable Displays:

Premium inflatables offer a bigger range of modular units, and give you enough options to build a full-scale exhibit, complete with towers and hanging structures to give you maximum visibility and exposure. Most inflatable pieces can be set-up by one or two people in a short time, without professional assistance. An Inflatable display is the most compact to ship, with most pieces packing down into a small suitcase sized case.

Pop-Up Displays:

Pop-up displays offer a simple way to exhibit with a back wall display, and many offer the option of back-lighting, which makes your exhibit stand out dramatically. Depending on the frame style you choose, a pop-up can be assembled by one or two people; premium features include self-locking connectors. The top-of-the-line frame material is carbon fibre, which is extremely durable and lightweight, but it’s also fairly expensive. Fiberglass offers a good balance between cost and durability, and it’s still fairly lightweight. Aluminum frames are the least expensive to purchase, but they’re the least durable material, and they’re also heavier, so you may spend more to ship them from show to show.

Anyone who has traveled has probably run into unexpected challenges. Your suitcase shows up in Atlanta, when you’ve arrived in Houston, or your precious cargo was damaged with toothpaste smeared all over a weeks worth of clothes (true story). These travel hiccups have the potential to play out when you travel to distant trade shows. This is why it’s so important to work with a company that has a global presence, and can be there to assist you if you need help throughout your show.

About the Author:
Greg Johnson is the Managing Director at Skyline Exhibits Utah. He has 20 years of industry experience with more than 12 of that spent within the Skyline network.

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