Promotional products aimed at attendees and apparel designed for exhibitors are not the only areas where distributors can fulfill show-related business. “We help our clients with their banners, flags and tablecloths too,” says Linda Stephens, a brand specialist for Halo Branded Solutions (asi/356000). “Our message is that they need to exhibit in a classy and consistent way, so let us handle all the elements to ensure they complement one another throughout the booth. This is a solid source of revenue that not enough distributors tap into.”
Bruce Kolbrener, executive VP of sales for Quinn Flags (asi/80228) in Hanover, PA, notes his firm is doing well lately with stick flags and teardrop banners. The company is moving toward polyblend stretch-fabric banner material that’s more lightweight and portable than hard substrates. “The stretch material always looks sharp and clean, and it accepts full-color printing and even photography,” Kolbrener says. “It also lowers drayage and shipping costs or packs easily into a car for the regional road-show circuit.”
Stephens is also moving a good amount of dye-sublimated stretch fabrics – not just as signage but also as flexible décor over the hard parts of a booth structure. Even so, she says, “we still do a lot of traditional throw-style tablecloths that aren’t stretchy because exhibitors need to maximize space in the booth, and that means covering up boxes that are stored under tables.”
Nancy Gudekunst of MARCO Ideas Unlimited has been able to upsell clients on better table coverings recently. “Generally we don’t sell them the most expensive or least expensive options, just the most durable one they’ll need,” she says. “But those things do take a beating over time, so I tell them that for a bit more money they’ll get not just better quality, but also a longer warranty.”
Interestingly, there’s even opportunity for distributors to supply exhibitor clients with an entire booth structure. Natalie Whited, vice president of marketing for Orbus Exhibit & Display Group (asi/75209) in Woodridge, IL, is seeing increased sales of custom modular packages where parts can be added, subtracted and reconfigured for each show. “They’re perfect for an exhibitor who has a varied trade show schedule with multiple booth sizes,” Whited says, adding that they can be reconfigured from larger sizes (such as a 10’ x 20’ exhibit) to smaller (10’ x 10’), “extending the value and versatility of the exhibit.” Whited says that Orbus’ products – which also include fabric banners, brick walls and hanging structures – are certified to the highest quality standards for manufacturing, graphic production and environmental management. No tools are necessary, and there’s a lifetime warranty on the parts.
That last part is important to Gudekunst. When selling a complete booth hardware kit to clients, she recommends manufacturers “who will work with you on replacing broken parts, especially with things like retractors.”
If you’re working with a client on a booth, the job cannot be taken lightly because of its importance. “The appearance and quality of a trade show booth says a lot about the exhibiting company’s products and brand, so the structure, the graphics and the booth staff have to look good to build credibility,” says Whited. “In the face-to-face arena, customers are basically interviewing the exhibiting companies and they should strive to look their best!”