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April 7, 2008
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STAND DESIGN 2: Costs and measurement




Carefully considering the design of your exhibition stand can have a major effect on your presence at an event, but how much can you expect to pay for your exhibition stand, and how is design built into this?

“Your stand can cost anything from £600 for a small pop-up design right through to £50,000 plus for a large custom-built affair,” says Amanda Simpson, marketing and communications manager at Warwick Conferences. “The costs really vary greatly according to requirements, complexity of design, materials used, height of the stand, furniture, etc.”

So clearly it’s simply down to what budget you have allocated to your exhibition presence and making sure that when evaluating stand costs, you include an element for design. It can pay to use a company that not only specialises in stand build, but also has design expertise in house, as this will probably be cheaper than sourcing build and design separately. It also ensures that the design will be practical. However, when dealing with companies that claim they can cover both areas, make sure they ask about your objectives, carefully go through the brief and get to grips with your visions, values and branding, so that the design is appropriate. And always ask to see examples of their work and any testimonials related to stand design.

Cost factors
The value of your budget should depend on you’re overall marketing spend and how important exhibiting is in your general marketing strategy. It should also take into account the level of competition you will encounter at each trade show you exhibit at. Tailoring your stand to suit where and how frequently you plan to exhibit can also help make your budget go further, and this is where experienced stand designers can play a key role.

“To reach the objectives set by the client is paramount and, as long as the spend can be justified by the ROI, then the investment is only dependant upon what budget has been allocated, and by using a reputable company you will get what you pay for,” says Carl Criscione, sales and marketing manager at Equinox Design. “Obviously, a simple shell scheme modular stand will cost less than a bespoke version. However, if there is a schedule of shows, which can be planned over a period, we use something we call custom modular. This allows a custom build to be created that can be adapted and modified to suit a variety of stand sizes and shapes, maximising the effect of the budget and delivering a custom feel to a number of shows.”

Measuring effectiveness
Of course, it’s one thing explaining why carefully considering the design of your stand should improve the effectiveness of your exhibition presence, but how can you actually measure it? According to Simpson, “as a rule of thumb, you should expect to generate sales from show leads worth around three to four times the cost of exhibiting”. And simply success at a show is an indication that the design of your stand is working.

However, to get more of a handle on how big a part design is playing, the best approach is to compare the performance to previous years when you may not have thought about design as much or not have used design professionals. Alternatively, compare the footfall on your stand to competitors’ stands at the same event, which may not be as well designed. More scientifically, you could actually ask visitors to your stand exactly what attracted them.

“Train stand staff to ask for feedback form visitors and record it,” says Rory Sloan, head of production at experiential agency RPM. “Ask your stand staff to evaluate it, too. If they're at the show and living on the stand for three days plus, they’ll be a pretty good barometer for how the design has worked.”

Finally, think about your trade or consumer show strategy. Are you exhibiting at too many shows? After all, it’s best to invest heavily in your presence at a few key shows, rather than spreading your budget too widely and diluting the impact over too many.

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STAND DESIGN 1: Is it really worth the money?


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