Thursday, July 16, 2009

TS2 next week

TS2 starts next week (July 21 - 22) in Chicago. Being an ExpoDisplays representative, they are showing a brand new configuration of a new display system - MultiQuadMAX:

This is the new MultiQuad system configured for an island booth space. You have the look of a custom exhibit but the versatility of a modular system.

Check out TS2!!!

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits in San Jose, CA)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pokerpalooza and World of Series of Poker.

Pokerpalooza and the World Series of Poker Main Event are starting tomorrow (Thur 7/2) at The Rio in Las Vegas. The Works Displays & Exhibits just completed a new display for the WSOPA (World Series of Poker Academy) and it looks great. Stop by, check out the display and play a few hands at their poker table!

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits in San Jose, CA)

Friday, June 12, 2009

New trade show display!!!

We are offering some exciting new exhibit in the trade show industry! It is called MultiQuad and it bridges the gap between modular and custom exhibits:

This entire display breaks down into just two cases! it is a set of aluminum frames with panels that attach to give the reveal look. The panels can be graphics, laminate, wood grains or insert a monitor or display cubes:

The other aspect is that the show costs for shipping and setting up are a lot less than a custom display!!! Initially, this has been getting an outstanding response from the market. Contact for your design and quote on this new display concept.

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits in San Jose, CA)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The state of exhibiting in today's economy

In discussing with colleagues on what is going on in the trade show industry these days, I have discovered some very interesting and surprising information:

First of all, obviously, companies are pulling out from exhibiting at trade shows these days. Knowing the payoffs that companies make from a successful trade show program, I think that it is a big mistake on their part. Too many times, companies only look at the outgoing costs and really do not consider the Return On Investment (ROI). Trade shows STILL are the best marketing tool that your company can do!!!

The next thing that we are seeing is that companies are scaling back on the size and complexity of their exhibit. This is fine since being in the industry, there really are a lot of exorbitant costs that companies are looking to cut or reduce. You can still have a nice looking display and present you product or service in a lower cost display. Everyone from exhibitors to attendees would expect that in today's business climate.

The big misnomer out there is that you read that attendance at trade shows is down 20% - 30%. Here's the big misunderstanding - while that number is correct, ROI is actually up!!! More business is being signed at trade shows in the past year!!! Here's why:

In the past, companies would send sales people, office staff, etc to the shows. On the show floor, those working the booth are meeting a lot of people but most of them are just 'kicking tires'. That takes up a lot of time for the booth staff, makes them unnecessarily busy and, therefore, business is not getting signed because they are too busy with everyone else and not getting to have a one-on-one with the decision makers.

Now, where attendance is down, companies are now only sending the CEO's of decision makers. There are less 'tire kickers' which frees up the booth staff so they are able to have more important meetings that are resulting in signed orders.

So, where overall traffic is down, it is good to see that business is still being signed.

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits in San Jose, CA)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rental trade show displays

In the trade show industry, we see trends come and go based on new products or materials or the sign of the times. During these times, we are seeing more companies go with rentals. This can be explained by uncertain circumstances in the economy or with the companies themselves.

Like everything else, there are pluses and minuses for using rentals. My recommendations on when to use a rental are based on:
  1. How many shows a year are you doing? If you are doing one show a year, it may benefit your budget. It will cost less per year and you don't pay for storage.
  2. Cost. If you are doing more than 2 - 3 shows a year, it may be best to purchase. While renting is less on a one time usage, it is only about 1/2 to 2/3 of the cost of a purchase. So, if you do a few shows a year, you would pay for the display in a few shows.
  3. Look of your display. On a rental, we use exhibits that can be used again and again. If you need a customized look, you may be limited on what is available. We can customize most rentals to fit your needs and message, but you may have to give a little on your design options.
The types of displays are the same as purchasing. You can rent pop up displays, modular exhibits and full custom displays. You can even rent double deck structures and hanging banners. These displays would need some surfaces to be refinished and new graphics to be added.

So, while things are still up in the air, trade show exhibit rentals may be your best bet.

Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits which offers all types of exhibits from rentals to pop up displays to full turnkey custom exhibits,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Green Products - Trade Show Flooring

The trade show industry, like most other industries, is doing what we can to offer trade show products that are more friendly to the environment. I will try to explore the variety in different categories. For this post, I will discuss trade show flooring. There is a nice variety of different flooring that is 'sustainable' flooring.

A product is considered sustainable if it is long-lasting, reusable or has a minimal long-term effect on the environment. Sustainable flooring is out of materials that are renewable, natural resources such as wood, bamboo or cork. The resources need to have been grown and harvested in a way that does not deplete or irreversibly damage the environment. They can be made from recycled or reclaimed materials, are designed to have a long life cycle so it does not need to be replaced as often, are manufactured with as little impact on environment as possible. They are made without toxic coatings or chemicals, installed without the use of toxic products or biodegradable.

The different types of 'green' flooring are:
  • Carpeting - Starts from corn that is converted to glucose sugar. This sugar is then converted to monomers and then to polymers. The carpet fibers are then made from these polymers!
  • Wood - This particular wood flooring is from sustainable green groves and is recyclable.
  • Cork - Cork flooring is a completely renewable source made form wine cork waste or the renewable bark from cork oak trees. It is 100% biodegradable. It is made in an environmentally friendly manufacturing process. Cork is naturally rot-, mildew-, and fire-resistant so no chemical treatment is necessary.
  • Recycled Rubber Flooring - Made from recycled tires, needs no toxic adhesives for installation, is durable and reusable.
  • Carpet Padding - Even carpet padding can be made from recycled products.

These products may cost a little more than the regular products but the more that we use green products, the sooner the prices will come down.

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits which offers a wide variety of environmentally-friendly displays and accessories.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Exhibitor Show 2009

The annual Exhibitor Show is coming up next week. The Conference is March 22-26, 2009 and the Exhibition is March 23-25, 2009 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. It is nice show for both exhibit managers and industry people.

For exhibit managers, they have numerous classes to get certified, to learn more about each step involved in the trade show process and a number of exhibit companies in the exhibit hall.

For industry people, it gives us a great opportunity to network and see new and improved products.

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits in San Jose, CA and has 20 yrs experience in the trade show and marketing industries.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to work a trade show.

While walking many trade shows in my years, I like to observe how people work in their trade show display, how they present to attendees and some of the items that I see that amaze me.

One thing to remember is that if you are in a 10' display, you generally have 10 seconds to get that person's attention - that's the time it takes to walk from one end of your display to the other end. Not much time, so you need to do the right things to get them to stop!

First, you need to have the right people in there! That may not necessarily your best sales person; they could be back office personnel or some of the booth models for hire. You want people that have the best personality in there. It is a quick impression moment. You can have your best sales person contact them from the show lead. A quick one liner, a little quip, a joke; anything to get them to stop and listen to what you have to say!

Personal presentation is huge! In the past, it used to be the norm to have your personnel wear a suit and tie. Nowadays, most wear nice slacks and embroidered shirts that look very professional and it relays your company's personality. If in your normal day, you wear your shirts hanging out and your pants low, you need to be professional and tuck in the shirt and pull the pants up!

If you have enough employees to cover the show, you should work in shifts so you don't get tired or are not outgoing in your presentation. If you are the only one, only sit in a chair or stool when tired. You should stand as much as possible. Sitting shows that you just aren't interested.

The one thing that I see that irritates me more than anything is when I see people eating in their display!!! If you have more than one, go to the Exhibitor Lounge to take a break. If you must eat or bring a beverage into your exhibit, hide it behind the display or under a counter. You paid a lot of money to be at your show. Don't make look horrible with food and water bottles strewn all around.

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits in San Jose, CA and has 20 yrs of experience in the trade show, marketing and sales industries.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pop up displays

Many companies use pop up displays when they venture in to the trade show arena. They are great for beginning exhibitors since [most of them] are very easy to set up, they are compact and pack into one case and can ship UPS, FedEx or in your car.

Many large companies also have a few pop up displays on hand because of their minimal costs for showing as opposed to their large custom displays that require van line shipping, drayage and labor to set it up.

These are great for relaying your companies message in a dynamic way and, for the most part, the graphics that you decide on will make or break your presentation.

The drawback to the standard pop up displays are their limitations to the available extra items and additions that you can include with your display.

In the past few years, there have been a lot of exciting new variations on the standard pop up exhibit. You can change the shape of the pop up frame that curves from top to bottom. You can have individual graphics in each panel. You can go withe fabric for your backwall panels that is permanently attached to the frame:

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits in San Jose, CA and has 20 years experience in the trade show and marketing industries.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How to pick a trade show display company

Being in the trade show industry for over 20 years, the biggest decision that I hear that trade show coordinators or Mar Comm managers have to make is which trade show company to use. There are a lot of individual components to consider in making your decision on what to do for your trade show display and who to use.

Questions such as what will be the extent of your company's trade show program? How many trade shows do you plan on exhibiting at per year? What is the size of your booth space? What type of exhibit to use? If you are a start-up company, you may need to start out in a small 10' x 10' space and work up to a larger size as your business. How much 'hand holding' will you need? Besides the exhibit itself, what other services do you require? These and others.

Trade show companies come in all sorts of sizes and services.

You can buy very cheap, inexpensive pop up display or panel displays online for less then $1,000!!! These trade show displays, for the most part, are made in China. I really cannot recommend these type of displays!!! They will last you about 1 - 3 shows and the fabric will start pealing away from the panels or components may start breaking. It's the old 'you get what you pay for' scenario. Since these companies sell online, there is very little customer support after the purchase and very few options for your display. You get a down and dirty display and it serves it's purpose. These companies rely on volume from online sales.

On the other side of the spectrum are the very large custom exhibit display houses. Everything is inclusive - sales, design, construction, storage and customer service. Because it takes a lot of people to handle these items, the overhead is large and therefore you pay for that.

With the current status of our economy, companies are looking to doing it for less. In the middle of the online companies and the large custom houses are the smaller to mid-size companies that can provide pop up displays or modular exhibits and full custom displays with all the graphics and services needed to support them.

You may feel that you need the comfort of the big company and if you have the money to pay for it, then great, but if you do your homework and work closely with your representative, you can develop a nice program that will not break your budget.

Some suggestions to keep in mind in choosing a company are:
  1. Information - The more information that you give a trade show company, the better that they can produce a program that best fits your needs. Included in that, providing a budget is very important! This tells us what we can or cannot do to come in at or under budget. Other information such as your message, elements in the display, what is the competition doing, what additional services are needed, etc help design your display and program.
  2. Service - This is probably more important than the display itself. Regardless of if you are a veteran trade show coordinator or brand new, your trade show company can assist from arranging shipping, making arrangements for the show, show site supervision, etc. What is the level of service that you need and they can provide?
  3. Referrals - I am surprised that more companies do not ask for a list of references!!! You want to talk to those companies! It's like someone applying for a job at your company. Even if you are getting only the 'good' references, you should be able to distinguish a good company from a bad one.

To summarize, you need to do your homework. In this tough economy, you need to count every penny and need to make sure that your trade show company is working for you.

Your trade show company is an extension of your company! They need to be on the same page as you are with the same direction and understanding of your long term goals. They need to understand your budget constraints, what the goals are for each show, your message that you want to present and they need to be easy to work with.

With a little homework, you will have a successful exhibit and program that will service your needs and grow along with you.

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits in San Jose, CA and has 20 yrs experience in the trade show and marketing industries.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Marketing and trade show displays

With all the news on job losses, what about those companies that are still doing OK? You still have a business to run, you still need to market your products and services and you still need to make sales.

The quick knee-jerk response that I see these days is to cut back, cut back, cut back and we can't do this or we can't spend on this. This is a BIG mistake!!!

Take the recent decision by Apple to stop exhibiting at Macworld. Their reason that they said was that since they get enough customers coming in to their stores, they now do not see the need to exhibit at Macworld anymore. With Apple being as large as they are, I would have expected that SOMEONE in there might have said "Ummm, but why are they coming to the stores in the first place?" Because all the new products that they introduce at the show get so much news coverage and web coverage that it starts a huge buzz that generates interest that gets them coming to the stores!!!!

Trade shows are your BEST marketing investments whether as a buyer or as an exhibitor. There is no better way to see and talk to potential customers or to introduce your new product or service where you get the most bang for your buck!

The biggest problem that a lot of companies have, especially start-ups, is that they do not have a clear, drawn out plan on what their end result is for attending a trade show. Why are they there? It costs a lot to exhibit at a trade show, HOWEVER, if you train your booth staff, have clear goals to attain at the show, pre-show buzz, smart trade show exhibit design, you will see a nice payoff.

Being in the trade show industry for over 20 years, you can quickly assess those companies that are on the ball and those that won't be around for very long.

I hope to use this space to offer some [hopefully] helpful info, advise, suggestions that make sense in this fragile yet opportunistic times.

(Craig Mlasko is the owner of The Works Displays & Exhibits ( that offers all types of exhibits and marketing services.)