Choosing a reliable contractor for your trade show exhibit

by Silvia Olmo

Face to Face marketing is a powerful force. Your booth starts off as an empty space and it is up to you to turn it into a phenomenal and stimulating environment where you can  connect with customers and new prospects. Depending on the size of the space you have reserved, you will most likely need to hire a contractor to build a booth that fits your requirements.

Hiring a talented exhibit company is essential to your reputation so it is important for you to find a trade show contractor that is capable of delivering your message with impact. With so many contractors willing to send you booth proposals for your upcoming trade shows, choosing one can be quite a task. Remember, most companies will be able you build you exactly what you are looking for but what matters is how they do it - the finishing makes all the difference. When you hire a contractor, it is worth your while doing thorough research on the company to ensure you get enough bang for your buck. You want to aim to be the piece de resistance at any show you attend.

Remember, don't put all your eggs in one basket - If you do not have a database of contractors already, put together a list. Ask show organizers, friend's working at other companies and do some online searching. You can even visit other trade shows in your city and if you like a booth, ask the company who their contractor was. Send your RFP (Request for Proposal) to more than one company. When you receive proposals, narrow the list down based on budget, design, company reputation, quality of their work and the business-client rapport.

Before you finalise the deal or sign a contract, it is crucial to ensure you are choosing a reliable contractor for the job. Here are a few things you can do.

  • Ask for a reference - any reliable contractor will have no issue providing you with a reference or list of references. Call the reference, ask them if they were satisfied with the quality of work provided, if they faced any issues and if they would recommend the contractor. Ask the reference how many times they have worked together - if the answer is just once and the company is still exhibiting at shows then that might be a cause for concern. Also check online reviews.
  • Check their website - the contractor will most likely have a website. Check for client testimonials and pictures of the previous projects. Also look at what shows they have previously worked at to get an understanding of their global reach. Check which major brands have contracted them for exhibition work.
  • Portfolio - ask the company to send you a presentation or portfolio so you can assess their style and capabilities. Find out how long they have been in the business and how many companies they have built booths for in the past.
  • Choose a company that is willing to listen and is open to the possibility of last minute changes - chances are you will rearrange a few things when you get to the exhibition or that you will make a few changes before the show. For this reason, choosing a flexible partner for your trade show exhibit is advisable.
  • Ask the show organisers if there is anyone that they can recommend - most trade show organizers would be able to give you a list of reliable contractors that they have dealt with or other companies at the exhibition have dealt with in the past
  • Decide the scope of services you want from them - some exhibition booth contractors provide everything from staffing and marketing & PR support and others focus on booths only. Decide what you want from your contractor.
  • Look at their range of exhibits in different price ranges - not someone that can only do well with very high budgets
  • Will they do the work or outsource it to another company? You need to find out where your booth is being made and who is building it. If it is being built in another country, find out if it will be shipped over and if there are any customs problems that may arise and assess the risks.

Good luck finding a reliable trade show contractor and when you do, remember to read the contract carefully, preferably with a legal advisor.

Silvia Olmo
Editor in Chief in neventum