The trade show display industry continues to grow and evolve as sign and digital graphics companies devise new and interesting ways to grab a piece of the market. From lightweight modular frame systems to experiential elements like LED lighting, the trade show display industry continues to look for ways to make a splash.
Birmingham, Ala.-based ExpoDisplays has seen a huge increase in the number of its customers requesting experiential elements in their trade show exhibits.
“People are wanting experiential technology or a display built around some experiential element so they can tell their story in a more interactive way,” says Terri Parker, marketing director for ExpoDisplays.
The company also has seen an increase in the number of people who want trade show display options that can be rearranged or reconfigured, depending on the trade show space.
ExpoDisplays makes a MultiQuad system that allows customers to reconfigure their booth and add items to it.
“When people are looking at larger exhibits, they are already committed to a larger floor space at the show, so they want something lighter and more modular, so they are not incurring exhibit costs and event management costs of something that has a custom weight to it,” Parker says. “They want a custom look but don’t necessarily want to pay for the custom drayage that goes with it. They have pushed the industry to look for new ways to build exhibits in a lighter, more streamlined, fashion.”
MultiQuad is a portable display composed of aluminum extrusions and interchangeable graphics. The magnetic graphics stick onto the metal extrusions.
“It’s more or less like LEGOs,” Parker says. “You can reconfigure them. As long as you have the basic components, you can just add to them.”
The company prints high definition graphics that give the look of a custom exhibit, including some that look like real wood.
The company’s Threads system uses dye-sublimated fabric over a stand-alone aluminum frame. It uses a zipper and Velcro to secure the fabric onto the frame. Many exhibitors like to include freestanding elements in their displays, she says.
Impact Advertising in Santa Ana, Calif., doesn’t specialize in trade show displays but it does sell a lot of backdrops and canopies that are used in trade show displays. It also does a huge amount of printed table covers that can be waterproof and fire-resistant, depending on the requirements of the convention center.
“We do a huge amount of retractable banner stands,” says Jeff Jacobson, president of Impact Advertising. “All of our retractable banner stands are manufactured with fabric banners. We do not use any of the vinyl-coated products or PVC-coated products.”
Retractable banners are popular because they break down to a small bag that can be put into a box or easily carried onto a plane.
“Even the biggest companies still have retractable banners in their booths so when people are walking by they can see the bullet points of what the company is offering,” says Jacobson.
A specialist in outdoor advertising, many of Impact Advertising’s products can be integrated into trade show displays, including Bow Banners, which feature coated polyester banners and a high strength anodized aluminum pole frame that is lightweight and able to handle outdoor extremes.
The company also offers Teardrop and Flag banners. The Teardrop Banner looks like a tear drop that swivels, dances and moves in whichever direction the wind is blowing.
Jacobson, who attends many trade shows each year, says that the newest trend in the industry that is gaining in popularity is LED walls.
Orbus Exhibit & Display Group is one of the largest exhibit display manufacturers in the country. It makes banner stands, outdoor displays, collapsible displays and display accessories.
“There’s a lot of innovation that goes into making sure displays are different than others in the marketplace provide,” says Natalie Whited, vice president of marketing for Orbus Exhibit & Display Group.
Some of the company’s top-selling displays are banner stands and collapsible displays that come in a variety of sizes, curved and straight.
Hop Up Tension Fabric displays by New World Case, Inc. are also very popular. The graphic is pre-attached to the frame and assembly is simple. The exhibitor pops up the frame, connects the interior of the frame with channel bars so that it stands on its own and the graphic becomes taut.
Another Orbus division is focused on fabric structures and modular exhibits.
“That is a really fast growing and exponentially growing area of the business as well. Where portable is our bread and butter, our modular product category is growing significantly with fabric structures. We had a combined 80 percent growth year-over-year in modular exhibit kits and fabric structures,” Whited says.
The company has created many different modular exhibit kits over the last few years. The kits allow customers to see what is possible when they have fast turnaround times.
“You can get a semi-custom exhibit in a very short window of time. I think that has led to a significant increase in the growth of those lines. They are unique and they are proprietary designs that Orbus has released to the markets,” she says.
Kits are also cheaper to buy and more efficient to set up.
Along with pillow case style graphics, Orbus offers architectural graphics as well, like hanging arches, funnels and columns. These are not just for trade shows, but do very well in a retail setting, Whited says.
Another popular trade show display category are modular display lines that feature push fit or silicon edge graphics that slide into a frame. Over the last three years, Orbus has introduced about 40 different exhibit kits that feature the SEG push fit fabric graphics.
“If you compare a modular display to a portable display, the portable display is faster, more collapsible, more portable and fits in a smaller case. Modular systems are a bit more complex as far as assembly goes. They are more sophisticated as well. They provide a more polished look and they often incorporate additional elements,” she says. Those can include illumination for light boxes, monitors, literature racks, tables and counters, accessories and canopies.
“The modular exhibits and displays are more sophisticated because their construction allows for more customization and a little more enhanced types of features and accents,” she says.
ExpoDisplays sends out a lot of hanging signs with exhibits.
“We have a lot of customers who incorporate banner stands into their booths. They want to have the basic back wall they use over and over but they want to introduce something like a new banner stand,” Parker says.
The company even offers a desktop version of its banner stand, which can be used as giveaway stands that are unique to the trade show they are at. These freestanding elements are popular because they are inexpensive and relatively simple to change out.
Backlit graphics are another important trade show display option. Many companies are getting very creative in their displays. One of ExpoDisplays clients had a fully functioning waterfall in their display surrounded by a grotto.
Other trade show booths include sensory tubes where exhibitors can include sounds and smells into their displays.
“It is an exciting time to be in the industry,” Parker says.