By Candy Adams, The Booth Mom®

ExhibitionsThe latest EXHIBITOR Magazine 2019 Economic Outlook Survey, just released this month, says that about 26 percent of exhibitors have definite plans to purchase a new exhibit in 2019, while 24 percent reported having tentative plans to buy within the next 12 months. 

But what if you’re in the other 50 percent who aren’t lucky enough to have been given the green light – or the greenbacks – for a new display this year?

Don’t despair! You have a number of options that may not be quite as exciting as a new build, but sometimes we just have to put a Band-Aid on what really needs a tourniquet! 

Let’s look at the seven possibilities of resurrecting ‒ or retiring ‒ your not-quite-extinct exhibit by reviewing all the options:

1) Reuse as is, or Rethink a Makeover

Start by objectively weighing both the practical and aesthetic value of the makeover versus the total cost of a project to update your exhibit. Think about how much value a revamp will add to your exhibit in functionality that will increase your ability to meet your show goals and objectives. Consider if your exhibit’s current condition conveys the right message about your company and brand.

2) Repair and Maintain

Most trade show exhibit budgets include a line item of a few percent for ongoing minor repairs. Regardless of how carefully your exhibit is packed for shipping to the show, and how careful your exhibit staff or labor crew are while unpacking, installing, dismantling, and repacking it, it’s almost impossible to avoid some wear and tear.

There are two things you can do to maintain your exhibit in optimal condition:

  • Always do a visual inspection of your freight when it arrives at your booth to identify any obvious damage. When crates lose their skids, pallets collapse, or rolling cases lose their wheels, these can cause damage to the exhibit properties stored inside. Inspect the insides of your crates and cases, too, especially if they contain jigging or foam that secures your exhibit components in place.
  • Ask your installation and dismantle (I&D) labor crew members to document any repairs that are needed that can’t be accomplished onsite during installation for repair when your exhibit returns to storage after the show.

3) Refurbish for a New Look

The next “R” is known in the exhibit industry as “refurb,” or refurbishment. The actual definition of the verb is “the act of renovating, re-equipping or restoring.” Refurbishing an exhibit property doesn’t necessarily mean a major makeover or overhaul, but generally includes changes to your exhibit that will upgrade the functionality or update the look of your exhibit. 

Brainstorm with your exhibit house to find ways to make your older exhibit look more contemporary. Consider cost-effective modifications like vinyl wraps, LED lighting, carpet inlays, updated graphics, or upgraded furnishings.

4) Rearrange the Layout

Simply rearranging the current components of your display can give you added flexibility to adapt to changing show objectives, products displayed, and your booth location. Moving exhibit properties around may increase the exhibit’s overall functionality, access to aisle traffic flow, and the eye appeal of an exhibit. 

5) Rent for Flexibility

Simply rearranging the current components of your display can give you added flexibility to adapt to changing show objectives, products displayed, and your booth location. Moving exhibit properties around may increase the exhibit’s overall functionality, access to aisle traffic flow, and the eye appeal of an exhibit. 

6) Recalculate and Reallocate Your Budget

There may be times when nothing can resuscitate your exhibit and someone just needs to put it out of its misery.

If your exhibit is 1) excessively bulky and heavy to ship, 2) a heavyweight to haul in and out of the exhibit hall, 3) labor-intensive (making I&D a budget-buster), or 4) giving the impression that your company is on the endangered species’ list, it may be time to pull the plug on your dinosaur exhibit’s life support.

After evaluating the ongoing cost of owning “Dino,” I compared his costs to the size, weight and labor required for a new exhibit. I discovered that the show services savings of a new exhibit could easily pay for a new SEG exhibit in just two years.

7) Recycle for More Green

The best news was that I sold "Dino" to a local start-up company, making a few greenbacks on him that went back into our trade show program’s budget.

Plus, saving Dino’s bones from premature burial in the local landfill made the transaction even “greener” – both budget-wise and contributing to the company’s sustainability goals.

So don’t give up on your dream of a new cost-efficient, functional and eye-popping exhibit in your future that will truly reflect your company’s brand. With the seven Rs – and even with a small budget and creative thinking – there’s still hope!

Candy Adams, CTSM | CEM | CMP | CMM, affectionately known throughout the trade show industry as “The Booth Mom®” for sharing her expertise and experience with rookie exhibitors, is the definitive source for exhibiting best practices. With 25+ years’ experience as an exhibit project manager, 450+ shows under her belt, 20+ years as EXHIBITOR Magazine’s award-winning columnist penning “Exhibiting 101” and conference faculty member for EXHIBITORLIVE, she's the go-to guru for exhibit management. Candy provides hands-on freelance exhibit project management, consulting and exhibit staff training to companies without a dedicated in-house exhibit manager through her company, Trade Show Consulting. Learn more about Candy at:

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