by Reno Macri
When planning an exhibition, businesses place a strong emphasis on exhibition stands, as getting the right design can go a long way towards attracting visitors. It is understandable, therefore, that many companies pay out for the services of a specialist design company, with previous experience in this area. However, with so many companies to choose from, picking the right one can be a long-winded task in itself. To make the process easier, here is an insider’s guide to selecting the right design company for your exhibition needs.
Before the selection process itself, it is crucial that you set out exactly what you are hoping to achieve with your exhibition and how you want to achieve it. This includes establishing a clear budget, deciding which exhibition(s) you are attending and deciding exactly what you will be exhibiting. If you are attending a huge trade show to exhibit a new product and have rather ambitious requirements, it may make sense to try to work with a respected international exhibition company, whereas if you are just attending a small local exhibition, you may only have fairly modest design needs and a smaller company may suffice.
Once you have a clear idea of what it is you are looking for, you can begin the preliminary research process. During this stage, you should use the internet and any other resources at your disposal to find out about exhibition design companies in the local area and beyond, so that you can create an initial short list. Visit company websites, look for information on their past projects, and try to get a feel for their values to see if they are in line with yours. You should not, however, rely entirely on their own website. Try to find reviews or feedback from clients and see if you can narrow your search down to the five or six most suitable businesses.
After creating a short list of possible exhibition design companies to turn to, the next step is to make some enquiries. At first, the questions you ask may be fairly superficial, but as your interest becomes more serious, you may consider drawing up a formal Request for Qualifications (RFQ). At the minimum, you should ask for:
- An overview of services provided
- A portfolio detailing successful projects
- Proof of financial stability
- References from clients
Set Up a Meeting
If your enquiry phase goes well, references come back positive and you have a good overall impression, it is time to meet face-to-face and take the discussions to the next level. It is during this phase that you should start to get a clear idea of whether the design company is right for you.
essentially, you can treat this meeting in much the same way you would treat an interview. One trick is to ask them behavioural questions so that you can assess how they deal with certain situations. Past behaviour is our best indicator of future behaviour, so find out about their previous work, previous problems, how they dealt with issues and so on.
Hire the Best Fit
Assuming your dealings with companies have been positive, it is time to choose between them and the most important thing is to select the company which is the best fit with your business. This means that their values are in-line with yours, that their services fit into your price range and that they are able to meet your requirements. “Another thing to consider is whether the interpretive firm is also asking you questions,” says Betty Bennan, President and Founder of Taylor Studios, Inc. “Fit goes both ways. Additionally, it shows they have done their homework and care about the project. You want a partner that is concerned about your needs, wants and results.”
Reno is a Director of a leading exhibition and event company Enigma Visual Solutions, specialising in exhibition stand design, retail designs, interiors, graphic productions, signage systems, event branding, conference set design and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. You can follow him on Twitter.