A Guide to getting the best from your exhibition contractors

When you decide to go to an exhibition and to have a stand designed and built, there is one key party involved that can save you both time and budget, they can ensure that everything runs smoothly and that your stand looks its very best on the day the show opens and visitors start to come through the door. Your exhibition contractor.

One of the key benefits that an exhibition contractor brings to the relationship is experience. This may be your first show, it may be your thirty-first, but for them it is likely to one of hundreds they deliver every year. And through that experience they will have a wealth of knowledge that can help you cut through the complexities and processes that can often surround taking an exhibition stand.

One thing that always seems to be in short supply when considering exhibitions is time. This becomes a rare commodity from the moment you decide to attend an exhibition and this is where your exhibition contractor can start to add value to the process.

If you engage with a contractor before you book your exhibition space, this may sound a little bit 'cart before horse' but bear with me on this, they can provide valuable insight into a whole range of factors even before you pick your stand.

And picking your exhibition stand space is just one aspect of the process that your contractor can help you with. In all likelihood they will have built stands in the venue before and they should, if you have chosen wisely, have built stands in that show before. As an aside, if you are using a stand contractor that is already working at the exhibition building on other stands then there are economies of scale to be had regarding transport of materials to the venue, resources on site and if the build up takes more than a day, accommodation costs for the teams building the stands, so it may be worth taking a look at who is already working in the venue when you start looking to appoint a contractor.

Back to the matter in hand, because the contractor comes armed with all of this foreknowledge they can advise on where the best position would be in the show – is it near feature areas, coffee bars, on the route to the toilets, which are the dead spots – don't be mislead, all exhibitions have hot and cool spots. If it is in a venue with a glass roof they will know if the venue has any form of blinds, this could be essential if the exhibition is in the summer and you are wanting to use AV or projection on your stand where lighting levels would be critical. This would then allow them to advise on whether you may need a casement ceiling to cut down glare.

If they know the venue and the show they will also know the organisers ops team, the people who pull the show together, so their relationship may be able to ease the process of getting all of the health and safety aspects completed, orders for any ancillary services, especially electrics. Electrics at an exhibition can be a costly business, this is not like having a plug wired at home, it is a temporary installation that changes and moves with each show so the cost is considerably more. However, working with an experienced contractor should allow you to use their experience as to what is the correct amount of power required, they can even advise on the very latest low energy opportunities such as LED lighting.

If the exhibition moves between venues a good exhibition contractor will know if the venues have the same regulations operating in each or if there are differences between the new and the old venue. This could be something as simple as the tread and riser sizes on a staircase being different. The industry is working to harmonise these standards but not all venues are part of this programme so knowing which ones are and which are not can save a lot of time and cost further down the line.

This is not an exhaustive list of reasons to make use of your contractor early in the process, however, it does indicate why their appointment should be made at the start of the journey rather than further down the road. Look at it as if you are recruiting a whole team of experts that can provide you with the very best advice, they live with this every working day so tap into their expertise.

One final thing exhibition contractors know very well and that is where the good accommodation and after show eateries are to be found. They spend their days in and around venues so use this inside knowledge to your advantage. It also makes going to an exhibition great fun.

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