For many businesses, exhibitions can become a central focal point in the calendar. They can take months of planning and preparation to make just a couple of days a success. They have been around for over 100 years, but there is one thing which has never changed. The waste they produce.
For many exhibitors, those months are spent toiling on strategy and presentation to create a bespoke exhibition stand which will stand them head and shoulders above the competition. Often, this comes in the form of striking and towering stands which are visible from every corner of the hall.
What many attendees will not see though is the clear-up after events such as these. Those custom-built exhibition stands which once took pride of place as industry professionals ebbed and flowed around in their presence are regularly abandoned. Considering a stand such as this can easily cost a business at least a four-figure sum, the impact both economically and on their eco-efficiency is remarkable.
Why Exhibitions Can Be Wasteful:
On the whole, exhibitions and trade shows are incredibly wasteful. From the custom exhibition stands to other factors such as power as well as the fuel required just to get thousands of people under that one roof means there is a lot that can be done to make the practice more eco-efficient. This begins with the user; both the attendees and exhibitors who fill up thousands of exhibition halls around the world every year. Even before we begin with the stand, it is important to consider the cost of attending. International trade shows are increasingly being hosted in Asia and the Middle East, which require thousands to travel across the globe for a one or two-day conference. Unless this is considered to be a crucial event for your business, is it really worth the impact it will have on your carbon footprint?
Then comes in the issue of travelling with exhibition stands. Regardless of whether it is at home or abroad, the overall size of some display stands calls for additional transport and often even requires more labour just to set it up once you arrive. Because the nature of exhibitions tends to vary from venue to venue, often exhibitors will find themselves with a 3x3m space for one yet a 5x2m space for another. This is where logistical issues begin to arise as businesses look towards exhibition stands which are tailored for each individual space.
Making Your Exhibition Stand Eco-friendlier:
The first step to making your exhibition experience eco-friendlier is simple; ditch the custom built exhibition stands. Despite their obvious visual impact, success at exhibitions and trade shows is not built upon a fancy backdrop. While they may be able to grab the attention of some attendees on the day, a lot of the work should be done beforehand. This means organising meetings with clients and conducting marketing online to let people know that you will be attending. This allows you to develop a rich pool of individuals that you will be speaking to without the significant economic and practical offset caused by custom built exhibition stands.
Of course, some form of exhibition stand will be required to identify your business to those who will recognise the name, which is where modular and pop-up stands come in. While they may not hit the unique tone that custom built stand owners get used to, they still provide an eye-catching backdrop and have one very important advantage; re-usability. This style of exhibition stand does not need to be abandoned and dumped at the end of every show because they can be taken down in five minutes.
So if you have a few events lined up over the course of the year, invest in a single, easy-to-use exhibition stand which can do the job at each event. Not only does this save a large chunk of your budget, but it also saves on a huge amount of materials which are traditionally thrown-away when used in custom built exhibition stands. If the size of the pitch which you are provided with at the venue is prone to change, then use other display elements such as banner stands to flesh out the design without having to commission a complete new exhibition stand.
Using Exhibition Stands for More Than Just Exhibitions:
Rather than simply re-cycling your exhibition stand after an event, there is a great deal of potential available to re-use them. The compact nature of pop-up stands and banner stands means they can be set up as well as packed away by one person, making them an invaluable companion wherever you are going to present your business. Their eye-catching and subtle nature makes them a useful tool for use at local fayres, presentations and even as backdrops to meetings, anywhere where you need to spread your branding. Crucially, this helps to cut down on additional promotional material that you may have used instead and it helps your budget to stretch even further.
On the note of promotional materials, this is a similar area where a lot of wastage originates. Everyone seems to get the same idea that ordering boxes full to the brim of leaflets and other promotional material will give potential clients something to remember them by. In reality, they end up in the bin with the 30 others that they had stuffed in their hand on the first day alone. As an alternative, with the advent of technology there is a neat way of getting rid of these crummy giveaways altogether and helping your marketing in the long term. Tablet computers are fantastic in this sense. Once you have an interested party, get them signed up to your mailing list using the tablet. Through this, you can send a digital leaflet that they can view when they are back at their desk and you have their contact details for use in the future.
Thinking Long Term
Transforming your exhibition experience to be eco-friendlier not only will help your budget and return on investment, but it also helps to reduce your carbon footprint. A common misconception is that being able to shout the loudest on the day will leave your business fresh in the memories of attendees. Ultimately though, it is the product or services and people at the core of the team that make the real impact. Custom built exhibition stands might look good to post on your social media, but the real results come from putting the effort in behind the scenes.
About the Author
Lee Bierton is a Marketing Specialist at Go Displays, an expert manufacturer of exhibition stands based in the United Kingdom. They design eco-friendly solutions for exhibitors which are tailored to last.