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What’s Going On Out There?


What’s going on out there?

That seems to be the question many of us are asking. If you’re like me, trapped at home base nearly all the time, you probably ask this same question. We all know working in a vacuum is no way to be current in any business.

In these days of social media madness, it’s almost overload on what to read and where to get the best information on current trends. You might have that one really good source or person you trust to convey everything that is Exhibit World or maybe you look to the trade magazines – another good source. But what about the details? The stuff in the trenches that could be very important but as of yet is not “big news”. Hmmmm.

It dawned on me, well, truthfully it was suggested, that my best source for learning what’s new out there was right under my big nose! At Optima, we are truly fortunate to have a number of seasoned Account Executives roaming around the entire country at all times.

An atypical for the times – non-virtual network of Exhibit Trade information. You know, the face-to-face thing. Real events are built on talking with someone instead of tweeting or texting them. Nothing too personal or confidential, of course, but good info for all of us. Industry needs, trends, issues, success stories, who’s new, who’s back. My personal interests are always orbiting around what our customer’s customers are asking for and why.

This week I just asked the AE’s and some others what’s going on out there? The tremendous amount of feedback immediately generated would be input-overload so I thank all of them for sharing and I share with you here just a few gems.

I had a few customers mention that rentals remain a very strong part of their business. They are selling new booths and most of those new booths are replacements for old systems. One additional comment was that people were selling additional products and graphics to more contacts within a company than ever before. Interior graphics was mentioned 2-3 times and the angle of using fabric graphics vs. vinyl which was the historical choice. The fabric graphics looked better and could be used longer or become part of a program that changes the graphics out seasonally.

Glowing Graphics.. Exhibitors are excited about LED’s and opportunities for “lighting the world”. Stretching the limits of fabric – literally. Designers are using SEG in new and exciting ways. Dressing custom metal structures that flaunt the crazies curves and shapes people can dream up. Project managers are looking for new ways to separate themselves from the competition – they are finding most helpful to communicate these new ideas through presentation examples. In this complex, competitive climate, companies are finding it necessary to set the bar for service and step up their customer support.

Good News! The overall tradeshow business is up in the Midwest territories. With attendance to certain trade shows growing and are at least greater than 2008 levels. The forecast for 2012 is bullish.  On the flip side, budgets are smaller with more emphasis trending on the portable solutions. Booth space also is on the decrease. The result is that more exhibitors are looking for portable solutions with a custom appearance.

Rental display options are on the rise and frequently requested. As timelines for approval extend, lead times on job delivery continue to diminish. Ability to turn-around jobs quickly continues to be key in winning new business! Probably the most exciting thing going on out there is that companies are beginning to hire staff!

People are busy, could always be busier, but now I walk into custom display companies and saws are buzzing, which hasn’t been true over the past 2-3 years. It’s a good sound to hear!

Customers are wondering what the next big shake up is going to be in the trade show industry . . . many think virtual trade shows can be incorporated into their clients program; however, they don’t think this will replace the traditional trade show. Most everyone believes face-to-face marketing is still necessary.

Rework of graphics on existing exhibits is common – companies are living with existing exhibits longer than previous years. Electronics (flat screens) are becoming more popular – in some cases replacing but more less working in combination with printed graphics. Some exhibit houses are shipping on rollable carts rather than the traditional custom crates. This is a takeoff from the concert industry – quick ins and outs.

There you have it. If you want to know what’s going on just ask those who know. Please share your favorite source for staying on top of our industry. Maybe you have conflicting or additional news on What’s going on out there?
Please share!


Gary Camarato
VP Marketing & Creative Development
Optima Graphics

Categories: Business
  1. November 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Connectivity is the key to creating and retaining new business. Finding more customers and building better relationships is so important in today’s competitive marketplace. For event marketing, it’s all about interpreting a theme & vision using large format graphics, effective lighting, interactive presentations, and dynamic structures to attract new prospects. Integrate this into effective customer communications to explode your business. No doubt, the hottest trend right now is with streaming video- the next mega trend in online communications. Coordinate streaming video into branded email campaigns, video newsletters, multi-person 2-way video conferences and live broadcasts- it’s cutting-edge and the wave of the future. Get in front of more customers, put a smile on their faces, and build incremental sales and profit. Introduce yourself to new prospects from a simple smart phone app, thank a customer for their business, showcase your new projects to a whole database. Plus, with the referral income that you will generate, you will create an additional revenue stream! Check out the site and sign up to use the service- your customers will thank you! http://bit.ly/e6VTJ2

  2. November 13, 2011 at 11:49 am

    There arte dozens of ways that social media can improve your trade shoe existence greatly! As a veteran of the trade show world for over 20 years myself, and now the last 2 years owning a social media marketing agency, we are int he final stages of developing the initiatives we have created via video on how to leverage the social networks PROPERLY for increasing your trade show bottom line 🙂

    Visit my Facebook page to stay in touch and for the announcement of our launch for a new division of our company that will be for tradeshow displays and marketing.


  3. November 13, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Gary —

    Excellent blog post. I’m a junky for this information. Despite the fact that we live in a world of social media, emails, blogs, texting, etc., we still yearn for news and advice from our colleagues in the trade show business. We want to know what’s happening in Houston, Boston, Phoenix. We want to know if what we’re experiencing in our local market is similar or different from what’s happening elsewhere. No other company in our industry has a better window into industry trends than Optima because no other company does as thorough a job connecting with distributors every single day.

    Well done and I encourage your team to continue sharing this information. Great stuff.

    Thanks, Mel

  4. September 16, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    If you have a modular unit, subtracting a few internal walls should not be a problem.
    But before you can enjoy its advantages, you ought to determine how you can choose
    a display that will make you able to pull people towards your stall.
    The best way to use banners is to display them outside
    your booth or at the entrance.

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