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For the past nine years, Exhibitor Media Group and the Exhibit Designers + Producers Association (EDPA) University Affiliation program provided an exhibit space for Bemidji State and FIT/NY students to introduce themselves and to share their portfolios with prospective employers at the EXHIBITORLIVE event. The students also wish to attract design companies to sponsor them for internship opportunities to augment their curriculum.

EDPA has been a strong believer that supporting a focused educational training program for exhibit design will provide a shining light to keep our industry creative in spirit and knowledgeable about face-to-face marketing tactics that work at tradeshows.

Exhibit design students on guided tour before opening of EXHIBITORLIVE 2015.

Exhibit design students on guided tour before opening of EXHIBITORLIVE 2015.

Each year, before the EXHIBITORLIVE officially opens the doors to the exhibit hall, EDPA provides a guided tour to meet different types of exhibit industry suppliers, who are all EDPA members and supporters of the program.

The purpose of the tour is to see the exhibit hall in what may appear to some in a state of chaos and anxiety. As exhibit designers, be aware of what you design as someone has to build it. This period of installation is a reality check that most will not see until the show opens the next day. Fork lifts, ladders, carpenters are gone and replaced with the smiling faces of booth staff representatives eager to showcase their services with lights on and monitors flashing.

The exhibit hall tour began at the EXHIBITORLIVE registration area where Randy Acker, President & COO of Exhibitor Media Group, and Larry Kulchawik, past president of EDPA and IFES industry associations, introduced the students and faculty to how a tradeshow is created and managed. The tour then made 10 stops to various types of exhibit suppliers – fabric, lighting, A/V, furniture, flooring, exhibit systems, portable exhibits, show contractor and full service exhibit houses who all play a role in the creation of a tradeshow exhibit. This behind the scenes tour provided valuable insight to the workings of a magical industry.

“Regardless of how busy things are for me the day before our show opens, I always have time for the future designers of the exhibit industry,” said Randy Acker. “I firmly believe that we veterans of the industry need to help the next generation succeed – their success will be our success. The student’s passion and energy for our industry inspires me and reminds me just how dynamic our industry really is.”

“Whenever I get a chance to speak about the exhibit industry, I always share this fact – tradeshows and meetings generate $100 billion in the U.S. As an industry, it is ranked No. 22 in contribution to the GNP, larger than agriculture and the printing industry, yet few have gone to school to enter the business,” remarked Larry Kulchawik. “We have all fumbled into it, were self-taught and have done pretty well. Imagine how much stronger the industry could be if we studied our trade before doing it?”

“Might there come a time when human interactions in a controlled environment will no longer more effective than electronic communication? For now, my bet is on the power of emotion through live interaction. Let’s continue to train others to exploit the art of tradeshow marketing.”

The tradeshow industry continues to grow worldwide. Its future relies on successful face-to-face marketing tactics that work to grow businesses.


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