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by Aleta Walther

The big news during EXHIBITORLive 2018 was not the number of exhibitors, nor the number of attendees, not even the record-breaking class attendance. The strikingly obvious change was the event’s new branding. Hosted at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center in Las Vegas, Feb. 26-March 1, the annual learning conference and trade show was touted as an opportunity to “Connect With Your Species.”

Having covered the ExhibitorLive show for six of the last eight years, I was slack-jawed as I passed under the roll-up door and into the registration foyer. Gone was the familiar setting of shows past. In its place was a more inviting, more vibrant, more refreshing venue. More, more, more, yet it was impossible to ignore the “elephant in the room.”

Yes, in the middle of the registration area/lobby stood a fluorescent pink, adult-sized elephant and a post of a friendly mouse beseeching attendees not “to climb, write or sit” on his behemoth friend. The lobby, rebranded as the “Connection Zone,” was also much larger and airier than the past while offering an inviting array of seating and table options for meeting friends, clients, business partners, dealers, checking emails or just catnapping.

ExhibitorLive-John-PavekJohn Pavek, chief marketing officer for EXHIBITOR magazine (pictured left), says management decided it was time to shake up the show’s brand. The first step was to pump up the lobby’s vibe. In the past, the exhibit hall and lobby were separate, the exhibit hall’s lively ambiance hidden behind drapery and badge police. With the drapes absent this year, the exhibit halls’ voice and majesty were exposed, beckoning all to enter.

“This show has been around for 30 years and from time to time we look to re-invent ourselves,” says Pavek. “We have always known that the exhibit hall is such an incredible place, so we said, ‘what can we do to enhance the exhibit hall experience for both the attendees and the exhibitors?’ We consulted numerous experts on show design and we came up with the idea of creating a retail shopping experience, taking a cue from stores like Best Buy, where the customer walks in and sees everything–to open up the sight lines.”

Pavek says that the second most important change this year was redesigning the entry venue into a “Connection Zone.” “It’s about changing the way people connect and engage during the show,” said Pavek.  “In the past, many companies and sponsors held dealer meetings and other gatherings away from the show floor. With that in mind, we wanted to provide a convenient place for them to meet, close to the show floor. The Connection Zone does just that with the show hall as a beautiful backdrop.”

Pavek adds that the slogan, “Connect With Your Species,” is more than a marketing slogan. Show management wanted attendees to engage and connect with like-minded professionals, including attendees who have a need for a product or service and people who can fulfill that need. “2018 is year one of a three-year plan to re-energize EXHIBITORLive,” says Pavek. “Our goal for next year is that attendees will be just as surprised as they were this year.”

Attendance up, exhibit space holds steady

ExhibitorLive’s overall attendance was up about 11 percent over the 2017 edition with Pavek highlighting a nice growth in conference attendees and “exhibit hall only” attendance. According to Pavek, exhibitor floor space sold was about the same despite five fewer exhibitors this year

Among the conference attendees were 30 newly certified trade show marketers (CTSM) graduates who were honored during a celebration dinner on Feb. 25 at the Mandalay Bay. Another 40+ candidates sat for the CTSM certification exam during EXHIBITORLive. Jan Nelson, CTSM director, says the education sessions were well attended by CTSM candidates and individuals taking classes without pursuing the CTSM credential. “The program is thriving,” Nelson says. “We are just a handful away from having 600 CTSM graduates and we had many, many new enrollees at this show.” She adds that there were many new classes this year, attracting CTSM graduates pursuing continuing education.

And the winners are…

During EXHIBITORLive, Exhibitor Media Group handed out numerous awards in a variety of categories. The Best of Show Awards categories were judged by 100+ corporate marketers attending the event.

Best New Exhibitor:  Holographic Entrance, Luminescence Production Services, New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“Judges loved how Holographic Entrance used their small booth (10×10) to facilitate an immersive attendee engagement that was laser-focused on the product being displayed,” stated an Exhibitor magazine press release. “They also appreciated how the exhibitor placed its product at the front of the booth and incorporated simple and crystal-clear, key messaging.”

Holographic’s FogScreen technology allows a company to project its logo, product or message onto flowing fog. Holographicentrance.com states that the FogScreen application is well suited for tradeshows, conferences and other events. Dennis Finnegan, relationship coordinator for Luminescence, says placing FogScreen at the entry of a booth creates a safe, immersive experience for attendees. “This product is truly engaging…a fantastic social media tool where people can interact with the projection,” says Finnegan.

Best of Show Small Booth, less than 200 sq. feet: Blue Pony, Fort Wayne, Ind.

“Judges said Blue Pony used its booth space extremely well, going far beyond the typical small booth setup,” stated the press release. “They enjoyed the clean design, friendly and knowledgeable staffers, clear messaging, and engaging activity, calling the booth both inviting and exciting.”

Blue Pony creates royalty-free motion graphics for entertainment, sales, and educational purposes. For example, sales presentations, tradeshows, interactive touch screens, the web, digital signage, advertising, interactive touch screens and special events. “We believe that our exhibit was attractive to attendees because of the fun experience we provided,” says Nathan Grepke, president, Blue Pony. “We offered a dart game… that people found intriguing, a lot of curiosity with people thinking, ‘it looks like a digital LCD monitor we’re but throwing darts at it. How are they pulling that off?’ ”

Best Big Booth, more than 200 sq. feet: Exhibit Concepts Inc., Dayton, Ohio and Chicago, Ill.

“Judges said Exhibit Concepts utilized its booth space very well, incorporating a double-deck structure, bold graphics, eye-catching audiovisual elements, and an open, inviting layout,” says the press release. “Judges also gave Exhibit Concepts high marks for the exhibit’s second-story meeting space and glass cubes featuring past products, and they raved over its friendly, professional booth staff.”

Exhibit Concepts designs and produces branded environments, including tradeshows, museums, corporate interiors, experiential and interactive engagements, creative and design services, and program management. “Our employees… they’re the reason we are and have been so successful for 40 years and this booth is no exception,” says Kelli Glasser, president and CEO for Exhibit Concepts. “I’m so proud of the Exhibit Concepts team. This booth is a testament to the incredible talent we have in our company, from concept all the way to execution.”

Best Booth Staff: beMatrix USA, Norcross, Ga.

“beMatrix booth staffers were extremely inviting, friendly, and comfortable discussing the product without engaging in a hard sell,” according to the press release. “Judges also indicated that every individual they encountered in the booth seemed intimately familiar with the company’s offerings and were entirely on message throughout the interactions.”

beMatrix produces a trademarked Tooless frame system for exhibits that is applicable for a variety of environments, including, tradeshows, events, museums and retail environments. “Winning the award was not our objective,” says Emma Christen, marketing specialist for beMatrix. “The objective was to create relationships with our customers and other people in the industry by being our authentic selves”

Buyers Choice Awards

EXHIBITORLIVE’s New Product Showcase featured 33 new products making their debut. A panel of conference attendees compared them and selected six as Product Showcase Buyers Choice Award winners:

  • Makitso USA, WaveLight Inflatable Backlit Counter
  • SocialPoint, Digital Fishbowl
  • beMatrix, LEDskin
  • Exhibitry, Tactile VR-AR
  • Reality Engineering Solutions, REP Connect
  • Fusion Imaging, Klik SEG Frames

Portable Modular Awards

EXHIBITOR magazine unveiled the winners of its 2018 Portable/Modular Awards during its annual Las Vegas gathering as well. The award celebrates design excellence in portable, modular, and system exhibits. Judged by a panel of marketing and design experts, the competition featured 11 categories. There were also two special awards presented: the Zeigler Award, given to the project earning the highest score regardless of category, and the People’s Choice Award, chosen by popular vote on ExhibitorOnline.com.

Zeigler Award
Exhibitor: Aluvision Inc.
System: Aluvision Inc.
Design/Fabrication: Aluvision Inc.
Photos: Aluvision Inc.

People’s Choice Award
Exhibitor: Parallon Business Solutions
System: Classic Exhibits Inc.
Design/Fabrication: Classic Exhibits Inc.
Design: Astor Group Exhibitor Services
Photos: Miriphoto; Miriam Lorenzi Photography

Best 10-by-10-Foot Exhibit
Exhibitor: Orkin LLC
System: beMatrix
Design/Fabrication: e4 Design
Photos: e4 Design

Best Island Exhibit Less Than 600 Sq. Ft.
Exhibitor: Payfactors Group LLC
System: Moss Inc.
Design/Fabrication: Hill & Partners
Photos: Hill & Partners

Best Island Exhibit 600 to 1,000 Sq.Ft.
Exhibitor: Elgato Systems GmbH
System: beMatrix
Design/Fabrication: Access TCA Inc.
Photos: Padgett and Company Inc.

Best Island Exhibit More Than 1,000 Sq. Ft.
Exhibitor: Aluvision Inc.
System: Aluvision Inc.
Design/Fabrication: Aluvision Inc.
Photos: Aluvision Inc.

Best Fabric Exhibit
Exhibitor: RCS Sound
System: Tectonics
Design/Fabrication: Exhibit Concepts Inc.
Photos: Cole Group

Best Use of Graphics
Exhibitor: Nilit Ltd.
System: Moss Inc.
Design/Fabrication: Hill & Partners
Photos: Cole Group

Best In-Line Exhibit
Exhibitor: Farmhouse Culture
System: beMatrix
Design/Fabrication: Condit Exhibits
Photos: Exposures Ltd.

Best International Designer
Exhibitor: Burkhardt Leitner Modular Spaces GmbH
System: Burkhardt Leitner Modular Spaces GmbH
Design/Fabrication: Terminal Design
Photos: Andreas Hagemann

Best Reconfigurable Exhibit
Exhibitor: Twitch Interactive Inc.
System: beMatrix
Design/Fabrication: Astound Group Inc.
Photos: Evan Richman Photography

Best Rental Exhibit
Exhibitor: Cybereason Inc.
System: Moss Inc.
Design/Fabrication: Hill & Partners
Photos: Hill & Partners

Best Use of Technology
Exhibitor: beMatrix
System: beMatrix
Design: Dirk Driehuijzeh Design
Fabrication: Next Level BVBA
Photos: beMatrix

2018 Find It–Top 40

This award honors the industry’s top exhibit producers and more than 100 exhibit houses with offices in the U.S. and/or Canada applied for the honor. Each was subjected to an evaluation process, including more than 50 individual criteria, all weighted to reflect how EXHIBITOR readers and the magazine’s editorial advisory board members value them when vetting and selecting potential partners. The criteria considered were categorized into five primary areas:

  • company and capabilities
  • honors and awards
  • thought leadership and industry participation
  • reliability and service
  • creativity and key differentiators

Conducted by corporate exhibit managers, the evaluation process included surveying current clients and a review of entrants’ past projects, selling points, and innovations.

“This program is intended to spotlight the best exhibit producers in the industry, while also providing a valuable resource for exhibit managers searching for new potential partners,” says Randy Acker, president and COO of Exhibitor Media Group. “The Find It–Top 40 represents the most exclusive list of U.S. and Canadian exhibit providers in the industry and serves as… a seal of approval when it comes to the companies behind many of the most successful tradeshow stands in the world.”

The following companies qualified for the 2018 Find It–Top 40 list, and five of them were honored for earning the highest score in an individual category of criteria:

  • The Taylor Group – Company and Capabilities
  • Mirror Show Management Inc. – Honors and Awards
  • GES – Leadership and Industry Participation
  • Classic Exhibits Inc. – Reliability and Service
  • Derse Inc. – Creativity and Key Differentiators.

“The competition for a spot on the 2018 Find It–Top 40 list was extremely competitive,” says Travis Stanton, editor of EXHIBITOR magazine. “After evaluating dozens of criteria and totaling the scores, less than a single point separated several firms from making the cut.”

 2018 Find It–Top 40 list (in alphabetical order)

  • 2020 Exhibits
  • 3D Exhibits Inc.
  • 760 Display Inc.
  • Access TCA Inc.
  • Acer Exhibits & Events LLC
  • Affinity Displays & Expositions Inc. (ADEX)
  • Blue Sky Exhibits LLC
  • BlueHive Inc.
  • Chicago Exhibit Productions Inc. (CEP)
  • Classic Exhibits Inc.
  • Czarnowski Display Service Inc.
  • Deckel & Moneypenny Inc.
  • Derse Inc.
  • Exhibit Concepts Inc.
  • Exhibitpro
  • Exhibitus Inc.
  • Freeman
  • George P. Johnson Experience Marketing
  • GES
  • Group Delphi
  • Hadley Exhibits Inc.
  • Hill & Partners
  • Impact XM
  • Katherine Frank Creative Inc.
  • Kubik Inc.
  • Matrex Exhibits
  • MC2
  • mg
  • Mirror Show Management Inc.
  • nParallel
  • Pinnacle Exhibits Inc.
  • ProExhibits
  • RES Exhibit Services LLC
  • Skyline Exhibits LLC
  • Spoon Exhibits & Events
  • Steelhead Productions Inc.
  • The Rogers Company
  • The Taylor Group
  • The Trade Group Inc.
  • Visual Communications Inc.

This story originally appeared in the May/June issue of Exhibit City News, p. 34-39. For more pictures and original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/may-jun_ecn2018 

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