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The look of a world tradeshow

More and more tradeshows held in the U.S. are international traveling events that are often managed by an international show organizer. As a result, the organization methods, show rules and exhibit design styles for the shows are different from a typical American tradeshow. These events are sure not business as usual for the exhibit suppliers assisting their customers on the show floor.

One such show was World Routes 2014, held at McCormick Place in Chicago on Sept. 21-23. Upon entry to the show hall, it was quickly evident that this event looked a little different. World Routes celebrated its 20th year connecting world airline managers and coordinators to plan and improve air transportation to new global air routes. Airlines want to know more about the market first and then about the airports. World Routes is hosted in a different world location each year.

World Routes 2014 was held Sept. 20-23 in Chicago.
World Routes 2014 was held Sept. 20-23 in Chicago.

The official contractor for this U.S. event was Freeman, but the flavor of the show was distinctly different from other American tradeshow events. Note that American show organizers are also taking their events and methods abroad for shows held internationally. I suspect in due time we will all be borrowing a page from each other to organize and design tradeshows the same and the market will dictate what they prefer.

The theme of my upcoming book, “Doing Tradeshows from One Country to the Next,” is this – there is no right way, there is no wrong way, there is only a different way. Understanding and respecting tradeshow location differences is key to being successful in different world venue locations.

Here are a few of the differences I saw at World Routes show.

  • All stands were in a metric size and not the same cookie cutter shapes.
  • The Routes exhibitor manual was written in British English – same language, but different words.
  • Raised floors everywhere. This floor design element is intended to provide a stage of honor for the visiting guests, and not just a way to hide electric cords with cushy padding.
  • Wall heights were permitted to 4 meters high (13 feet) and no hanging signs.
  • Cubic content rule created closed environments- most with private conference rooms.
  • All exhibits had a bar and served food and drinks.
  • Many varieties of full wall graphic applications, but subtle use of company identity.
  • The World Routes show organizers also scheduled private pre-arranged meetings. This method for meetings proved most successful for the many international visitors.
  • The host city provided a large meeting area for all to share and use.

English or English?

Stand dressing Exhibit design
Build Up Exhibit set up
Freight Lifting Freight Handling
Shell Scheme System rental from contractor
Collections Removal of materials from hall
Stand Fitting Exhibit materials for installation
Chalets Non Exhibit meeting rooms
SPI (Stand Plan Inspection) Exhibit Design approval
PCB (Permission to Commence Build) Engineering approval
Complex and Non Complex Stand construction Simple exhibit vs. custom exhibit

Many of the stands at the Routes show were designed and managed by international exhibit suppliers who partnered with American suppliers. During the show I met with a number of fellow IFES members. Justin Hawes of Scan Display from South Africa attended the Routes show to get fully familiar with the event as it will be held in South Africa next year.

Coffee was served at the Amsterdam booth.
Coffee was served at the Amsterdam booth.

I also met with Mr. Krill Pavlosky (formerly from Moscow) now employed with von Hagen Design in Germany. Pavlosky managed four different stands – three from Russia, and one from the U.S. Three Russian airports entrusted Pavlosky to carry out their stand design and construction on a turnkey basis. Each exhibit included an exhibit attraction and an inviting reception area.

Germany-based Von Hagen Design built a stand for Detroit metro Airport at World Routes 2014.
Germany-based Von Hagen Design built a stand for Detroit Metro Airport at World Routes 2014.

Von Hagen Design also won a bid against five U.S. suppliers to build a stand for the Detroit Metro Airport.

“Krill Pavlosky/ von Hagen Design, was the only company to propose an exhibit design beyond the norm and within the budget we set,” said Joe Cambron, director of air service development, Detroit Metro. “The exhibit design incorporated a mural backdrop and real car frames to serve as a reception desk and seating areas. The exhibit was clearly Detroit!”

With international tradeshows comes international competition for exhibit design from around the globe. The world marketplace is here and growing.

Why did it take so long for American car makers to match the quality and price of competitors abroad in the ‘90s? Today, auto design tends to copy each other and few cars sold are lemons. They have all figured a way to provide acceptable quality at an affordable price to satisfy the end users. The same will be true for international exhibit design.


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