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New trends and client demands are directing tradeshow-furnishings leaders


There are many choices facing exhibitors when looking to furnish their tradeshow booths, and several firms stand out as the industry standard for providing the latest products and trends impacting the tradeshow industry.

CORT Trade Show & Event Furnishings continues to be the industry leader among tradeshow furnishing rental firms, but the recent merger between AFR Event Furnishings


Cafe-style furnishings are popular among AFR and AGILE clients.

and AGILE Tradeshow & Event Furnishings means tradeshow exhibitors have many options with new products and levels of service. AFR and AGILE announced the merger in January, and it has expanded the reach of each into new areas and gives them a greater capability to engage new customers.

“The merger is going very well. We’re still in the integration and transitional phase, which will take about a year,” said Jose Lopez, president, AGILE. “The feedback has been excellent because of the amount of new locations.”

CORT remains the industry leader, but AGILE and AFR officials are positioning the firms to be an industry leader in customer service. AFR and AGILE remain independent units, and the merger has has expanded the capabilities of each as well as the possibilities for their clients.

“We are looking to become the industry-friendly, customer-centric leader,” said Lopez. “We’re looking for us to be the most customer-friendly.”

While AGILE and AFR are growing, industry kingpin CORT continues providing the latest in tradeshow furnishing trends as well as maintaining traditional standards.

White furnishings help CORT clients present a clean, high-tech look.

White furnishings help present a clean and high-tech look for CORT’s clients.

“White continues to be our most popular color. It’s a clean pallet and conveys high tech,” said Kevin Dana, director of marketing and product development, CORT. “It’s not going to clash, and you can brand around it. White is really in demand more, but black is still big.”

Technology-based companies and pharmaceutical exhibitors are among those who use the white furnishings due to their high-tech ambiance and ability to provide easy branding with company logos and slogans. But while CORT is finding white and black furnishings to be popular, AGILE and AFR customers are going for more vibrant offerings.

“The trend is more of a view on enhanced décor with a lot of color schemes and variation.


Colorful, modular seating make for popular AFR and AGILE rentals.

We try to focus on the energy,” said Lopez. “It’s very ‘neony’ with a lot of neon green and yellow. It’s like they are going back to the late 1970s.”

Café-like settings with café-style chairs and bar stools are popular uses for AGILE and AFR tradeshow clients. And AGILE offers a new line of “silky-backed” bar stools using “strappy” material made of plastic that expands when people sit and lean back.

Among popular rental furnishings for CORT clients are modular furnishings, such as lighted ottomans and end tables. Bar stools equipped with swivels and hydraulic mechanisms for


CORT’s charging shelf for mobile devices is a popular new rental item.

adjusting height also are popular tradeshow furnishings for CORT as are furnishings that can enhance critical face-to-face communications.

“Another big thing is communal tables. They foster networking and collaboration,” said Dana. “Rectangular is the trend. You can stack them end-to-end to make them as long as needed.”

A trend impacting CORT as well as AGILE and AFR is the increased used of mobile devices and tablets in tradeshow booths.

“The evolution of the industry is more presentation products,” said Lopez. “They are used for graphics and brand recognition.”

Both firms offer a variety of presentation stands. And to address the growing trend of using mobile devices and monitors to engage tradeshow attendees as well as reduce the need for printed materials, CORT recently introduced a new line of mobile-tablet stands. The stands are cheaper for smaller exhibitors to use while increasing their ability to engage visitors with product presentations and other marketing devices.

CORT also is receiving many requests from clients for illuminated furnishings to enhance the attendee experience.

“We’re still getting a lot of requests for lighted products in their booths,” said Dana. “We provide lighted ottomans and tables.”

AGILE and AFR also take their cues from their clients, which directly impacts the types of products offered year in and year out.

“It’s the creativeness of exhibit houses and event producers that determine the types of products we carry,” said Lopez. “We are sensitive to our customers’ needs.”

And with the top tradeshow furnishings companies offering an eclectic mix of new and older-style furnishings based on the latest trends and customer needs, the more things change in the tradeshow industry, the more they remain the same for tradeshow furnishing rentals.

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