EVENT GUIDE: Modular Stands - Getting to grips with the modular models

The versatility and design capabilities of today's modular systems are the key reasons why exhibitors plump for this type of stand. Working with modular enables quick and easy re-configuration of a stand to suit any space, which means the same stand can be used time and again and that any last-minute changes can be accommodated.

The kind of display you choose will depend on your requirements, but the following descriptions cover the main categories on the market:

Banner displays: Standalone structures that support a single graphic drop, usually not more than two metres high and one metre wide. These can be used as information points on larger stands, or in a line for a gallery effect to provide a quick and effective way of displaying a graphic message at a relatively low cost.

Pop-ups: Folding structures that expand to form a frame that can carry large-format graphics for high-impact, instant displays. The most common pop-up units are about 2.5 metres wide and two metres high, and take either three or four vertical graphic drops that stick magnetically to the frame.

Advances in large-format graphic technology has had a huge impact on the pop-up market. With more suppliers moving into the market and graphic prices becoming more competitive, the price differential between brands is now very significant.

Panel systems: Work on the principle of flat panels joined together by a connector. Some have clips attached to the panel, which then fit on to a pole providing the hinge when connected to the next panel. Others have hooks that fit into slots cut into metal tubes or in metal or plastic extrusion in the edge of the panel. Most systems are portable as they are designed to be self-assembly but most manufacturers offer a stand-building service.

Seamless systems: Look and feel much like a purpose-built stand while retaining the benefits of a system. Panels fit together with no visible connector to create a very solid appearance. The slightly heavier, larger format panels means these systems are usually less versatile and not self-assembly.

Structural/gantry systems: Metal columns of varying design that join together to make a frame structure for a stand. These structures can be used by themselves, with banners and fabric in-fills, or with purpose-built or modular systems to create height and impact. Most require a contractor to build but have the benefit of structural strength.

Structural modular: Systems designed and built by stand contractors. They usually have heavy metal extrusions giving enough strength for double-decker stands.

Custom modular: Bespoke stand contractors that recognise the benefits of modular systems will sometimes design a stand in modules that can be re-configured for other exhibitions or events.

How to source a supplier

- Short-list four or five companies.

- Visit websites. They provide a lot of product information and present a good means to get information without exposing yourself to sales calls.

- Request further information either over the telephone or via the website.

- Select two or three companies that you wish to take further.

- Arrange for a rep to visit. If you are happy with what you see, present each company with a concise brief from which they can produce a design and quote. Specify if you need workstations or corner displays. It is helpful for suppliers to have a budget to work to and an idea of how flexible they can be with it.

- Many companies have showrooms that display their products. Visiting them means you can see systems in use and find out more about your prospective supplier.

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