Exhibition Stands: Hard work has its rewards

Lorraine Francisco talks to prize-winning exhibitors from three top shows about what makes a successful stand.

AUTOSPORT INTERNATIONAL SHOW NEC Birmingham, 13-16 January 2005 Organiser: Haymarket Exhibitions Best space only in aftermarket category: Summit Automotive

RaceX is owned by Summit Automotive, based in Banbury, Oxfordshire. It provides a large range of automotive accessories, touring abroad kits, interior mirrors and blindspot mirrors.

RaceX product manager John Stables says the firm exhibited at the Autosport International Show to promote the relatively new RaceX brand, launched three years ago. He wanted to showcase its wide range of styling accessories "sexy gear knobs" and leather gear gaters.

"It's a massive branding exercise for us," he explains. "We do business with car accessory shop owners and proprietors, and at the show we met Halfords, Motor World and independent store buyers. We also get to the general public. The show is a great opportunity to raise our profile and a great place to launch new ranges."

RaceX hired Exhibitions Solutions to build the 48/50sqm stand six months before the show. Stables says: "We wanted the stand to be bright, innovative and interactive so that people are able to look at and feel the products."

RaceX had promotional staff on the stand and hired a model, packaged as the new face of RaceX, through a company called Grid Models. The firm's own sales and marketing staff were also on hand to answer visitors' queries about the products on show.

Feedback was positive and, according to Stables, "in three days here we see more people then we normally do in three months". RaceX picked up export from retail accessory store buyers and had offers from all over the EU.

The company also had an 11sqm space at the Fletchers Auto Stores stand during Max Power at the NEC from 1-3 July. Additionally, it promotes the brand by holding performance days in its stores.

Stables believes its stand won best space only stand in the aftermarket area as "it was very strong branding - we actually placed our own merchandising stands on there".

Best space only in karting category: HRS

HRS is a motorsport kart retailer with a purpose built showroom and workshop in Sunderland.

This was the first time the six-year-old company had exhibited at the show. It specifically wanted to launch the C05 range of race karts that it imports from the Italian company CRG.

Technica Exhibitions was brought in to help design and build the 49sqm stand.

HRS director Tristram Oman, who came up with the concept for the exhibit, says: "Basically the karts had to be approachable so that people could walk freely on to it without feeling like they weren't allowed to."

Within the stand was a meet and greet facility and a bar area that supplied CRG clothing and merchandise. There was also a secluded area for people who wanted to talk in-depth about the products to HRS staff.

Designing and building the stand required a fast turnaround because the C05 CRG Kart was not ready until early January.

HRS still receives comments about the stand, and orders from the general public have increased.

Oman says HRS won best stand only in the karting area because people "thought it was very inviting and they were able to get to the product without feeling like there was a barrier".

Buoyed by its success, HRS is considering returning to the Autosport International Show next year.

THE BABY SHOW NEC Birmingham, 13-15 May 2005 Organiser: Clarion Events Best space only stand: Center Parcs

Center Parcs chose to exhibit at the Baby Show because it believed visitors would match its own visitor demographic. Center Parcs' PR executive Becky Collin and PR manager Erica Spurrier worked with exhibition firm Amber and Green on the stand's design and installation.

A secluded area offered space to perform pregnancy or scalp massages on visitors as well as face painting for children. Visitors using these facilities were then asked to make a donation to a children's charity.

Visitors could also win a short break to Center Parcs in a free prize draw.

The 36sqm stand, created to convey the range of activities and facilities on offer at the 20 Center Parcs across Europe, was used again at the Holiday and Travel Shows in Manchester (14-16 January) and Glasgow (21-23 January).

It then appeared at the NEC's Destination Show from 4-6 March.

According to Collin it was important that the stand was adaptable to allow the image boards to change with each show. She says feedback at the Baby Show was positive and that a feature that incorporated real logs to show what a Center Parks forest was like became a particular focal point. She adds: "For us, the stand was a huge success, allowing us to meet with hundreds of families expecting their first child and those already with pre-school aged children."

Highly commended space only stand: Baby Einstein

Disney's Baby Einstein, an infant development product manufacturer, chose to exhibit at the show as it felt it was the best baby show in the UK.

Agency Loewybe was entrusted with the design of the 54sqm stand with account director Sarah Trumble put in charge of the project.

The stand was based around the insights of Baby Einstein. Trumble says: "The products are about parent and child having quality time together so we wanted to reflect this in the stand." The exhibit had pod areas where families could enter and experience the Baby Einstein DVDs, and a play area was created so that children and parents could try the products before deciding whether to buy any.

Loewybe also had a sales wall displaying enthusiastic testimonials from parents about the intelligence behind Baby Einstein products, and brand ambassadors were on hand to answer questions from parents.

This was an essential marketing ploy, says Trumble, as "it's very important to keep mums and dads entertained and this was the best sales tool we could have". Feedback was "fantastic" and the stand will be used again at the Baby Show in Olympia in October.

Loewybe will also use parts of the stand at a roadshow which from 6-26 August will visit the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, the Trafford Centre in Manchester and The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, near Bristol.

DAILY MAIL IDEAL HOME SHOW Earls Court, 3-28 March 2005 Organiser: DMG World Media Best over 75sqm only: Natuzzi

Italian leather upholstery manufacturer Natuzzi debuted at the show and was rewarded with the best over 75sqm award for its stand. "The Ideal Home Show is the premier home interest show in the UK and it is an excellent vehicle to help brand our product," says the firm's marketing director, Mike Storey. Its products are distributed via six retail stores and through independent furniture retailers across the country.

The 330sqm stand was designed in-house by a team of architects who create a number of stands every week for furniture shows around the world, including Milan, Cologne and High Point in the United States.

Storey feels the Natuzzi stand stood out from the rest as "it had a very clean lifestyle look and was not too fussy".

Best shell scheme: Underwood Kitchens Underwood Kitchens exhibited at the Ideal Home Show to raise its profile and to demonstrate to potential customers its ability to mix traditional design with contemporary ideas.

The firm's joint managing director Martin Cheel designed and created the 40sqm stand in just eight days during the run-up to the show. The idea was to convey a contemporary look and to show what Underwood Kitchens can do in terms of styling. A group of installers from the company helped Cheel to build the stand.

The exhibit displayed a stunning Bird's Eye Maple kitchen with walnut bead, enhanced emerald black granite worktops, a Wolf range cooker, a Sub Zero American fridge/freezer and two glass-fronted fridges.

Underwood Kitchens joint managing director Jane Cheel says: "It's been extremely hard work but we've had excellent leads and I am confident that these will convert into increased business in the months ahead." The firm had previously exhibited at the Ideal Home Show in 1996. This year it had a display at the Grand Designs Live exhibition from 10-12 June at Excel, and another at the House and Garden Show from 30 June to 3 July at Olympia.

The stands differed at each show, being a mix of traditional and contemporary at the House and Garden Show. At Grand Designs Live, the stand was wholly contemporary and included an island unit called The Wave.

An Underwood spokeswoman says the stand stood out from other kitchen stands at the show as it was "very inviting, light, and you could see different things on all sides. It looked different to the other stands as it had bold items within it. It's better to do one thing very well rather than show too much at once."

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