Bling My Booth

Ten ways to tell if your exhibitors need training

Written by Susan Ratliff on April 22nd, 2009. Posted in exhibitor training

Are you a show producer or meeting professional in charge of organizing a tradeshow as part of your convention or sales meeting?  You might be frustrated by some of the common errors exhibitor make on the show floor.  In addition their mistakes can have a detrimental effect on the image of your event.  Below are a few red flags that indicate your tradeshow exhibitors need training.  Some solutions follow



·        The staff sits down in the booth during the show.


·        More that three people are working at the same time in a 10’ x 10’ booth.


·        No one is qualifying prospects or capturing contact information.


·        Each sales person is using a different sales pitch.


·        The display is poorly designed and unprofessional looking.


·        It takes more than three seconds to figure out who the exhibiting company is and what they do.


·        Display signage and graphics are too wordy, too small or too cheap.


·        The booth appears cluttered, crowded or poorly merchandized.


·        There are no lights illuminating the exhibit, products or graphics.


·        Exhiibitors complain to management about their results.





·        Use in-house staff to train your exhibitors on exhibit marketing techniques.


·        Hire a trainer to take the burden off your staff and add value to your event.  A third party trainer gives your program more credibility.  Hearing instructions from an outside source gives the lessons more validity.


·        Give exhibitors an actual book or list of books that will teach them how to exhibit better.


·        Provide training tools and tip sheets on your website or in email communications.


·        Hire a speaker to present a tele-seminar before the event.     Susan @Susan Ratliff      602-437-3634

New display products

Written by Susan Ratliff on March 26th, 2009. Posted in Uncategorized

I just returned from Las Vegas after attending the Exhibitor Show.  This is the tradeshow for the tradeshow industry where the display product manufacturers show their wares.  As a distributor, I look for new innovations in the industry and meet with my suppliers and manufacturers to reinforce relationships and talk shop.   I also have the opportunity to check out the products my competitors sell so I know what I am up against when my prospects are shopping around.  It is always interesting to see who is entering into this industry.  There are many new manufacturers from overseas trying to enter the marketplace.  The problem is that there are very few new ideas.  Most of  these company are just reinventing the wheel, so to speak. They have the same exhibit styles the major players have, but lack the quality and service.  Unfortunately many of my clients and prospects are faced with budget cuts so the price becomes king. This is why aligning with a few of the economy brands is advisable.  I did find a couple cool things.  One was a backlight system consisting of a rollable panel with tube lights that backlight any mural panel on a pop up.  The key here is that it fits any pop up frame. I actually took advantage of their “show special” and bought one right on the spot.  Show specials will close sales on the show floor so be sure to include an offer for your proucts or services at your next show.   I also saw a pretty neat collapsable literature stand that when opened up had a little table on the top to put a lead box or product sample.  I am very proud to represent some of the best manufacturers in the country.  To get a good sampling of the types of high quality, brand name exhibit materials Exhibit Experts represents you can visit the websites of my favorite suppliers.  We offer the best bannerstands on the market from Expand International,  Our high quality displays and innovative designs come from Featherlite.  For fabric table covers and banners we wouldn’t use anyone else but Radius Display Products.  We also sell a variety of products from Globotech  and Orbus.    These fine manufacturers have help my company stay on top of our game for fifteen years.

Keep America Meeting

Written by Susan Ratliff on March 21st, 2009. Posted in Uncategorized

Is anyone as ticked off as I am about the radical attacks being made on the meetings and events industry by uninformed goverment representatives and wildly exagerating media types?  I am happy to see that the tradeshow, meeting and event professionals are lining up with heavy ammunition for this fight.  How is it that so called experts have no clue about the enormous economic impact a meeting, convention or tradeshow has on the ecomony of every state in this country?  The tradeshow and exhibition industry generates over 120 billion dollar a year and impacts many areas of commerce like transportation, travel,  florists, hospitality, speakers, premium providers, food and beverage and the list goes on.  Join the conversation and demonstrate your outrage and sign the petition of support at today

Home Shows- Incredible exposure to buyers

Written by Susan Ratliff on March 16th, 2009. Posted in Uncategorized

I had a fun time  in Fresno California a week ago when I spoke to the exhibitors at the Fresno Home & Garden Show produced by Julie and Otis Geistlinger,  They also produce a Home improvement and remodeling & redecorating show.  This delightful couple have been hosting their events for 23 years and do one heck of a job bringing hundreds of vendors together with thousands of customers.  Over 600 exhibitors displayed their wares to over 25,000 people that weekend.  I flew in the day before my presentation so I could walk the floor and personally introduce myself and invite the business owners to my seminar.  Many had been looking forward to my arrival, others had missed the memo and the rest thought they already knew everything.  The first thing I do when I get on stage is to compliment the seminar attendees for taking the time to attend my training.  Out of hundreds of exhibitors, they are the businesses who want to learn and grow.  Believe me, no matter how many years someone has exhibited in a show it does not mean they know it all.  That was evident by the number of companies  represented by a cockeyed vinyl banner  falling off the back wall of their booth and the countless booth staffers sitting, reading or eating while customers walked by.  The biggest compliment I can receive is when a veteran exhibitor stops by after my class to tell me they were skeptical about coming, but actually picked up some really good tips.  I love when that happens and it does happen nearly every seminar.  I was listening to a trainer speak recently and he talked about practicing your craft.  He reminded us of the saying “Practice makes perfect”  and told us that was not true.  It’s perfect practice that makes perfect!  This is so applicable to home show exhibitors (and most exhibitors, for that matter).  Few have ever been given a sales strategy or script to use at the booth.  Rarely do booth staff receive a list of goals to accomplish beyond selling or getting leads.  The problem is that they’ve repeated the same bad behaviors, activities and designs at their booth for years so they figure they know what they are doing because they do get some leads and close some sales.  With 25,000 people coming by, let’s hope so.  However, they have no idea how many more leads they could get or how many more sales they could close if they actually had some training.  That’s why I’ m here.  If you’d like to learn about the five key elements that can turn your exhibit booth into a powerful profit center, look me up. or

Simple tips for saving money during installation

Written by Susan Ratliff on March 1st, 2009. Posted in Uncategorized

Why is it so hard for exhibiting companies to put a few processes in place that could save them so much time, money and headaches when setting up at a show.  Don’t they know that labor charges are billed in four-hour minimums?  My husband works in the installation and dismantle side of the business. He can put up and take down any brand exhibit from the small tabletop variety to the 50’x50′ custom two-story masterpiece.   When a company is paying $100,000 to send a booth and staff to a three day event you would think that attention would be paid to how the exhibit looks before the show opens.  You’d expect that someone would meet the installers and confirm everthing is correctly in place, but there is rarely a company representative around when the booth is going up.  This would be fine if complete installation instructions were in the shipping cases.  Unfortunately this is rarely the case.  Here is how a lack of instruction and a few mistakes can turn into expensive errors and how to avoid them.  

Let’s say installation begins and there are three sets of graphics delivered with the booth and no way of knowing which set goes on for this show.  The installer is not a mind reader,  so they make a decision based on an old photo in the case. When the salesperson pops in six hours after the booth is put up and discovers that the graphics are incorrect he calls the installer and demands he return and make the change.  This is 9pm at night and the shipping cases are already loaded on the storage truck.  The installer goes to the hall, (this is another 4 hour-minimum at overtime rates),  he finds out that he cannot get into the crates until morning.  He comes back in the morning (another 4 hour mini unless the company is very sympathetic), The cases are way in the front of the 40′ semi which requires a fork lift to unload.  (another charge)  The graphics are located and installed just minutes before the show opens.  That’s if you’re lucky.  Sometimes you don’t make it until after the show opens.  Remember, this was not the labor’s fault.

Simple solution.  Each set of graphics should be labled.  Set A, Set B, Set C for example.  A photo of the booth with each set of graphics should be in the case with clear instructions as to which set gets installed in which city or show.  A photo of the completed booth can do wonders for helping the installers understand how the booth is configured, where counters are set or product displays get positioned.  A simple checklist of parts is also a simple way to avoid errors.  Make the list in triplicate.  One checklist gets marked when the booth goes out, one gets checked when the booth goes up and the third when the booth goes down to insure everything makes it back home.  Your labor people are not mind readers.  Make it easy for them to do a good job for you and save money in the process