Previous post: NYIGF SHOW & TELL: INTRO
In typical fashion, we first learned about the NYIGF in November (2011) and the winter edition was happening in 2 months. Bad news, application deadlines had long passed. Good news, we never let that stop us. So we picked up the phone and called, fortunately we're weren't the only one late to the show (bad pun). In the world of commerce, money talks. Big time. We paid all our fees up front and lo and behold, we got a spot.
Pretty risky move when our company has never showed before, we had no booth designs and we had no inventory. We decided that the "pay now, worry later" was our only strategy. Do yourself a favour and search for a calendar of events for shows and their location. Pick the one that makes the more sense for your budget and audience, most of the big ones are in the US and they happen year round. The more research you do up front, the better the results will be for you and your company.
Tip: Most shows have early bird specials that can cut costs down for you. Money that can be better spent elsewhere like paying bills or a gel in-soles for the long days of standing in your booth.
Most shows have different space options, we took the smallest space available 8 x 10'. Our little home away from home would cost us roughly $3500 USD for a small patch of concrete, a couple of chairs and a trash bin. Lights and electricity were extras and would be pre-installed by their team of carpenters and electricians. Everything would be extra, you'll learn this quickly.
Tip: Using masking tape, measure out the actual space on the floor of your home or office. No use spending on extra space that you won't need. Big isn't always better, especially if the space will look empty.
Trade show booth design is an art, a science, a bit of voodoo and lots of wishful thinking. Designing a 3D space in 2D without ever seeing the installation site can be a challenge. With the right budget, a booth can look like intergalactic space vessel or a Swedish lodge—the possibilities are endless. We tend to lean towards a more minimalist aesthetic in general, we took inspiration from a museum or gallery, so everything will be white throughout, allowing the visitors to focus on our designs. White is also an easier colour to match.
The NYIGF provides you with the following amenities with your space rental: used industrial carpet, a waste bin and 2 plastic chairs and a frame of poles. All the exhibitors would be separated by some flimsy sheer curtains. If we didn’t bother “dressing” up our space, the term “ghetto” would be an understatement.
There are a lot of “pop-up” booth display systems out there, but we didn’t want to commit to a hardware and design until we experience a show first. It’s always a good idea to move to your new house, live in it a for bit before you decide on colours for the walls.
We ordered a 6 x 12’ wall to be constructed for us. A bit costly, but it saved us a lot of hassles. It removed for us to think up or order a costly display that we might tire of.
For our booth display and setup, we had the following items:
Tip: Follow the 'Bridesmaids Dress Rule', don't overspend on anything you're only going to use once. Keep all your receipts and return everything you can.
Tip: The NYIGF have online video tutorials and webinars that touch on a myriad of subject matter from logistics to marketing. They are greatly useful for noobies and veterans alike.
We decided to pack our wagon with all the gear and make it a road trip. It saved us flight plus the freight of the goods. A decision that added a lot of road time but lighten the strain on our budget by more than 50%. Even with our Ikea “rentals” that were flat-packed, we needed more room in our car. Instead, of renting a van, we borrowed a car roof storage box. That, along with a couple of tries at strategic car loading worked perfectly.
Tip: Car roof storage boxes can be rented or borrowed instead of buying it brand new, you just need cross bars installed on your car. The add tons of temporary storage space.
Tip: Make sure you fill out all the required paperwork for any merchandise you plan to bring over the border. Failure to do so may result in a hefty fee or a denial of entry.
We are heavy users of hotwire.com, it helped us save about $1000 over the span of the week at a 3-star downtown hotel within walking distance to the show for a rate of $80 per night. Parking was extra at $45 a day, which was a deal considering the lots scattered around. We were there for business, and our working days would long, so cool boutique hotels were not an option. Plus we were in NYC, so we didn’t plan on spending much time in our rooms.
There are similar services, and we have never been disappointed in finding a good room and a great rate. Overall, the decision to drive forced us to coordinate with our car a lot more, but it was really convenient to have a car available for any last minute errands.