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6 Tricky Trade Show Display Terms

Posted by Jessica Diers on

I get a little nervous when I have to describe my career. It's the inevitable question that comes up in so many conversations, "What do you do for a living?” When someone asks, I typically fumble my words, get a little flustered and say something like, I sell trade show displays for trade shows. I then quietly mention that I also sell banner stands and feather flag type products. Usually I get a head nod and then we move on. The exhibit industry is tough to explain. My dad, the founder of our company, tried to describe his career to me as a kid and I never quite understood. It wasn’t until I found myself in the business several years ago that I started to get it.

So, what do I do?

There are so many ways to say it. I sell trade show displays. I offer trade show displays. I help design trade show displays. I provide and design trade show displays for a variety of clients and companies. You can call me a trade show display expert. I am also a brand expert. Which means that I have an eye for developing trade show displays for specific brands. Most of my time is spent selling and project managing. My passion is in the partnership. I enjoy the opportunity I get to partner with companies to help them develop a trade show display that exemplifies their brand in a beautiful and captivating way.

Along with being hard to explain, the trade show display industry has a handful of tricky terms we use to describe what we do. Just to be even more confusing we use them interchangeably to describe different products. In my continued attempt to describe what it is I actually do, I came up with 6 tricky trade show display terms. If you have felt overwhelmed or confused by the trade show industry, this list is for you.

Tricky Term #1: Portable

Portable can be used to describe an affordable trade show display product that is also easy (ish) to set up. Portable can also be used to describe small display units; banner stands, pop up displays, outdoor flags, event tents, etc. However, I also use the term to refer to some of our larger displays. For example, I have a handful of companies that exhibit in 10x20 booth spaces and want a portable exhibit. We offer a portable line that I often have my clients peruse when they want something in a smaller budget range. It is tricky though, because a custom booth could be referred to as portable if it is easier to set up. I use the term portable to describe any display that is remotely easy to set up. It is however, all relative to the size, style, and design you are looking to create as a company.

Tricky Term #2: Modular

Modular is used to refer to a trade show display design that is built to be used in different configurations. As an example, a modular 20x20 booth would be designed to break down and used as a 10x20 and 10x10 booth design. Modular can also describe booth accessories. Trade show display counters that are modular can be used in different configurations. When it comes to custom designs, we can build a custom display that is modular. The custom rendering would need to be designed in a way that would break down to meet various size requirements.

Tricky Term #3: Custom

Custom displays are my favorite side of the business. A custom build is a design made specifically for one brand. If a client requests a custom display then we typically develop a concept from scratch or we customize one of our current designs. If we customize a current design, it is still technically custom because most of the elements are changed to reflect the brand. In the trade show display world, the word custom brings to mind a large, bulky, wood build that is extremely heavy and elaborate. While this can be true, sometimes we create custom displays that are portable and modular. Custom means you want your companies design to be unique and you have the budget to get there.

The final 3 terms should be quick and familiar if you have experience exhibiting at a trade show.

Tricky Term #4: Inline

An inline booth is a 10'x10', 10'x20' or a 10'x30' booth space. Inline means the booth space is nestled between two other exhibitors, and there is usually an exhibitor behind the space as well. In an inline booth space you would typically see portable modular displays, but custom displays are also popular in the size spaces.

Tricky Term #5: Peninsula

A peninsula booth space is reserved for 10x20 or 10x30 displays and usually there are only two companies per peninsular space. These spaces include a good mix of modular and custom builds.

Tricky Term #6: Island

An island is a 20’x20’ booth space or larger. Usually an island does not attach to another booth space, and stands alone. Most of the custom builds exhibit in an island booth space, but of course, you will also see portable displays as well.

That's a wrap. I hope these 6 tricky terms provide a bit more clarity on what I do for a living. My passion is in the partnership with my clients. Where I get the opportunity to develop trade show displays that reflect their brand, and are aesthetically pleasing to their prospects. Based on the brand and needs of the company, my display designs can be portable or custom, incorporating modular elements that can be used in inline, peninsula, or island booth spaces.

If you have additional questions, or want me to clarify anything, please contact me any time. I will gladly explain in even more detail. 

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