Exhibiting can be a significant investment; you have to pay for your stand, shell scheme, hotel and travel - and that’s before you’ve even thought about furnishings.
If you don’t have much budget left when the time comes around, don’t despair. There are plenty of great value options to help make your money go further. Spend wisely and you can have a stand that looks a million dollars, whatever your budget.
So, what can you do?
Wall and Floor Coverings
With a basic shell scheme package, you’ll receive nothing more than a unit formed from bare, grey metre-wide panels. It’s a total blank canvas, so you’ll need to provide everything to transform it into an attractive stand.
For instant impact, start with the walls - but bear in mind that you’ll need to return the stand in the condition you found it. That means you can’t paint it or make holes in it. You can attach wall hangings with Velcro or, alternatively - if you don’t mind a DIY approach - cover the walls with MDF boards. These can be affixed to the stand with clamps.
With boards you can be completely flexible - paint them, wallpaper them, affix wall stickers or even hang pictures. This can work well if you’re going for a homely feel. Another low-cost way to change the appearance of your shell scheme is fabric. Create a tented look by draping fabric from the ceiling bars or hang curtains at the entrance - great for adding a little privacy. If you’re after a slicker look, you can still have custom-printed graphics on a smaller budget. Free-standing pop-up display stands and hanging banners are an affordable alternative and represent a sensible investment since they can be used again at other events.
Meanwhile, changing the colour of the floor helps to mark out your stand area. Carpet is the cheapest way to cover the floor. Go for something bold like orange or red to grab attention or, to create an outdoors look, opt for artificial grass - another great low-cost option.
If you’re on a budget, it makes sense to hire furniture for your stand rather than buy items that will have to be transported and stored. An exhibition services partner will take care of delivery, removal and on-site support, with one price for up to a week’s use.
You’ll want your stand to look welcoming so having an area where prospects can sit down is a must. A smaller budget needn’t mean you’re restricted to boring classroom-type chairs. You can find striking designs in plastic and a huge range of colours. Choose mix and match rainbow brights to turn heads, pretty pastel shades to create a calm and soothing space, or clear perspex for retro chic.
If you want a more relaxed, casual vibe, opt for comfy seating, like coloured PVC blocks or beanbags. Alternatively, pool your pennies and get a statement sofa to really create a look for your stand - think, for example, of a white three-seater Chesterfield.
Tables can also act as centerpieces. Choose a design made from a natural material, such as wood, with an inviting texture people will want to run their hands over. Or opt for something that fuses different materials like glass and metal, which can be both stylish and good value.
If you have items you need to display, keep costs down by taking a basic 4ft or 6ft utility table and covering it with a cloth and branded table runner. To create a reception area, you can hire an inexpensive bow-fronted counter. Apply an adhesive graphic for a professional look.
For a more heavily branded interior, try custom printed furniture, which is likely less than you might think. The beauty of this kind of furniture is that it’s yours to keep after the show and can be used multiple times. What’s more, it folds flat, so it’s easy to store and transport.
Lighting and AV
Well-placed lights can really bring your stand to life - although you’ll need to make sure you have a plug socket on your stand (usually something you have to pay extra for). Use adjustable spotlights to highlight wall displays or a large free-standing lamp to create a living room-like set.
Hang a pendant lamp over a table to create a focal point or place LED strip lights beneath furniture to give a cool illuminated look. Fairy lights, festoon lighting, Chinese lanterns and imitation candles are also great ways to create ambiance at very little cost.
Another way to bring visual interest to your stand (and increase dwell time) is by incorporating a digital display. Hire an LED screen or save money by bringing a computer monitor from the office (Mac monitors always look stylish). Create a slideshow to serve as eye-catching artwork.
A small budget can still give you big ideas. Use bold colours, lights and large statement pieces to set the overall tone, then accessorise - low-cost but effective set dressings include bowls of fruit, vases of flowers and pot plants. Now you’re looking good!