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Six Exhibiting Errors from CES 2024

There’s no such thing as a mistake, so long as we learn from it. But too often, exhibitors make the same mistakes over and over, either oblivious to their negative effects or hoodwinked into believing these blunders are par for the course when exhibiting on the show floor. In some cases, the errors are merely unsightly blemishes on otherwise beautiful booths. But in other cases, the errors represent missed opportunities or raise concerns about the company’s attention to detail and commitment to quality, which can have negative impacts on brand perception.

 

Let me be clear: This is not an attempt to “booth-shame” brands, nor is it a tongue-in-cheek way of chastising competitors. Everyone makes mistakes, and when it comes to exhibiting, there are always unforeseen circumstances. But any agency worth your business would (or should) agree that these are errors to avoid at all costs — which is why we’re spotlighting them here in hopes of helping you sidestep similar snafus.


Letter Imperfect

The devil’s in the details, even when you’re shelling out millions on an otherwise sensational stand. This exhibitor would have been better served by scraping these vinyl letters off the exhibit altogether. Vinyl application isn’t rocket science, but it’s often done hastily or incorrectly, leaving ripples, bubbles, and distortions that are even more noticeable when ambient lighting reflects off their glossy surface. So take your install team to task over unsightly imperfections in order to ensure attendees see your message, not your mistake.


Bare Back Sides

Both of these booths were undeniable CES standouts, but aside from their impressive entrances, nobody gave much thought to their rear ends. Curb appeal is important, but in an island space, that proverbial curb extends along all four sides. Compared to their exceptionally appointed interiors, these blank walls are comparable eyesores — as well as missed branding and messaging opportunities.


Post-It Problems

The only excuse for having Post-It Notes in your booth is if you’re 3M … or facilitating some sort of tactile dialogue/activity with visitors. This company presumably changed names after having this graphic printed and before the show’s opening day. Regardless, new graphics can be printed and delivered in no time these days. I’m sure this was literally their last resort, and I suppose it’s better than misbranded banner stands. Perhaps they were acquired just days before CES 2024, or their sales rep accidentally packed an old graphic for shipment. It happens. But passersby who don’t stop to hear the story behind the blooper could easily walk on by with an inaccurate perception of the company’s quality, financial stability, and/or attention to detail.


Fabric Faux Pas

Wrinkled fabric is among my personal exhibit pet peeves, and it’s practically omnipresent in low-priced pop-ups with ill-fitting graphics … or table skirts in tiny in-line spaces. But this fabric faux pas was on the back side of an otherwise outstanding exhibit. I guarantee the designer was disappointed with how this tensioned fabric turned out, which is a shame given the unforgettable experience taking place inside these wrinkled walls.


Creative Outlet

I get it. Wire management can be a massive pain in the booth. But this is never the solution. Experienced exhibit designers are masters at incorporating electrical into your space in a way that keeps cords hidden while still accommodating all of your power requirements. Perhaps this exhibitor was trying to cut costs by cobbling together an old design in DIY fashion. Or maybe they were moved from an in-line space to this island one after it was too late to rethink the setup. Regardless, I’m a little surprised that a union electrician or fire marshal didn’t pull the plug on this tangled web before the show even opened. The best way to sidestep this snafu is to build wire management into your layout long before arriving on site. Or, if the primary electrical requirement is powering basic arm lights like the ones in this exhibit, consider cordless, battery-powered options that might slice a little off your show services fees while simultaneously keeping your space cord-free.


Streaming Disservice

Anyone who’s paid to rig a hanging element knows it’s not an inexpensive endeavor. Having said that, it’s often an important piece of owning your slice of the show floor, increasing brand awareness, and making it easy for clients and prospects to find you. Sometimes, however, a hanging sign represents little more than misspent money. For example, this mysteriously mirrored exhibit, with next to no branding, almost entirely obscured the view of its own overhead, hanging sign, rendering the associated fabrication and rigging costs virtually worthless. For this booth, exterior branding would have made infinitely more sense, and the investment could have been redirected from nearly invisible overhead element toward show sponsorships, premium giveaway items, or pre-show promotion instead. If you have money to throw at a project, superfluous spending may not be an issue. But if optimizing your budget is among your objectives, it’s important to consider sightlines, rigging costs, and more cost-effective branding opportunities before defaulting to hanging signage. A rule of thumb: Whenever possible, don’t cut costs on things attendees see. But if attendees can barely see it, you might be better off spending that money elsewhere.

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