If you’ve ever exhibited at a show you will know they are a fantastic way of connecting face-to-face with a huge and highly targeted audience. You will also know that it can be a big investment and that after the event huge quantities of material are simply thrown away and end up in landfill.
But it is possible for exhibitions to be both economical and eco-friendly. All it requires is a little planning.
If you exhibit at least once a year, reusable stand components are a prudent investment. With reusable modular or bespoke components, specifically designed to fit together in a number of ways, you can adapt and change your stand for each event without having to re-order an entirely new stand each time.
This cuts down on the amount you throw away at the end of each exhibition, making your activities more eco-friendly. On the financial side, reusable components mean you can invest your marketing budget safe in the knowledge that with a few tweaks, a different layout, and new graphics you can have a completely fresh stand for very little cost.
If you think of your stand as a series of individual modular components, it is easier to design something that can be adapted to each exhibition space. With careful design planning, components can slot together in myriad ways allowing you to keep the overall look and feel of your stand while still achieving something quite spectacular.
As well as cutting down on cost and wastage, planning your stand builds in this way also helps reduce petrol usage and delivery costs. With one stand in the van you can take fewer trips back to your storage location.
Instead of handing out a brochure to every visitor, invite them to scan a QR code that links to an online PDF, or use a tablet or smartphone to send a link straight to their inboxes. Quatreus has developed qbit, a customisable interactive lead capture system that makes it easy to gather contact details and other key information from visitors to your stand.
As well as being more eco-friendly and cutting costs, digital gadgetry at your stand can help draw in a good crowd.
Transport (including fuel) is one of the highest costs for exhibitors. Bulky stands in particular, are often more complicated when it comes to both logistics and set up, and therefore they can increase transport costs considerably every time they are used.
The benefit of modern modular frames is that many of them can be flat-packed, taking up a lot less space for delivery and for storage.
If you can also store your stands at a central location then they can be used by all branches of your organisation — saving on space, fuel and duplication of components. So again, eco-friendly also means wallet friendly.
Some materials are much more environmentally friendly than others. For example, choose low energy items, ones made from recycled and/or recyclable material, locally produced items, ones without toxic finishes and so on.
Many stands use lighting to create eye-catching effects but this can use a lot of electricity, instead create a similar effect by using a combination of low-energy lighting and light-dispersing fabrics — this can look stunning and save you money.
Ask your suppliers if they have a recycling policy and what happens to their waste; ask if they use eco-friendly materials and if not, can they source them for you?; do they have a carbon offset scheme?; what measures have they taken to reduce their CO2 footprint? If your preferred supplier is not as green as you’d like, tell them that you’d like to stay with them, but you need them to improve. Also, ask the event organisers what they are doing to green their event.
If you want to be an environmentally conscientious company and boost your green credentials, then your exhibition stands are a great place to start. A good design and build supplier can work with you to consider things like materials, logistics and design to ensure the most eco-friendly stand possible, without compromising on impact. And as a bonus, in the events business, eco-friendly can mean cost-efficiency too!
Richard Edwards is director of Quatreus.