An introduction to the three types of exhibition stand

Custom Stands (also known as bespoke)

Ball-park figure: £15000+

The custom stands will always be the most physically impressive and will naturally attract the most visitors. They are tall, and wide, they have high walls, lots of angles, and a massive logo.

The purpose of the custom-build stand is to get noticed by as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

For big companies, this makes sense. Buy the biggest stand, make the biggest impact, reinforce your brand’s power, make lots of sales, and go home.

Custom stands will dominate space, and are (usually) of the highest quality. They can have space ‘inside’ the stand, seating areas, or even a stage from which a demonstration/seminar can be delivered.

Custom stands act as landmarks at an exhibition – that’s how imposing and impactful they can be. They can be seen from far away and occupy the most valuable spaces in an exhibition hall (the spaces cost money, too).

Having the best stand and the best stage doesn’t come cheap. Custom stands are usually served for companies with worldwide reputations and a lot of cash in the bank.

Your custom build is probably a one-night-only deal; it is difficult to repeatedly knock down and build up these structures without causing serious damage to the structure.

Your investment will be large and probably disproportionate to your sales. On the flipside, just having your brand seen at the exhibition will have positive long-term repercussions. Your brand’s goodwill will be re-established and this immaterial benefit should not be underestimated.

It is naturally the highest-risk solution for exhibition stands, but the chances are that you’ll only have a custom stand if you’re a big, reputable business who can afford this risk in the first place. If you’re a small business, a custom stand is not a good idea.

Modular Stands

Ball park figure: £3000-£15000

Modular stands inhabit the middle-ground of exhibiting. They’re not cheap, but they’re not expensive. They’re not huge, but they’re not small. They’re not infinitely ambitious, but they’re not totally inflexible.

Modular stands are a sensible choice for most exhibiting companies. When budgets are limited and stand spaces are smaller, the aim is to maximise your ROI. Modular stands usually allow you to showcase your brand and your product or service without emptying your pockets.

Within the category of modular stands there is a spectrum of different systems one can use. They all differ in levels of the quality of stand they can deliver. Obviously the more expensive solutions are better – they offer panoramic graphics, curved walls, product display space, and plasma screens, while the cheaper systems offer limited graphics and inflexible shapes.

The best modular stands (such as the Prestige Events System) toe the line between custom and modular – where the stand is scientifically modular but aesthetically custom, while the cheapest systems resemble pop-up stands or have very limited aesthetic capabilities.

Modular stands also lend themselves to fewer external costs like transport and installation. The best systems can be compacted into small spaces and can even be built by the user.

Budgetary requirements are more important with modular stands than with custom stands. For this reason, many people who use modular stands are happy to hear that the systems can be reused and reconfigured to fit different stand spaces.

This means that you can use your stand over and over again with little to no trouble, subsidising all your costs along the way.

Modular stands have the best benefit/risk ratio. Furthermore, the best systems offer companies a range of advantages you won’t find anywhere else.

Pop up stands

Ball park figure: £500-£3000

The final option for exhibitors is the pop up (and also banner stands). This is the ‘budget’ option, aimed primarily at first-time exhibitors and companies with little-to-no budget.

Pop-up stands often consist of small, simple modular frames to which graphics are attached. They get across your company’s name and logo as cheaply as possible and take up little room in ‘shell scheme’ spaces (where your stand space has walls and a ceiling).

They involve minimum risk and solid ROI. Pop-up stands are easy to transport and set up, like modular stands.

Unfortunately, they limit you in terms of imagination and ambition while exhibiting. Having said that, if you could afford these things, you’d be doing them! Don’t let the pop-up stand scare you off, though. It does its job and still looks professional, it just doesn’t offer you as many features.

Beyond the necessary graphics, pop-ups cannot integrate plasma screens, product showcase spaces or fully curved walls. This is what makes them cheaper and safer than modular stands.

However, this is not necessarily a problem. The people manning your stand can still have examples of the product and relevant brochures, so it is not like having a pop-up stand leaves you chasing competitors.

You’ll also find that pop-up stands usually occupy small stand spaces on the peripheries of an exhibition hall, where traffic is lighter and the need to make an impact smaller, so there may be no need for the technology.

You get what you pay for at an exhibition. A small space at the edge of the hall, plus a stand, may end up costing less than the average modular stand on its own – so you can be sure that you will save money this way.

But don’t expect the amount of leads that bigger companies will obtain. Pop-up stands encompass ‘pragmatic’ exhibiting and often serves as a money-saver as opposed to a lead-generator.

 

Overall

Custom stands:

  • Most expensive, high risk;
  • But generate the most leads;
  • Imposing, and show off your brand;
  • Hard to re-use, a one-time investment;
  • Aimed at big companies with deep pockets

Modular stands:

  • The ‘middle’ option, the safe bet;
  • Generates leads, attention and traffic;
  • Vast range of prices and quality;
  • But the best solutions offer many impressive features;
  • Fewer external costs;

Pop-up stands:

  • Cheapest option and low risk;
  • Ideal for first-time exhibitors or new businesses;
  • Focus on getting necessary branding;
  • Generate least leads and attention;
  • Minimal external costs

Obviously your choice of stand will depend on many factors that only you have answer to. Rest assured that your choice of exhibition stand will impact your performance at a show and will be a worthwhile investment to those who take exhibiting seriously. By choosing the right exhibition stand you will be able to focus on other objectives at your show safe in the knowledge that you have already completed one of your goals. Exhibitions are serious, as are exhibitions stands, and should be treated as such, so make your decisions carefully.