Are you thinking about expanding your exhibiting schedule to include European shows?  Europe hosts some of the biggest trade shows in the world, with 15.7 million sqm of display space and 499 dedicated exhibition venues. 45% of all exhibitions worldwide take place in Europe.

You may already have a presence in Europe, in which case exhibiting will give you a chance to meet up with clients or resellers, see local industry developments and make new connections.  Or if you are trying to expand your business into Europe, exhibiting is a fantastic opportunity to get exposure in the local market and gain new customers.

The biggest shows attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, so the potential rewards are great.  But the cost of exhibiting in Europe will be higher due to logistics, flights and hotels so you need to make sure you get it right.

As well as coping with a potential language barrier, if you are exhibiting in another country you will need to be familiar with local rules, regulations and customs.  So what is the best way to navigate these?  Is it better to use a UK based exhibition stand builder with European experience, or a local one who will know the market well?  Here we have some tips to help you decide.

Using an Exhibition Stand Builder in Europe for European Shows

Benefits of using a European exhibition stand builder

It may seem an obvious choice to opt for a company that is familiar with the local market.  A local contractor will:

  • Speak the local language – therefore they can make all the necessary arrangements, understand the exhibiting manual and fill in all the required forms. If your contractor doesn’t speak the local language it may miss some vital information or not provide the correct details to the show organiser.
  • Be familiar with rules and regulations of the country – this is important if you are trying to launch yourself into a new market, familiarity with what is required is vital.
  • Be used to exhibiting in the country – there may be different processes to follow, a local contractor will be familiar with everything.
  • Know the exhibition halls – in the same way that a UK contractor knows the NEC or London Excel inside out, they will be familiar with the halls in their country.
  • Mean lower logistical costs – your stand will not have to be transported abroad so travel costs will be lower.

Drawbacks of using a European contractor

You could however encounter problems when employing a local contractor, such as:

  • Language barrier – although a local contractor may speak English to a certain extent, communicating through a complex design process to arrange your stand may cause problems. It may be difficult to communicate exactly what you are looking for and there may be issues with your design as a result.  You won’t be able to meet in person which may also hinder communication.
  • You won’t be able to see your completed stand until the actual show – photos of it will not demonstrate its quality, you may not be happy with the end result after a significant investment.
  • Issue resolution – if you aren’t happy with the end result it may be difficult to resolve this, you won’t be familiar with local laws so solving disputes may prove challenging.
  • Lower economies of scale – if you plan to exhibit in the UK, unless you are going to exhibit several times in a European country, having your stand made and stored by a local contractor will be wasteful as it will need to be shipped to the UK to use here, or you will have to source another.
  • Clash of business culture – they may have different ways of conducting business in another country which could cause problems in communication and progress. It may be difficult to get exactly what you want.

Using an Exhibition Stand Builder from the UK for European Shows

Benefits of using a UK-based contractor

The larger exhibition contractors in the UK will have plenty of experience in exhibiting in Europe, using one of them will bring the following benefits:

  • Ease of communication – no issues with a language barrier or differences in business culture and practices.
  • See examples of their work – you can see the quality of the stands they produce before you place an order.
  • See your finished stand – you will be able to view your stand pre-built before the exhibition.
  • Economies of scale – you can re-use your stand for multiple exhibitions in the UK as well as abroad.
  • Ease of issue resolution – you will know exactly where you stand if there is a problem. You will be working under UK law.
  • Easier to visit – it’s beneficial to visit your exhibition stand contractor before making a commitment, so you can see the quality of their work, business and facilities.

Drawbacks of using a UK-based contractor

However by using a UK-based contractor you may have the following issues:

  • Increased logistical costs – your stand will need to be transported abroad which will bring costs and time incurred.
  • Temporary import paperwork will be required – The ATA Carnet, often referred to as the “Passport for goods”, is an international customs document that permits the tax-free and duty-free temporary export and import of non-perishable goods for up to one year.
  • Language barrier on site – the employees of your contractor may not speak the local language which could lead to problems with set up and challenges when filling in the required forms.
  • They will be less familiar with the European halls and exhibiting practices.

Our advice

So there are benefits and drawbacks of both using a local contractor and a UK based exhibiting contractor.  Our advice for when exhibiting in Europe is to pick a contractor who:

  • Will pre-build your stand in the UK – you need to see exactly what you are getting before the actual show.
  • Will supply you with a fully re-useable, modular exhibition stand that will be stored in the UK, otherwise you will face shipping costs to exhibit here or have to source another stand.
  • Has extensive European experience – they need to be aware of local rules, regulations and customs.
  • Has their own fleet of vehicles – if your stand is sent as freight it could get lost or damaged. Your contractor should transport it themselves, it should never be out of their control.
  • Will sort out the ATA Carnet paperwork for you.
  • Has staff that can speak the local language to overcome any language barrier. Here at Quadrant2Design we have staff who are fully bi-lingual in French, German and Spanish so there won’t be communication issues.

To discuss your European exhibiting requirements with one of our team, call us on 01202 723 500 or email