Trade Show TalesBlog

Invite Your Clients and Prospects to Free Training

April 15th, 2014 Mel COMMENTS

On April 29, Classic Exhibits will host the “Countdown to Trade Show Success” webinar with trade show marketing expert Marlys Arnold. You have the opportunity to invite your clients and prospects to participate for free, compliments of Classic.

During the webinar, Marlys will feature Classic Exhibits designs and encourage those attending to contact their exhibit house for more design ideas. Here is some suggested promotional wording, along with a link to the webinar registration page:

Countdown to Trade Show Success

Want to maximize opportunities for strategic promotions and lead management for your next show? In this exhibitor webinar, you’ll discover simple steps you can take to significantly increase the return on your exhibiting investment and help guarantee success.

  • Create a buzz prior to the show
  • Design an exhibit that attracts attendees
  • Educate staff on techniques to gather the most qualified leads
  • Avoid the most common booth behavior mistakes

The Exhibit Marketers Café presents “Countdown to Trade Show Success,” a free webinar for exhibitors on April 29. Trade show marketing expert and author, Marlys Arnold, will be sharing simple steps you can take to significantly increase the return on your exhibiting investment and help guarantee success.

To reserve your FREE SEAT at the webinar, go to:

Register now so you don’t miss the chance to learn practical and useful tips from exhibit marketing expert and author Marlys Arnold.

Should you have any questions, contact or

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or


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RFP Certification Program: Word on the Street — April 7th thru April 11th

April 11th, 2014 Kevin 2 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Happy Spring! Hope your first full week of April was a good one. We are as busy as ever at Classic and continue to be very thankful for all the new opportunities.

I wanted to take this week’s blog post to share what I think is one of the BEST PROGRAMS ever developed for the exhibit industry — RFP Certification. It’s proudly brought to you from the Exhibit Designers and Producer Association, an association that Classic Exhibits Inc. is a member and an association that I serve as a Board member.

EDPA RFP Certification Program

Gwen Hill from ExhibitForce and her team of dedicated committee members spent countless hours, days, and months developing a program to answer a “call to action” from the Corporate Exhibitor Community.

The EDPA RFP Certification program seeks to verify that certain items are in existence and that industry standards and best practices are met and adhered to, based on various benchmarks. Research conducted in 2012 with the assistance of Exhibit Surveys to Corporate Exhibitors proved there “was unanimous enthusiasm for the concept of an EDPA ‘Good Housekeeping Seal’ that would prescreen exhibit house vendors on the basis of business integrity and operational practices and capabilities. Such a certification would even be a consideration in RFP and RFQ processes.” In response, the EDPA RFP Certification Program has been developed!

EDPA members in good standing are eligible to apply for certification. If the criteria are satisfied, member companies are certified by IComply, a division of BPA Worldwide (all data submitted is kept CONFIDENTIAL). The certification provides written assurance that the company meets the standards and practices approved by the EDPA. To achieve certification, the member company submits formal documentation along with the application. Once a member receives the EDPA RFP Certification, renewal will be required annually to maintain their status in the EDPA RFP Certification Directory.

The EDPA RFP Certification assures others that the member company adheres to industry standards and best practices. If desired, prior to sending a RFP, corporations can access certified members through the EDPA RFP Certification Directory.


So, what does this mean for you as Classic Distributor? As a manufacturer that DOES NOT sell direct to the Corporate Exhibitor (end users), Classic Exhibits would not qualify to be certified. But, Classic Exhibits Distributors do qualify as the direct sales entity serving the Corporate Exhibitor community. And here are some stats we’ve learned from the EDPA ACCESS meeting in December 2013 and the most recent EXHIBITOR 2014 meeting

  • Average cost for RFP response is $6,300
  • Average RFPs cost is $252,700
  • Wasted average is $42,962
  • Even RFIs cost $3,343
  • 29% of Fortune 500 clients require RFPs, and
  • 52% of procurement for Fortune 500 are part of selection process

Now, we have all been a part of the RFP process. We know that even the “least involved/complex” RFP processes still can involve providing the same information over and over throughout the year to many opportunities you are asked to bid on. The Certification Program solves that problem in large part. For members that qualify and achieve certification, that data about your company that the Corporate Exhibitor client is looking for is captured, culled, and vetted. Meaning that your Certification is your “Good Housekeeping Stamp of Approval” at the beginning of the process. Saving time for the Corporate Exhibitor as well. Providing them with the ability to KNOW that the clients bidding on their project/program already meet the core qualifications they are seeking. Therefore allowing everyone involved to fast-track the process essentially and get to the meaty stuff! Designing and bidding on the client’s desired project/program.

Another way to view this is to think about when, as a business manager or owner, you are asked by a client for terms within the accounting process. As a responsible business manager/owner, you would likely do the necessary credit check on the client’s business. And if that comes back good, then you grant them terms moving forward.

This is not too different from that. The EDPA RFP Certification assures the Corporate Exhibitor Client that a Distributor or Exhibit House is who they present themselves as, that they do in fact provide all the services they say do, and that they do in fact have locations at all the places they list on their website.

For many of you, I can imagine how powerful this could be for you and your business when going into a competitive bid situation, especially if you are coming to the table with your certification in hand when others may not have that level of pre-qualification. You would likely jump to the top of the list in the eyes of the potential client.

Having watched the program develop and seeing firsthand the level of detail, thought, and work put towards making this program what it is, I would strongly suggest that those distributors who frequently complete RFPs at least see if you qualify.

It will prove to be a significant leg up for you and your organization when being considered for new projects/programs in the future

Kudos again to Gwen Hill and her team putting this program together, one that I believe is a benefit to all of us in the Industry and certainly the clients we all proudly serve daily.

For more information, please contact Gwen Hill, EDPA VP of Education, by email at or by phone at (713) 331-3325.

And…if you are not already an EDPA member, but are interested in learning more about EDPA. Call me anytime. I am happy to share with you why I think we need MORE distributors in the ranks of EDPA membership, and why I value Classic’s membership in EDPA so much.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend with your families.

Be well.




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The Experts at the Table: Word on the Street — March 31st thru April 4th

April 5th, 2014 Kevin 1 COMMENT
Experts at the Table

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

So, forgive me if you’ve seen this video after Seth Godin posted it. It quickly went viral. But, it’s just too good not to share in my weekly WOTS.

Have you ever been in this meeting before? And if you have, should I ask, “Have you ever been any of the ‘non-engineers’ depicted in this video?”

I HAVE! More than I like to admit. Our Designers, Project Managers, and Production Manager all are nodding their heads right now and yelling, “Yes He Has!”

Anyway, it’s a bit long. But it’s hilarious. And it points out the need to sometimes take a step back from those brilliant 2 am, sleep-deprived epiphanies and join the real world. :)

Hope you enjoy.

FYI — I have dreams that one day a red line can be drawn with a blue pen. Is that so wrong?

Be well.



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Sour Apple(s): Word on the Street — March 24th thru March 28th

March 30th, 2014 Kevin 1 COMMENT
Sour Apples

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Fuji Me Once. Shame on You.

I have long admired the folks in Cupertino for their innovative thoughts, ideas, product aesthetics, design intuitiveness, etc. Apple is a model in many ways of how marketing and product development should be.

When Apple is attacked by other brands and other brand lovers, I, like others, defend it. Sometimes it’s as simple as using the old phrase, “Look at the scoreboard baby!” meaning the facts don’t lie. Just look at the number of iPhones and iPads sold compared to other brands. The numbers don’t lie. It’s much more than the delectable taste of their Kool-Aid that draws its legion of followers and converts to evangelize their love for Apple. It’s their technology-driven solutions, designed purely for consumers, which match their every need as if the developers were thinking the same thoughts.

I am proud of my Kool-Aid stained upper lip and the following gripe will not change that.

In business, I agree that Apple may not be the best solution for all. Yes, I said it my fellow fruit basket dwellers. But, it’s true. I can defend the business applicability of Apple when needed, but that is not my point in writing this blog post. I only bring it up because the iPad (all generations) have become integral to trade shows and events — driving presentations, lead retrieval, on counters, stands, and handheld sleeves. iPads are EVERYWHERE.

We Love iPads

About three years ago, Classic Exhibits targeted this segment aggressively. We are proud of our success as THE iPad Solutions Provider in the Exhibit and Event Industry. No other company has more solutions and no one else engineers iPad Solutions specifically for trade shows and events. We specifically created  plug and play solutions,which meant included cabling in all our kiosks. Cool idea and the kudos we received for that simple add-on have been huge to be frank.

Well rewind to a few months ago. The long awaited and much anticipated iOS7 was released by the Cupertino-clan. As a user, I loved it! There were some little bugs, but they fixed those almost immediately. But overall a huge win from a user interface, aesthetic, and product development standpoint.

All good, right? Well . . . even the shiniest Apples sometimes have a worm in them, or best said, sometimes they are picked a little too early. This apple is a little sour once you take that second or third bite.

This is the sad case with a little known (at the time) hidden firmware change that Apple put into the latest iOS7 updates. Those with Apple devices running the new iOS7 know what I am talking about. Apple programmers updated the code to detect “non-Apple” branded charging cables. So the buzz and frustration all over the web has been, “My phone won’t charge now that I have updated to iOS7″ and “Is my iPad broken? It will no longer charge since the update.”

I am a capitalist, but the answer from Apple was sad to be blunt. Apple’s response was that they were protecting their market share. REALLY? Do you expect the average consumer and business purchaser to really think an 1M or 2M cable is a critical part of your market share? I guess at $19-$29 each (plug not included), which is the price Apple wants for a $.12 cable, maybe it really is a crucial part of your ability to pay your bills.

Anyway, I digress. My business frustration is this — iPad’s RULE the trade show floor market. RULE IT! But when you get out of the United States that is not the case. At EuroShop this past February, we learned that other tablets have an equal if not greater presence on the trade show floor. From a business perspective, as a company that has embraced iPads and their value in our space, this short-sided, money grab by Apple is a stinger to us all.

I admit, the cables we provide are not bought from Apple. They are purchased from a manufacture that certifies them and sells them to many big box stores in the US. They are a safe product that we have chosen to buy in bulk as a benefit to our clients, clients who are buying iPads from Apple to use in our solutions.

Hard Apple Cider

But now, we find ourselves as a business and as consumers stuck with only ONE option for our Apple Juice. That does not sit well with me.  Maybe I am being hypersensitive. But it seems a little stupid and arrogant on the Apple folks part to tell me, “Yes Mr. Loyal Consumer, you do need to explain to your daughter that her Hello Kitty Charger is not authorized.”

Now that I have ranted, what does this mean for Classic Exhibits, the iPad Solutions Leader in the Exhibit Industry? Well, we’re going to be making a separate announcement that the cords may or may not work. So end-users will need to bring their Apple authorized charging cord with them to their show, (which by the way is TOO short), but that we will be including with each unit a USB extension cord that will allow them to extend the length of their Apple authorized cord.

Until, of course, Apple decides that extension cords are critical to paying for Sally and Billie’s dental coverage. Stay tuned.

Hope you have a great weekend with your families.

Be well.



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EXHIBITOR / GlobalShop 2014 Recap: Word on the Street — March 17 thru March 21st

March 22nd, 2014 Kevin 3 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

My nose is bleeding, my eyes are burning, and I am exhausted! Yep, you guessed it, I was in Vegas for the past week. :)

Like many of you, the Classic Team descended on Vegas starting last Friday for both EXHIBITOR Show and GlobalShop. Since we exhibited at both shows, let me break this into two blog posts starting with EXHIBITOR.

EXHIBITOR 2014 was nothing short of spectacular for Classic Exhibits, Classic Rental Solutions, ClassicMODUL, and Eco-Systems Sustainable. I know that sounds a little “sales-ish” to say spectacular, but it really was one of the best, if not THE BEST, EXHIBITOR in my nearly 20 years with Classic.

Our “Sweet Solutions” exhibit was well received and showed WHO we are and WHAT we do. The main structure was a Custom Rental Solutions, a design that was up for an award in the Design Awards this year.

New Products

We were also showing several new products.  The new OTM Furniture debuted at EXHIBITOR. We had the portable tables and chairs in our booth as well as three other exhibits. The response could only be compared to that of the iPad kiosks we debuted two years ago. The OTM Table and Chairs are going to be a big, big hit.

We also introduced the SEGUE VK-1118 SuperNova Backlit Inline. The VK-1118 takes its cue from our very successful Visionary Designs iPhone and iPad inlines, two designs iconic to Classic Exhibits. The difference is the backlighting. While there were many lightboxes at EXHIBITOR, the VK-1118 and the 20 ft. VK-2959 are the only inlines on the market with storage, headers, standoff graphics, large monitor mounts, and accessory options. This is a game changer my friends. Inlines will never be the same going forward.

Across the show floor, we had a great presence of Classic designs. We built exhibits for PRG, EliteXpo, DS&L, Cort, Slim Furniture, and EXHIBITOR Magazine. In addition, there was a Sacagawea, a Magellan Miracle, and an eight year old Visionary Designs VK-1001 hybrid that looked brand new. We appreciate being a part of our key vendor partners look and presentation at EXHIBITOR. Thank you for trusting us with your brands once again.

The mood in the building was inspiring. There was a lot creativity, and a lot of new innovative products and services. As a whole, the industry should be very proud. Well done all. I felt a great sense of pride as I walked the show floor this year. In particular, there was more originality booth to booth and competitor to competitor. Which is not always the case.

There were a few lows, such as companies that would rather COPY than innovate through design. But I won’t dwell too much on that since a few four letter words come to mind that describe these iPad solutions copycats.

EDPA Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit

On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone who attended the Annual EDPA Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit on Tuesday afternoon. I really appreciate the insights by the audience. And a special thanks to the panelists — Greg Beach, Cindi Cody, Maureen Borzachello, Anita Mitzel, and Jocelyn Welles. Your perspectives we invaluable.

I do have a challenge to my fellow competitors in the Portable/Modular/Hybrid segment. So many of you weren’t there. Why? Your perspective and input matters to the growth of our segment, whether you are an F, N, S, O, L, or one of other letters of the alphabet. You had distributors at the meeting . . . but not many of you came. So, hopefully, when we hold our next meeting at EDPA ACCESS, you (and you know who you are) will participate. Special thanks to ExpoDisplays, Octanorm, Highmark, and Classic Exhibits for supporting and participating in the session. Yes, we are competitors, but we are also a community. Don’t let others chart your future and the tone of our segment.

Exhibit Design Awards

The Inaugural Exhibit Design Awards ceremony was held on Tuesday night, an event near and dear to my heart. I could do a blog on just that. What a great event! Special thanks to the entire team from EXHIBITOR Media Group. Especially Randy Acker and John Pavek. I personally appreciate that you took one company’s suggestion, truly listened to it, and then ran with it. I know this event will only grow to be bigger and better over the coming years. But for a first time event, you need to take a bow for a job very well done. Our industry is led by design on all levels, and to spend an evening celebrating the designs that are shaping the industry was a pure joy for me and the team from Classic. Finally, my congratulations to all the winners in all the categories. You have a reason to celebrate.

GlobalShop 2014

GlobalShop 2014 was happening right above EXHIBITOR this year. It ran from Tuesday thru Thursday. GlobalShop is a very different show for Classic. Those who came by to visit our booth can attest. We are a bit of an outlier in that world, but it is a market that continues to grow  for Classic. And we are seeing more and more distributors join us in that world.

The show was great, and since we do not sell direct, we focused on gathering leads for our distributors and finding new Retail Design partners. iPad Solutions, Charging Kiosks, SuperNova Lightboxes, and the new OTM Counter and Chairs were the stars.

That’s all I will say at this point on GlobalShop. Look for a separate blog. I think there are more and more opportunities for us all in that market.


Overall, I want to say thanks to our entire team at Classic Exhibits. This past week provided huge challenges. Two shows to assemble/dismantle. Two booths to staff. Two clienteles to entertain (the easy part :) ) .But as you can imagine, two of everything makes it more difficult at the shop/office. So to those who stayed back and manned the ships — THANK YOU!! We appreciate you covering for us all.

And to the staff that came to Vegas. Thanks again for making me so very proud to be a part of this great organization. We have a terrific family at Classic, and I hear from so many during the events that our “family” atmosphere really shines through at EXHIBITOR.

To all my industry friends and partners, all I can say is I wish we could spend more time together. A busy show means you get less and less time to spend with your partners at the show. But we all agree that’s a good sign for the industry. So let me say this — Our partners are a big part of the success we experience at Classic. Without you and your partnership, we would not be doing as well as we are. So thanks to you all.

Get some rest now that you’re home and more importantly get some quality time your families this weekend. They and you deserve it.

Be well.




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