By Helen Holzer, Editor-in-Chief
LAS VEGAS – There was a whole new vibe at EXHIBITORLIVE this year. Serenity seemed to be the trend, and throughout the show floor exhibitors strove to make attendees relax.
At this trade show for trade show people, the goal was to take the stress out of attending trade shows, and it worked.
The first booth to catch my attention was Skyline Exhibits, which set the tone for serene, stress-free exhibits with its “Experience Zen” theme. Beautifully lit forest visuals glowed on the wall, while faux grass with a video fish pond and a stone backdrop made this a stand-out booth that would draw attention at any show.
Minutes after EXHIBITORLIVE 2017 opened, I told Brent Reierson, the young designer who created Skyline’s stunning exhibit, that his booth deserved to win for best booth. And it did. About 24 hours later, Skyline took the prize for best large exhibit.
GES also went with the popular theme of taking the stress out of trade shows, stating: “Relax. Refocus. We Got This.” Its booth featured quaking Aspen, bamboo shoots, puffy white clouds moving across the ceiling, and the best freebie on the show floor: hand massages. Visitors left with a mini packet filled with peppermint essential oil, black currant tea and a chocolate truffle. Ahhh.
In keeping with the zen, serenity, stress-free theme, Totally Mod showcased a quiet booth composed of sound-dampening tiles to keep the noise out but let the light in. Walking into the quiet atmosphere from the noisy show floor was a revelation.
Other exhibits went with earth tones, bamboo shoots and various green themes. Although there were still the usual garish booths filled with bright lights, games, magicians, and one memorable ghoul, the outlandish booths seemed outdated compared to the calming influence that was trending this year.
There didn’t seem to be as many attendees as in the past and there were five less rows of exhibitors this year.
Overheard on the show floor:
Costas Varkarotas of Impact XM in Dayton, N.J., said he has to explain to new exhibitors who want a million-dollar booth built in four days that it takes time to develop and build an exhibit. “You want to tell the whole campaign, the whole story.” Norm Frederich of Octanorm in Lithia Springs, Ga., added, “We’re forced to educate clients on how this all happens.”
Rebecca Thompson, most recently with MC2 in Las Vegas, just joined the Canadian exhibit company stevensE3 in its Las Vegas sales office. Cam Stephens reminded me that I wrote a story about his company celebrating its 80th anniversary 10 years ago. Founded in 1927, this is now the London, Ontario firm’s 90th year.
Ran into Tony Helfman, who is back in Las Vegas, working as executive vice president for Tectonics.
A new women’s group has blossomed in the industry. The Association for Women in Events (AWE) now joins Women in Exhibitions to help women discuss industry issues and achieve their career potential. AWE is a nonprofit organization supporting gender equality and diversity in the event industry.
MG Design is putting out the word that it shortened its name to mg (www.simplymg.com). Owner Michael Grivas has always had an innovative take on his award-winning booths for EXHIBITORLIVE. I told him that mg could also easily stand for Mighty Good.
One interactive exhibit had golfers trying out their best swing. The booth for the Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic (RSMGC) had visitors teeing up in front of a virtual golf course screen, which showed where the ball you just hit would have gone on a real course. The annual fall charity event in Atlanta benefits industry members who need medical funding or support.
I had dinner at the opening night reception at Lee Knight’s table. Who knew that buffet-style pulled pork and tater tots could taste so good? Word was that several of the EXHIBITOR staff who just went to EuroShop in Düsseldorf, Germany, became ill and couldn’t work the show in Las Vegas. Besides that, an unexploded World War II bomb was discovered outside the group’s hotel on the morning they were flying home from Germany. Everyone had to evacuate the building, but still managed to make their flight home.
The 29th annual EXHIBITOR show was held March 12-16 (show floor March 13-15) at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Next year’s show is set for Feb. 25-March 1, 2018.