Global Exhibits: Taking Your Show on the Road—or Across an Ocean. Part One.


Global exhibiting doesn’t have to be deep and mysterious. When you want to develop new markets, traditional boundaries are irrelevant. Global exhibiting, like the global economy, is simply part of the way business is done today. Your exhibit needs to be wherever you want to sell your products and services.

The availability and accessibility of markets has changed. Internet commerce has literally opened the whole world to your offerings, and to tap into markets beyond your own country makes good sense.

The best way to approach building a global program is to start with your domestic exhibit partner as a single point of contact. If you feel your exhibit house doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to help you launch a global program, ask for a recommendation. DIY is not a good idea for so many reasons!

One of the best reasons to work with your domestic exhibit house is the protection of your brand and the way your brand identity and brand promise come alive around the world. Your exhibit house is familiar with what you want and need, and can interface with global affiliates to ensure none of the attributes that accrue to your brand domestically are lost as you expand your reach.

About those global affiliates. Successful programs are generally orchestrated through collaboration between your domestic exhibit house and a trusted regional affiliate. Most North American exhibit houses have a number of solid pre-existing relationships around the world. Remember: when an exhibit house tells you they have a “European partner” or an “Asian partner,” Europe and Asia are continents, not countries. You want to work with a regional affiliate, one that has specific local knowledge in Belarus or Bangkok, for example.

Communicate your expectations for your global program to your domestic exhibit house. Make certain that the following are within their areas of expertise—and those of their preferred affiliates:

  • Exhibit design and fabrication: custom exhibits, rentals, system architecture. Don’t insist on the same materials for your exhibit that you source domestically, and understand there may be a need for some adaptation in your design. You will encounter everything from a variety of carpets to using the entire cubic footprint of your space.
  • Design and production of graphics. Ask whether English is the preferred language—or whether the graphics should be multilingual. Also, consider where you are exhibiting—and if your existing graphics, particularly lifestyle graphics, are suitable for the region.
  • Project and asset management. Many countries build exhibits on the show floor rather than using the model of designing and building in one location, and then transporting the exhibit to the venue where it is set up. Supervising this on-site process is critical, and you may want your regular account person on site. You should also determine how 24/7 access and communication will be facilitated since you are working across time zones.
  • Logistics management. Generally speaking, the best advice is to ship as little as possible. If your company happens to have an office in the region where you are exhibiting, you may be able to use some of their materials.
  • Integrated marketing programs and events, including activities in and out of the booth. Certainly, local catering preferences should be taken into consideration. Explore other in-booth attractions that will resonate with your new market. Your team should learn if there are opportunities available from the organizer as well.

Part two will explore planning in more detail. Meanwhile, make sure your passport is up-to-date!

Does your exhibit marketing plan include global exhibiting? Our free guide, How to Write a Marketing Plan, will help you develop your program, regardless of where your markets take you.