Why Buying Cheap Isn’t Always Better

Company appointed exhibit managers spend a lot of time making decisions. Each decision will have an impact and a direct related outcome for that company. One ill-advised wrong decision could result in their company paying a huge price on the show floor based on those wayward actions.

What is important to your companies exhibition participation, what branding to use, what vendor can save you money, how tight is your budget, what is the deadline date…are all factors that make an exhibit manager’s job extremely stressful.  For each decision there are corollary factors and results and one of the biggest is how much things cost. Although budget constraints are a critical decision making component, cost shouldn’t be your top priority in the initial purchase of a Custom Exhibit…quality should!!

Most small businesses or first time exhibitors at a trade show usually have smaller budgets, so they try to cut corners to obtain a needed display product or service. Often these choices to save a little money can have compounded adverse effects that end up blowing the budget. And what follows is a cautionary tale straight from the real world of conventions.

At a recent mega trade show in Las Vegas, our corporate hometown, Las Vegas Expo Complete Show Services had a client who purchased three custom exhibits made from an aluminum extrusion system that looked similar to a name brand product. The client figured the product would work the same as the name brand because it looked the same. Unfortunately they never physically saw the product because it was made overseas and while at show site installing the Island display configuration (the largest of the 3 exhibits purchased on the cheap) the sub-par inferior display showed all its warts with cascading negative impacts.

All three exhibits were unable to stand on their own and support the weight of the fully assembled display and the company’s products.  This failing structural flaw necessitated custom fabricated support pieces produced & installed at show site during setup. The aluminum used in the Bargain priced display was cheaper because there was less metal used in the fabrication of the structural components which made them brittle and incapable of actually holding up the walls.  I know what you are thinking….WOW…that sounds like an exhibiting nightmare and disaster.

Fortunately for the client, our experienced and highly skilled Complete Show Services’ crew, in conjunction with our awesome build carpenters at our shop, were able to improvise a work around that was functional while still keeping the booth aesthetically appealing.  After the show ended, Las Vegas Expo had to overhaul all three exhibits that the client had purchased from the overseas manufacturer at additional costs never factored into the original design, build and show site budget.

Unfortunate decisions can have a damaging effect… It seemed like a good business decision to save a ton of dough by buying a booth from China…..until the first day of setup!  It wasn’t just structural issues that cascaded into an avalanche of show site twists and turns.  Metal main frame components with missing welding seams, defective slat wall panels that were separating from their backing material, misaligned connection holes & defective hardware for those connections were just some of the challenges.  And those were the easiest to fix as the onsite labor became a rapid response task force to reconstruct the booth on the fly so it would actually be use-able.  Items such as the crates the booth were shipped in from overseas were “one-way” packaging and fell apart while opening.   So the company saved money on the initial expenditure of the Exhibit purchase but now had to pay for additional labor hours needed and for Las Vegas Expo to build them new crates in our Fabrication shop (on overtime), incur additional trucking and materials handling charges to get the replacement crates on the show floor so the booth could be shipped out of the hall properly at the close of the exposition.

But wait…there’s still more…..To add insult to injury, all the electrical was based on 220V which is not rated for the United States 120V.  More money was thrown at the problem because all the electrical wiring had to be changed by union electricians at show site (on overtime and double time charges). By the end of the trade show the client was out the original purchase price for the booth made in China in addition to the unplanned for un-budgeted whopping charges that were rung up on site. The decision that looked to save them money actually cost them money; a lesson learned that cheaper isn’t always better.

These lessons sometimes have to be learned but why not avoid them all together? Why hassle with all the extra stress and extra costs by not choosing quality over saving a few dollars right from the start?

Do your research on any product or service you are considering for your company. Find out from others who have used the product or service whether they were happy with it.  Was it worth the money they paid or did they get exactly what they paid for?

Sometimes going a cheaper route might be the only option you have; but always remember, caveat emptor, Let the buyer beware, because in the end you get what you pay for.

If you want a cost effective, creative exhibit environment that installs and dismantles smoothly resulting in a Booth that is inviting to the attendees, give me a call or send me an email:  Michael Carvalho, 3D Design Manager, Las Vegas Expo Complete Show Services, mike@LVExpo.com , 702-248-6200.

Our Complete Show Services team is standing by and ready to assist. If you find yourself with a nightmare scenario on the show floor, call us even faster……like trade show Superheroes, we’ll get you out of a disaster and rescue your display.

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