Give trade show-goers something to talk about.

These rental companies did just that at The Special Event 2008 in Atlanta and 2007 in Los Angeles. Their booths wowed the crowds, who voted them the “best of the best.”

PICK AND CHOOSE

Choosing favorites is never fun. The same goes for selecting rental items to feature. “We want to show everything but realize we cannot,” notes Georgia Montgomery, design specialist and product coordinator for BBJ Linen in Skokie, Ill. So BBJ — the winner of 2008's Best Large Booth award — set up its booth to emphasize key styles and various linen sizes, highlighting ways to use the cloth sizes BBJ offers, Montgomery says. While tablecloths, napkins and chair treatments in the booth belonged to BBJ, the team brought in place settings, chairs, tables, floral and a chandelier from outside sources to add extra ambience.

And product placement is just as important as product selection. BBJ aimed for an environment that showcased as much as possible but allowed attendees to comfortably walk through the booth. Montgomery and her team set tables with BBJ's latest products, but to keep the space from getting jam-packed, linen lines that debuted the previous year hung in a display of swatches.

SIT AND STAY A WHILE

Los Angeles-based Classic Party Rentals showcased its one-stop-shop appeal with a display of depth. The booth appealed to show-goers, who honored Classic with the Best Multi Booth award in 2007.

The Classic team aimed to make the booth inviting, according to Michael Miner, vice president of marketing and strategic accounts. “Our lounge furniture provided our guests a comfortable place to sit down and talk about business or anything else,” he notes. In addition to lounge furniture, Classic highlighted tabletop items, tenting and a full array of chair styles.

Classic's business relationships were on display too, with the booth's inclusion of Chameleon Chairs, Unique Tabletop Rentals products and Velon Designs' items. To help attendees envision the products in event settings, Classic played a DVD loop showing images of events using Classic products.

ORDER IN CORT

Las Vegas-based Cort Event Furnishings opted for gloss and style for its booth, winner of 2008's Best Overall Appearance. To set the stage for its new products, Cort brought in a raised, high-gloss black floor “that created a mirror-like effect,” according to director of sales and marketing Dave Flory. New product lines for 2008 furthered the chic, elegant look with the Cort convertible Oz sofa and matching chair/ottoman, convertible Ray chair/ottoman, Sally stool/table, Barcelona chair, Jam barstools and a martini bar. But not everything was available for rent right that minute — Cort also included a lamp prototype. “Prototype items allow us to receive feedback from clients and help us set our future direction based upon needs in the marketplace,” Flory notes.

Cort also extended its brand beyond the booth itself. “Our booth was strategically located next to the performance stage lounge, which Cort sponsored,” Flory says. Cort used the lounge space for presenting new products as well. And many employees at the trade show did their part by wearing branded Cort apparel, which emphasized the company's “capacity to offer service on a large scale,” Flory notes. Cort also capitalized on advertising. “The Cort plan included print media in show publications and periodicals, advertising on the show Web site, as well as electronic messaging to targeted prospects,” Flory notes.

Of course, there's always one thing you'd do differently. Cort will look for alternatives to the booth's expensive truss work next time. Not that the expense hurt the bottom line: The company received 360 leads at the show and attributes $21,049 in sales to The Special Event, Flory says.


Look for more tips on product displays with next month's “Rental Essentials,” featuring vignettes and tabletops.

RESOURCES

BBJ Linen
800/592-2804
www.bbjlinen.com

Classic Party Rentals
310/966-4900
www.classicpartyrentals.com

Cort Event Furnishings
888/CORT YES (267-8937)
www.cortevents.com