Corporate Trade Shows: USA v/s Europe a World of a Difference

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Trade show booths, modular display systems, exhibit rental systems and portable stands
in the USA and how they are drastically different from their european counterparts.

USA prides itself for being different from the rest of the world in many aspects, corporate trade shows and trade show booth designs are no exception. European exhibition grounds are filled with customized booth designs and USA fairgrounds see the use of modular display systems. This article explores the fundamental differences between trade exhibitions in USA v/s Europe.


How is the exhibitions market in the USA different from
Exhibiting in Europe – Things to consider!

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Exploring international markets to exhibit can be a tricky process and quite a different one. Show organizers of different markets set very specific rules, regulations, requirements, measurements, timing, number of days, style, culture and logistics. Hence, before expanding your reach into new markets, it becomes really important to study it. Because, corporate trade shows are a sure element in any brand’s marketing mix; brands need to know different exhibition markets across the globe function. Especially trade shows in the USA and in Europe. 



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Important points about corporate trade shows
in the USA compared to the world

1. The Scale of Trade Exhibitions in the USA

The market potential is very high as compared to the European countries if we put into spotlight the size of the market. The country is simply enormous and considering the distance from New York to Las Vegas over 2500 miles, the cost of transportation results to be much higher. In USA, it’s not surprising for a company to have an event every few weeks, may it be a major trade exhibition or a small conference. On the other hand, a European company having even 10 events annually is considered rather busy.

Once you have a clear picture of the scale in mind, the other factors become much easier to understand. From the design of the stands, the labor used to build it, to even the financial aspect. Everything has a very different proposition for the rest of the world when it comes to Exhibiting in USA.

While there are countless of differences, ranging from flooring to technical aspect, there are some fundamental points to follow stateside.

2. The Purpose of Choosing to Participate in a Corporate Trade Show

In the USA, the main objective of the exhibitors is building relationships, expanding network and spreading awareness through promotion. Meetings are crisp and quick, involving exchange of important contact and company info. When compared to USA, the aim for exhibiting in Europe is more sales oriented. Meetings delve deeper into insightful conversations pushing for sales, usually taking more time.

This purpose affects the trade show booth design greatly. This is the reason why Europe sees customized booths which have multiple meeting rooms and many lounges. However, USA adopts simple exhibit rental systems or modular display stands that serve the purpose of branding the company. If long meetings are to be held, then the exhibitor books meeting rooms that are provided by the trade exhibition organiser and are placed alongside the hall of the trade fair. Meeting rooms are seldom integrated into the exhibition booth design.

3. The Cost, The Contractor & The Show Organizer in a Trade Exhibition in the USA

While the exhibition booth designers and contractors design and produce the stand, the installation process is taken forward by the show organizers. Accordingly, the total cost is impacted. The billing is then subjected to the number of hours it takes to build the stand. Modular display stands are the most popular ones when exhibiting in the USA as they reduce the overall cost of installation. Pre-manufactured components ensure easy assembly. Custom trade show exhibits on the other hand require skill and time to install, making them more expensive and sometimes even risky. Due to these manpower costs and material handling costs, exhibiting in the USA is much more expensive than that in Europe. To put it simply, the reason behind this is the process and involvement of multiple suppliers.

In Europe and Asia, there is a one sole supplier contracted who is single-handedly responsible for all stages of exhibition booth design and build.

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4. Drayage Cost Associated with Trade Show Stand Design and Build

In USA, it is usually the show organizer of the corporate trade show who assigns a drayage company for the entering and exiting of stand materials. The cost includes handling and storage of the crates. It mainly depends on the weight of the material and most shows have a fixed minimum charge per shipment.

This starts right from the moment the exhibition booth material enters the site. Drayage is usually levied for –

  • Moving materials from loading dock to the exhibition space
  • Before and after the show – crates movement, storage, and return
  • Movement of repacked goods to the loading dock and loading them on the transportation truck
  • Ancillary services as negotiated by the show owner

These charges are decided and based on a contract between the show management and the general show contractor. Needless to say, exhibit rental systems and modular trade show booths are made with standard light weight materials and hence attract low drayage costs. Custom trade show exhibits are made as per design and hence are generally heavier and less compact. Hence the attract higher drayage costs. 

5. The Exhibition Booth Stands

The most important aspect of the exhibition is the style of the stands and the nature of their construction. There are four common types of exhibition booth stands in the USA: in-line, corner, island and extender header booth.

Stands in the USA tend to be more modular where components are mainly prefabricated off-site, then shipped and assembled on site. This thumb rule in the USA makes the exhibition booth designs much more compact and sleeker to avoid heavy transportation charges.

While the stands are designed and made by the trade show booth design companies, the labor is supplied by the labor contractor appointed by the exhibition organizer. This also results in reusing of components for other shows with average lifespan of a booth in the USA being five years. In contrast to the USA, space design in Europe and Asia are more bespoke and elaborate.

6. System of Measurement and Standard Booth Structures

One very important technical aspect to consider while starting the exhibition booth designing process is that the measurements are in feet and inches. Whereas in Europe it is measured in meters. When it comes to dividing the spaces in the exhibition area and marking the stands, pipes and drapes are primarily used in USA whereas small exhibition booths in Europe are made using the standard octonorm system.

If you are a first time exhibitor in our beautiful USA, or you have been regularly attending corporate trade shows here, you would benefit from budgeting for the show well in advance. USA offers early bird prices for all show services if you book them well in advance. However, if you wait for the last minute or book them onsite the same service can cost upto double the price! It would be prudent to hire an experienced exhibition booth design company who knows the rules and the tricks of the trade. This would save you a lot of money as well as avoid last minute stresses.

If you have any questions then do contact us!

In the meantime, Happy Exhibiting!


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SOL Brand Solutions is a branding and stall design company that designs and builds large-format exhibition stands. We offer a wide selection of exhibition stands, inlcuding custom exhibition stands, portable displays, modular display stands for conventions and conferences, and promotions and activation kits. Wtih offices in Asia, USA, and Europe, we can serve you anywhere in the world with a complex stall design to the activation and promotion display kits.

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SOL Brand Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Phone No: 022-46051520

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