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  • Larry Kulchawik

A World Trade Show

More and more trade shows held in the U.S. are now international traveling events that are often managed by an international show organizer. As a result, the organization methods, show rules, and exhibit design styles for the shows are different from a typical American trade show. These events are sure not business as usual for the exhibit suppliers assisting their customers on the show floor.

One such show was World Routes 2014, held at McCormick Place in Chicago on Sept. 21-23, 2014. Upon entry to the show hall, it was quickly evident that this event looked a little different. World Routes celebrated its 20th year connecting world airline managers and coordinators to plan and improve world air transportation to new global air routes. Airlines want to know more about the market first and then about the airports. World Routes is hosted in a different world location each year. This year in Chicago, next year in South Africa.

The official show contractor for this U.S. event was Freeman, but the flavor of the show was distinctly different from other American trade show events. Note that American show organizers are also taking their events and methods abroad for shows held internationally. I suspect in due time we will all be borrowing a page from each other to organize and design trade shows the same, but the market will dictate what they prefer.

The theme of my book, “Doing Trade shows from One Country to the Next,” is – there is no right way, there is no wrong way, there is only a different way. Understanding and respecting trade show location differences is key to being successful in different world venue locations.

Here are a few of the differences I saw at the World Routes event in Chicago-

* All stands were in a metric size and not the same cookie cutter shapes.

* The Routes exhibitor manual was written in British English – same language, but different words.

* Raised floors everywhere. This floor design element is intended to provide a stage of honor for the visiting guests, and not just a way to hide electric cords with cushy padding.

* Wall heights were permitted to 4 meters high (13 feet) and no hanging signs.

* Cubic content rule created closed environments- most with private conference rooms.

* All exhibits had a bar and served food and drinks.

* Many varieties of full wall graphic applications, but subtle use of company identity.

* The World Routes show organizers also scheduled private pre-arranged meetings. This method for meetings proved most successful for the many international visitors.

* The host city provided a large meeting area for all to share and use.

World Routes 2014 was held Sept. 20-23, 2014 in Chicago. Event provided a taste of Chicago!

World Routes 2014 was held Sept. 20-23, 2014 in Chicago. Event provided a taste of Chicago!

English or English?

The different Terms used in Europe and America


Stand dressing Exhibit design

Build Up Exhibit set up

Freight Lifting Freight Handling

Shell Scheme System rental from contractor

Collections Removal of materials from hall

Chalets Non exhibit meeting rooms

Stand Fitting Exhibit materials for installation

SPI (Stand Plan Inspection) Exhibit Design approval Engineering approval

Complex & Non Complex Stand construction Simple exhibit vs. custom exhibit

PCB (Permission to Commence Build) Approval/Target Date to begin exhibit set up

Many of the stands at the Routes Show were designed and managed by international exhibit suppliers from around the world who partnered with American suppliers. During the show I met with a number of fellow IFES members. Justin Hawes of Scan Display from South Africa attended the Routes Show to get fully familiar with the event, as it will be held in South Africa next year.

At the event I met with Mr. Krill Pavlosky (previously owned an exhibit company in Moscow) now employed with von Hagen Design in Germany. Pavlosky managed four different stands – three from Russia, and one from the U.S. Three Russian airports entrusted Pavlosky to carry out their stand design and construction on a turnkey basis. Each exhibit included an exhibit attraction and an inviting reception area.

Coffee was served at the Amsterdam booth. Lounge space is so European!

Coffee was served at the Amsterdam booth. Lounge space is so European!

Von Hagen Design/Germany won the bid against five U.S. suppliers to build a stand for the Detroit Metro Airport for this Chicago event.

Germany-based Von Hagen Design built a stand for Detroit Metro Airport at World Routes 2014.

“Krill Pavlosky/ von Hagen Design, was the only company to propose an exhibit design beyond the norm and within the budget we set,” said Joe Cambron, director of Air Service Development/ Detroit Metro. “The exhibit design incorporated a mural backdrop and real car frames to serve as a reception desk and seating areas. The exhibit was clearly Detroit!”

With international style trade shows comes international competition for exhibit design from around the globe. The world marketplace is here and growing.

Why did it take so long for American car makers to match the quality and price of competitors abroad in the ‘90s? Today, auto design tends to copy each other and few cars sold are lemons today. They have all figured a way to provide acceptable quality at an affordable price to satisfy the end users. The same will be true for international exhibit design.

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