Trade Shows: Ten Things that Happen Behind the Scenes Before the Show Opens

Trade show booths are like a giant set of Legos, and like the iconic building blocks, when assembled these 3D creations can be awe-inspiring and thought provoking brand statements. But what happens behind the scenes to bring these ideas to life? Eric Troy pulls back the curtain to reveal how it all comes together.

1. How is a booth design decided?

Coordination and conversation between the exhibit house and client must take place before a design can be decided. The client describes aspects of the booth they would like to a project manager, who then relays those ideas to the 3D design team.

The 3D designers then create a computer rendered image of the booth and discusses the concept with the engineering department. This is where the imagination of the booth designer meets the practicality of the engineering department. The engineering department helps narrow down design features that are impractical or that simply cannot be created.

Following this, the design can be brought to the client for review. If they are satisfied, then the booth can be brought to life!

2. What makes up the structure of a booth?

The structure of a booth is largely made up of hollow wood panels. While some booths are exceedingly large, they are nothing more than many smaller parts brought together. These panels range in size to accommodate any booth design and can be made of flexible substrates to allow curved panels, and thus, curved walls.

3. If booths are made of wooden panels, why isnt there always wood seen?

Plastic laminate is what is seen on the surface of the booth (unless it has had vinyl graphics or other objects adhered or affixed to its surface). Plastic laminate can be textured or smooth, and comes in a nearly unlimited selection of patterns and colors. After a panel has been built, both it and the back of the plastic laminate are sprayed with contact cement and joined together.

4. How are panels held together?

Although there are exceptions, two essential parts for the joining of panels are rotolocks and a combination of wing nuts and carriage bolts.

Rotolocks are a two part fastening system installed on the thick side of a panel. Adjacent panels will have different rotolock components. One will have a male rotolock and the other a female. When the male rotolock is turned it extends and interlocks with the female, thus binding the two panels together.

Carriage bolts are set in predetermined locations where holes have been drilled at equal measurements. Once the carriage bolt has passed through both panels, a wing nut is threaded onto it, bringing the two panels together.

5. How are arches put in elevated locations?

Some booth configurations boast large arches. Raising these arches into position with man power alone is simply not possible, so how do assemblers get that archway in proper position?

Fork trucks are used to raise the arch into position until fasteners that join the arch and supporting walls are put into place. If the arch is very large, two fork trucks may have to raise the arch into position by lifting the arch at an even rate.

Eisai 13812_ASCO_IMG_2778-050317

6. How do booths acquire color?

Though there are many ways a booth can achieve its colorful appearance, vinyl graphics are a vital element  in achieving this task. Vinyl graphics can be categorized into two general types. Cut graphics and printed graphics.

Cut graphics come on rolls in nearly any color and size.

Printed graphics are custom creations that can be adorned with company names, logos and catchphrases, but the possibilities of images printed on the vinyl are nearly endless.

7. How are vinyl graphics applied?

20170518_143001.jpgOnce the booth’s structural components have been built and assembled, the graphics can be applied.

Vinyl graphics are made up of two sides. One with the image or color that shows on the booth, and the other with a thin layer of adhesive. Transfer paper is attached to the adhesive side of the vinyl graphic.

Vinyl graphic applicators start by marking the location the vinyl will be applied. After this has been determined, they tape the vinyl  as close to where it will be applied as possible. Next, they peel back the transfer paper, exposing the adhesive.  Graphic applicators work from the center of their desired vinyl location outward, adhering the vinyl to the surface. This allows them to remove air that may have come between the graphic and the surface by pushing it toward – and eventually out of – the edges of the graphic.

8. How is a trade show booth transported?

Crates are storage containers for the pieces that comprise an exhibit and serve as storage containers for the booth when the exhibit is not on the road. Typically, crates are moved with a fork truck into the trailer of an eighteen wheeler which delivers the booth to its destination.

9. How are items in crates kept from moving during transportation?

Crates are fabricated to accommodate each component of a booth. To do this, jig sticks are installed in specific locations inside the crate. Jig sticks are pieces of plywood wrapped in a thick foam that prevent movement of booth components held inside. If improperly installed, the contents of the crates can move, hitting other items and damaging the contents of the crate.

Properly jigged crates are essential for the longevity of a booth’s life.

10.How are exhibit components accounted for after a show?

When a newly made booth is ready to be disassembled and the crates have been properly jigged, workers create a content list for each crate. These lists are very involved and account for every piece of the booth down to the nuts and bolts.

When the booth has been returned to its resting location, workers inspect the content of each crate, and cross reference them with the list to see if any parts are missing or damaged.



Standing Desks: The Benefits

Standing desks have been gaining popularity in the workplace in recent years but what could motivate so many people to give up that nice cushy office chair? Below are five benefits of standing desks that have motivated many to make the transition from sitting to standing in the office.

1.Reduced back pain and improved posture

It’s all too easy to slouch in the comfort of our office chairs, but this improper posture can inflict a multitude of harmful effects on the body. Back pain is distracting and can be distressing. It detracts from our ability to focus on the task at hand. When properly adjusted, standing desks minimize the opportunity for slouching that is ever-present while occupying an office chair. This can greatly reduce back and neck pain for standing desk users.


Slouching can lead to back pain and, even worse, health issues.

2. Increased energy throughout the day

Who isn’t looking for ways to increase their energy levels in the workplace? In a study called the “Take-a-Stand Project“, workers using standing desks reported a decrease in fatigue when compared to those using conventional sitting position desks. The increased energy levels reported by standing desk users returned to normal levels upon return to a sitting position. Don’t let the participants of this study be the only beneficiaries, save the money on that break-time coffee and give a standing desk a try!



3. Improved mood

Studies have shown that sedentary time is directly linked to anxiety and depression. Keeping active, in itself, improves our mental state. This alongside the benefits of reducing back pain and higher energy levels surely give standing desk users a reason to smile.

4. Increased calorie burning

When we keep our bodies in a sitting position, they burn fewer calories. A standing desk can keep our bodies active and although the amount of calories burned can vary between individuals, it is proven that active bodies burn more calories than those which are sedentary.

5. Increased productivity

A concern some have with standing desks is that they will detract from a worker’s focus on the task at hand. On the contrary, with improved mood, reduced back-pain, and higher energy levels, focusing on the task at hand becomes much easier. Reducing bodily distractions allow workers to perform at the best of their ability and has a good chance of increasing workplace productivity.


Increase your productivity with a standing desk.

By Eric Troy


Ten Minutes with MedDevice Innovator, Richard Paxman

Richard Paxman is CEO of Paxman Scalp Cooling, a British medical device firm pioneering innovative approaches to combat and prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia. Inspired by his passionate approach to healthcare, our Director, Business Development Dawn Marie Raczka, HMCC invited him to tell her about his story. 

Dawn Marie Raczka: I know this is a family owned company; can you tell us how the firm came about?

Richard Paxman: Back in the early 90’s, my mom was diagnosed with quite advanced breast cancer; she was only 34 years of age. She had four young children, I was only 10 years old at the time in fact, and she wasn’t given a very good prognosis. One of her biggest concerns was her hair, she had beautiful curly blonde hair. She was offered a scalp cooling treatment that could potentially stop her hair from falling out. So she decided to give it a go, very positive- at this point she hadn’t really got upset or cried. She was determined she was going to beat it. But three weeks after her first chemotherapy treatment, her hair started to fall out. That was the first time she was visibly upset.


Paxman’s innovative scalp cooling system reduces the hair loss that occurs as a result of chemotherapy.

Seeing how devastating this was for my mother, the family started to try to understand why didn’t it work for her. We had expected that it could work, so why didn’t it work? My dad took the lead, but his interest went beyond a medical product; his family had a long history of refrigeration, and back in the 1950s my grandfather invented a beer cooler. Taking the knowledge of cooling technology, Dad, along with his brothers, started looking at developing a scalp cooling system that could do the same and improve what is currently out there. And that’s where it all began.

DMR: Tell us more about your history once the company launched. 

RP: We launched our first prototype into the market in 1997, and it trialed at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary where my mom was treated initially. We also installed a number of systems in the places like the Christie, which is a very well-known cancer center in Manchester.

A venture capital firm invested in the business around 2000-2001, gaining us greater traction in more markets across the UK. This allowed my dad to spend some more time with my mom, seeing how she was getting unwell again. She had managed to get through her first five years of cancer, but when it came back again, it came with a vengeance. Unfortunately, this time it wouldn’t go away and she eventually died back in 2000. That created a reason to be even more passionate about what we are doing, and as of today we are in about 25 markets actively, and have about two and a half thousand installations around the world.


Scalp Cooling

Chemotherapy can leave the scalp irritated and overheated. Paxman has developed technology to combat this.

DMR: What an emotional story, leading to a thriving business that does good. So, is this growth due to just yourself going to different hospitals and medical centers, or do you have a sales force?

RP: There are only twenty of us, from sales and marketing to manufacturing. But there is a lot of passion in power in that group! I have held the position of Chief Operating Officer since 2012, and I am also responsible for the international activity of our business. Back in 2010, the focus was on creating new export markets and trying to grow our export, but now exports equate to 50% of our business turnover. Our major focus over the last 3-4 years in terms of growth is the U.S., that is the number one market, and second to that is the Japanese market.

Another important consideration is access to stronger clinical data as well as a real shift in attitudes in the clinicians. Supportive care is  incredibly important, and we are seeing more and more medical professionals understanding it’s not only the cancer we need to treat, but also the patient holistically.

Managing all side effects of that patient is critical. If the patient is living longer, we need to make sure that quality of life has really improved. This new approach has been really beneficial to us as a business, and ultimately beneficial to the patient.

DMR: So where, did it all come from? What is the history of scalp cooling?

RP: Scalp cooling has been around for about 40-50 years. Historically, patients used ice packs and then in the 80s, gel caps were developed similar to the ice gel that you put in the freezer at home. Unfortunately, there is a lot of negativity towards that type of scalp cooling, and in my own experience if it’s not done correctly, there is no control in temperature and therefore it is not effective.

In addition to that, the actual nursing requirements and workload is very, very intensive. Usually, this type of scalp cooling equipment needs to be changed every 20-30 minutes. That means you get very extreme cold temperatures, it warms up and then you change it again. So, really not pleasant for the patient and really not pleasant for the nursing staff.

DMR: You are anticipating FDA approval here in the U.S. to be sometime in the spring. Is that still on par?

RP: Back in December 2016, we submitted for clearance with the FDA. It went then for substantive review quite soon after its submission, which was positive. We now have had our first feedback from the FDA with what they call deficiencies and therefore asking for additional information. This is very normal. So we will work on these deficiencies in the coming few days or few weeks and then it will go back in to final review. We are still on target for the first half of 2017 to – hopefully – have FDA clearance. I’d like to think by June we will be starting to put our first machines in the U.S., but that’s dependent on a number of things.


The company anticipates FDA clearance before the end of 2017.

DMR: That is hopeful! Back to your personal involvement; was your plan always to join the family business, or did you have other ideas? 

RP: My intention was to never work with the family business, that’s not because I wasn’t interested in it, but I always had other ideas of doing something different, probably working for a larger corporate business and which when I was younger seemed more interesting. Originally, I went to Manchester University to study business, and planned to go traveling around the world once I graduated. When I finished uni’, dad asked if I was interested in working with the family for a bit to save up some money to allow me to go on my adventures.

As I started working for the family business and really began to understand its dynamics, I decided not to go traveling. It’s a decision I don’t regret, and  although I may have not wanted to work for a family business when I was younger, I could not have wished for a better and more satisfying job role. Ever. I get to meet some wonderful people, travel the world, and most importantly we really make a difference to patients which is incredibly special.

Whitworth Hall, University of Manchester

Richard Paxman originally studied Business at the University of Manchester and never expected to join the family business.

DMR: What type of charity work does Paxman do?

RP: We are involved mainly in local charities, including the Huddersfield Town Foundation. We support them financially on a monthly basis, which provides breakfast for children at school who may or may not otherwise have breakfast in the morning. We’ve been doing that for the last few years and we also volunteer every Thursday, so we go into schools to actually provide these breakfasts.

We also support Forget Me Not Trust which is for young children who may have illnesses, may not have very long to live, have very rare diseases and other such devastating circumstances. Recently, I was asked to join as an ambassador for The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust, which is a teenage and young adult’s cancer charity that provides support and help for teenagers going through cancer treatment.


Paxman is involved with a number of charities, including the Huddersfield Town Foundation, Walk the Walk and Forget Me Not Trust


Five Benefits to a Rental Booth

Custom designs are always the most popular option, but how can you still make a significant impact on the exhibit floor without busting the bank? The answer is a rental booth, and these five benefits highlight just how effective rental solutions can be.

1) Ease of entry into the world of trade shows

A  trade show booth can be an expensive endeavor. The initial investment can be intimidating especially to those who have yet to experience the benefits of trade shows.

Rental booths come in at a fraction of the cost of their custom counterparts, allowing your company to invest those precious marketing dollars in other avenues.


Rental booths are a great way to experience firsthand the benefits that being an exhibitor brings.

2) Increased flexibility of booth

For companies considering investing in a custom booth, but are on the fence regarding design, rental booths offer an exciting opportunity to mix and match.

Rental booths allow companies to experiment with their graphic and structural design to see which version performs best on the road.


The ability to test-run various portions of booth design enables investors to fine tune their exhibit and simultaneously gain experience in the world of trade shows.

3) Quicker and easier process

Rental booths are partially  comprised of prefabricated  components which simplifies booth construction and  allows a faster production rate than that of a booth made from scratch.

This expedited process could make the difference of being an attraction or an attendant at the tradeshow just around the bend.


Rental vs. custom. Difficult to distinguish!

4) Capture all show related costs

When the show is over do you want to continue paying for your booth? An owner of a custom booth has to pay storage,  repair, refurbish and eventually, disposal fees when their booth comes back to its resting location.

A rental booth comes with none of those pesky month to month costs, once the show is over, so too is your financial commitment to it.


Rental booths allows room in your marketing budget for other projects.

5) Solve overlapping show problems

Trade shows at different locations can often occur simultaneously.  For companies who have an existing custom booth and an active trade show presence, this is a predicament that arises far too often.

It begs the question, “Which show should our brand be represented at?” A rental booth could be the perfect remedy for conflicting trade show schedules, allowing your brand to attend two trade shows at once AND keep you within budget.

InfoBionics: Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Sessions 2016, San Francisco, CA.

A rental exhibit allows the flexibility to attend more than one show simultaneously.

By Eric Troy

Five Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Exhibit House

Trade show programs are big investments for companies and they come with an element of risk. Be sure you choose the right partner to work with by asking these key questions before pulling the trigger. 

Who will you be working with?

Companies will often have a “pitch team” which handles initial dealings with new clients. When a client’s business has been assured and work begins, often a separate account manager will take over instead of the familiar face you came to trust in your initial dealings. Don’t get left without a friend.


There’s nothing better than working with friendly faces!

Does the exhibit company design and build their exhibits in house? And, are graphics designed and produced in house?

As at BlueHive, if all designing and production work is done in house, quality screening is under the manufacturer’s control every step of the way. This allows for production guarantees across the entire process, as well as an opportunity to save money but cutting-out white labelled vendor costs.

Do they provide onsite representatives at the show?

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s never guaranteed. Knowing the company  you partner with will be supervising  setup and teardown services ensures quality assembly and disassembly through familiarity with the product.


Ensure you use an exhibit house that provides on-the-road support.

Do they provide turn-key show services?

Turn key show services include booking and ordering of freight, labor, onsite services, rigging of banners, electrical and a/v needs. These components are integral to a successful show and need to be included in your planning.

What warehousing and storage services do they offer?

After the trade show, your booth will  be disassembled and stored until your next outing. Depending on your outing locations, remote warehouses can save your budget being eaten-up by shipping costs. Make sure you don’t pay for the mistakes of an ill-prepared exhibit house.


BlueHive has secure storage locations across the country.

How Successful is Your Product Theater?

Product theaters are certainly not new to the mix when considering marketing opportunities available at most tradeshows, including those tradeshows in the healthcare segment of the exhibits industry, as Jackie Beaulieu explains.

If you aren’t familiar, product theaters are dedicated engagement areas that provide a learning opportunity to reach a targeted audience, such as clinicians or HCPs. Quality time and meaningful discussions are the hopeful outcomes of producing a product theater. And while many organizations have sponsored a product theater, success is not a given. Some product theaters are successful and some, not so much.


Product theatres provide a learning opportunity to reach a targeted audience.

As someone that has seen both first-hand, I can tell you that in my experience, the first step to success is to read up and ask questions on the association’s rules and regulations related to its product theater offering. Each association structures its rules differently, so it is not always a “one size fits all” product. Ask questions and make the exhibits manager your best friend. Word of warning, not having a comprehensive understanding the rules can make for a costly and unsuccessful venture.

The most obvious difference is that some associations market, register, promote and provide all the operational logistics, while other associations do not. Many associations essentially offer the meeting space and leave the rest for the sponsoring organization to coordinate and arrange. So be sure to find out well in advance what is required to be successful so there is ample time to prepare and promote the product theater to the desired target audience. While a product theater can be an extension of your exhibiting efforts, it will typically require similar efforts to those of a successful exhibit booth. Set goals, pre-market, create educational content, scan badges, and complete follow-up. Again, a bit simplified, but it demonstrates and highlights many of the very same tasks necessary to produce a successful exhibit booth program.


A product theater is an extension of your exhibit program and requires similar efforts to ensure success. 

Product theaters are an ideal environment for education in a variety of formats. Depending on the needs of the sponsoring company, product theaters allow for company representatives, researchers or designees to discuss patient educational issues, research, products or to conduct demonstrations. All must have prior approval and availability is usually a first-come, first serve basis, typically available during the day during unopposed hours. Limited availability can make planning and applying for space in a timely fashion, an important part of securing a product theater.

Another important facet to consider are the marketing and promotional materials, both of which must follow the association’s rules as well. Most associations clearly state in the prospectus that all marketing and promotional materials produced by the sponsoring organization include a statement related to continuing education, as well as language that states the association does not endorse the product theater or anything that is related to it in an official capacity. Be sure all of these types of materials are approved prior to printing, and distributed through approved marketing opportunities designated by the association. In other words, read the prospectus and when in doubt, be sure to ask. What a costly and embarrassing mistake to find out at the last minute that a rule has been broken and materials can’t be used.

As alluded to earlier, a product theater is similar to the production of a successful exhibit booth. So it would make sense that additional items to consider related to a product theater are pre-show promotion, signage, speakers, audio visual, meals and lead retrieval. Each of these categories may need different requirements based on the association. Be sure to incorporate each into your overall plan for success. And, if you are giving away a meal, be sure to scan the badges so that CMS Open Payments requirements can be met.

The most important piece of advice is to determine if a product theater will provide the best forum to assist your company in reaching its predetermined goals. When that has been established, read the prospectus and ask questions. Don’t make assumptions. A product theater is an investment and usually includes very specific criteria set forth by the association. So while it is important to work with vendor partners that understand the unique needs of healthcare exhibitors, it is also vital to remember that when there are doubts…ASK! Be sure, either you or your vendor partner develop a strong relationship with the exhibits manager and make them your new best friend…that is a true investment that will pay dividends!

How to Attract and -Importantly – Retain Millennials

Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers, and Millennials all face one challenge; the differing views, values, and outlooks characteristic of each generation and how to effectively communicate between them. However, while generations past enjoyed the ability to disconnect, the world inhabited by Millennials has broken down all the boundaries of conversation, learning and, perhaps most significantly, business. Eric Troy explains how the workplace is evolving to incorporate the ideas of a new generation, and what you can do to keep these valuable young minds close.

In 2014, thirty six percent of the workforce consisted of millennial employees. By 2020, this will have risen to fifty percent, while by 2030, an anticipated seventy-five percent of the workplace will be comprised of individuals born between 1982 and 1996. It is an inevitable future. Just as the Traditionalist generation passed the reins to the Baby Boomers, and they to Generation X, so too must the Millennials learn from their predecessors, and vice-versa.

You want the best the Millennial generation has to offer, but in order to attract and retain those shining representatives you must first ask a question:

What do they want?

Millennials see the workplace as more than simply a means to an end. They want to be involved with something bigger than themselves. They want to feel of value to the organization and not like just another cog in the machine.

  • They want to be involved with something bigger than themselves.
  • They want to feel valuable.
  • They want to progress.

How do you do that?

Show them what your organization does to engage its employees.
Company events where employees of all types congregate are a great way to show this upcoming generation that your company wants its employees to share more memories than their workday trials and tribulations.

These events show that there are open lines of communication between all employees, not just immediate co-workers. They help create a more cohesive and less daunting work environment which appeals to the team-oriented, collaborative views of Millennials.


Millennials are collaborative and team-oriented.

Inform them of training and development opportunities
Millennials are always looking toward the future and how they will shape it. They have grown-up in a time of immense technological advancement, and have had to constantly adapt their minds to keep up with each new form technology has taken. This makes Millennials keen and continuous learners that not only thirst for new information, but thrive on it.

Be sure to make apparent the opportunities for further training and advancement your company offers to its employees. Let them know that you are willing to invest in their skills and that employment in your company isn’t just a way to pay the bills. It’s a place where they can better themselves and strive toward future goals.

Allow them to be casual (within reason)
According to the Society for Human Resources Management 2015 Employee Benefits Survey, 62 percent of organizations allowed casually dress once a week, while 36 percent allowed it every day. Why? Physical comfort creates a more welcoming workplace, and Millennials prefer an environment where suits and ties are replaced by jeans and fashionable gym shoes.

However, disciplined mindsets are also important for a successful business, so be sure to implement boundaries. No flip-flops and pyjama pants!

Mix It Up
Variety is the spice of life, and as Steelcase reports, it’s not just a Millennial thing. People of all generations crave informal, casual and authentic spaces at work. Inspiring, breakout spaces can benefit the holistic well being of workers while helping to promote employee engagement. Add the occasional day when employees can work from home, and you’ll be right up there with the most desirable businesses. Oh, and don’t forget… free food. A few $10 pizzas can go a long way!


Inspiring spaces, like the BlueHive lunch room, create holistic wellbeing, as well as encouraging community.