For a stand builder the most important part of any stand design is for us to obtain a full and comprehensive brief. When a customer first contacts us about a space they have booked at either a trade or consumer show they have two options, one to send us the brief via post or email or preferably we will attend a meeting where the requirements can be discussed in full and answer any questions regarding the build of the stand in person.
We then begin the process of complimenting the brief with our own experience. This combined experience comes from all our team members during the ’round table’ session which starts off each and every stand. During this session the many different departments of Willow including operations, design and production get the opportunity to present their ideas for the stand and everybody gets a chance to voice their opinion to create a fuller brief that will be passed on to our designers.
Step Two: Design Process
The design process normally takes between 2-3 weeks. During this process a project manager is assigned and 1 or 2 concepts from the round table are created by designers. Although our designers are encouraged to use artistic license they will always still stick to the strict briefing and design budget guidelines. By using this proven winning combination, we get a finished product that is striking, creative and bespoke, as well as being fully practical. Constant communication between project manager and design team ensure each concept is critiqued as it goes. This sometimes results in multiple drafts before the client has even had a chance to see the first design. Each of these concept designs brings the project manager closer to the final presentation draft.
After the final stand design is completed the project manager then makes time and date arrangements for a presentation. This project manager will be with the client every step of the way starting from the very first design concept to handing over the stand ready for the opening of the show. The presentation meeting is very important because not only could it be the first time a project manager is meeting the client but they are also presenting Willow ideas and designs for a stand against other companies.
The face to face presentation meeting will consist of showing the customer numerous photo realistic visuals and scale plans of the proposed stand but also gives the project manager the opportunity to walk the customer through the stand and demonstrate how it achieves objectives set out in the brief. In addition to explaining the chosen design the project manager also answers any questions the clients might have.
Step Three: Project Management
When the client has decided to go ahead with our design and confirmed instruction has been received, their show information is then inputted into our operations system. Our highly skilled operations team are on hand to take responsibility for all the contractor related tasks set out by the show organisers and the online exhibitor manual. Everything from health and safety to checking through the technical guidelines and form filling are done by our dedicated team. This high level of service is given to each and every client, giving them peace of mind and saving them a huge about of time. Our operations system tracks all the dates that are vital to the operations process. Show and build up dates, as well as due dates for services such as electrics, water and rigging. The operations system makes it easier for the Project Manager’s team to plan ahead and ensure everything is on schedule without the client doing anything.
It is very rare the designs that are presented are the final designs for the show. At this stage in the process and following the receipt of any alterations, final plans are prepared and presented. Specifications of AV, furniture, lighting and decorations such as flooring, colour schemes etc. are finalized in these designs. After all the plans have been approved, by both the project manager and the client, they are then sent to the show organisers for approval.
Once approved – production can begin.
Step Four: Stand Build and Installation
Before any production begins a briefing meeting takes place between the project manager, their team, and the workshop. At this meeting detailed working drawings are presented with a full breakdown of stand specifications, explained in a step-by-step manner. The project manager explains how each part of the stand is to be built, giving particular attention to product displays as discussed with the client during the design process. During the design process the project manager would have discussed how the clients want their products or service displayed. This is always a very important part of the stand so it is critical all details are clearly conveyed to the workshop.
Once the production/selection of stand components has begun dimensions for the graphic displays and branding are presented to the client for their designer or Marketing Agency to create final artwork for our in-house graphic production team. Once the artwork has been created the Project Manager orders the photographic quality images and logo’s to be applied to the final stand structure upon completion of the stand build.
When the build-up for the show is near the fully prepared pieces of the stand are loaded onto trucks to be transported to the venue. At this stage we also load any AV or furniture requirements for the show, this maybe from our own stock or from our network of specialist suppliers.
Each part of the stand is fully checked and wrapped before it leaves the warehouse to ensure the build-up runs as smoothly as possible. Our stands are often built up over a three-day period (depending on the show and venue) and each day consists of a different stage of build being completed. The final day of build-up consists of touching up decor and the application of graphics, furniture, AV installation and stand dressing ready for the show opening.
Handover of the stand happens on the last day of build-up. Not only is the project manager there to hand the stand over but they are also there for any last minute questions, problems and for simple peace of mind on behalf of the client. At this stage the clients are able to make final preparations as they wish, perhaps with refreshments, freebies and/or literature.
Step Five: Post Show Debrief
After the show and at the client’s convenience a post-show debrief is scheduled. This meeting is ideally booked within a month of the show due to everything still being fresh. During this meeting not only is the success of the stand evaluated but also aspects such as what would the client change for the next show, what would they keep etc. All of these thoughts go into the notes from the meeting and are used again when it comes time to start planning for the next show.