The Exhibitor Manual – Specialty Furniture

Specialty Furniture is becoming more and more popular at trade shows as the selection increases and prices become more competitive. So let’s take a look at how you can use specialty furniture at your next show.

Wait a minute; I guess we should first define what specialty furniture is. We all know what standard furniture is at a trade show. You have your basic draped tables in 4’, 6’ and 8’ lengths. You have the padded and plastic side chairs and armchairs. Then there are high stools, low settees, round cocktail tables and possibly coffee tables and the occasional end table. Throw in a bag rack, literature holder, sign stand, and rope and stanchion and you have the basic furniture rentals provided by the general contractor who is servicing the show.

Specialty furniture increases the options offered at a show when a general contractor partners with a furniture rental company like Aaron Rents or Cort Furniture Rentals. Now you can have couches, loveseats, and your choice of matching coffee tables, end tables, conference room tables in wood, chrome and a variety of colors. But we have only scratched the surface of what is now available for the exhibitor. Other items include desks, refrigerators, coat racks, credenzas, and accessories like lamps and shelving. Need a full bar? Yes, they have that also.

I see exhibitors using specialty furniture to fill half of a 10 x 20’ booth space with couches and loveseats while the other half displays their exhibit backdrop and equipment. Hospitality is standard practice overseas where specialty furniture plays a big role to create lounges, private or semiprivate, that include full refreshments and drink options. These conference rooms and hospitality areas are the focal point of the exhibit structure as a standard business practice.

So what are the benefits of using specialty furniture?  Let’s list them:

  1. There are no shipping or drayage costs.
  2. The furniture is delivered right to your exhibit space.
  3. The rental charge is for the entire show, not a day rate.
  4. This furniture provides a comfortable and elegant look for entertaining clients.

So how do you get the best deal on specialty furniture? There are two ways to order specialty furniture. The general contractor will offer products from the furniture rental company and display them in the exhibitor manual. The rental company will receive the orders for the general contractor and provide all the labor, delivery and pickup to fill those orders. Your display house can also provide the same service and can possibly do it at a lower cost. Since the general contractor and the display house will mark up the cost charged by the furniture rental company, the size of the markup will determine the better rate. It is also important to note whether there may be a drayage cost imposed by the general contractor if you order through your display house. This may be a deterrent and offset any saving you get from the exhibitor manual or (showkit) rates. You display house will be able to discuss these options with you and the furniture rental company to determine the best overall value when choosing specialty furniture.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.