1. How big is it?
Pop-up Exhibition stands are usually described in terms of the number of quadrants that make up the framework. Most popups are 3 quadrants high and either 3 or 4 quadrants wide and are therefore referred to as a 3×3 or a 3×4. Alternatively the 3×3 could be referred to as a 3 drop popup and the 3×4 as a 4 drop popup. The stand will usually include end graphic panels that will wrap around the ends of the stand to hide the framework from view; so a 3×3 will actually consist of 5 drops and a 3×4 will have 6 drops.
Variants of this can include table top pop ups which can sit on a demonstration table, 4 quadrant high systems, 5 or 6 quadrant wide systems and even systems that can accommodate variable panel quantities and be curved or flat.
It is important to know the footprint of a stand, so that you can be sure it will fit in the space that you require. The sizes from different manufacturers do vary, so it makes sense to check. Also be aware that so exhibition and event venues do have low ceilings and some of the taller systems may not fit.
Consider, also, who will be assembling the stand as the graphic panels need to be attached from the top of the frame and with most systems being over 2m high it can be challenging for some people.
2. What are the graphics made from?
Generally the industry standard is a plastic substrate with a laminated light-blocking layer so that the frame does not create shadows that are visible from the front if there is strong lighting from behind such as a sunlit window.
The Image is printed onto this substrate using an inkjet technology that may use water-based inks, solvent inks or UV cured inks. Water-based inks tend to give the best vibrancy of colour while the other 2 technologies give greater colour fastness. However you need to ask yourself how long will the graphics be used for; all the methods will last for longer than most companies need it to.
Some companies will apply a scuff resistant laminate over the image to provide protection to the graphics – it is certainly worth checking that this is the case. If a supplier is significantly cheaper than the competition it may be that they are skimping on quality.
3. Where is it manufactured?
As with many products these days most exhibition equipment including popup exhibition stands will be manufactured in China. In recent years the quality of these products has improved dramatically so that there is no longer any significant difference between European or American Manufacture and the Chinese products.
Be careful, however that you buy from a reputable reseller and that the stand you buy this month will be the same type that they are selling next month in case you need a matching product or repairs or spare parts.
4. Is there a warranty or Guarantee?
Some companies offer a limited guarantee some a lifetime guarantee – remember that this will refer to the frame and hardware only and will not cover misuse. The graphics are a consumable and their longevity will depend on the quality of manufacture and how well they are looked after.
A good quality stand with a lifetime guarantee that is well looked after will last for many years.
5. How do the graphic panels attach?
The two methods generally used are known as Magnet to Magnet and Magnet to Metal. Magnet to magnet is precise but relies on the manufacturer being accurate in the manufacture of the graphic panels. Magnet to metal allows for a greater degree of adjustment but by the same token can be fiddly and awkward to position accurately. It does, however have the advantage of making the whole system a little lighter.
6. Does it include Lighting?
Some do, some don’t. Some have ugly floodlights some have pretty halogen lights; best to check. If the stand is going to europe do you require adapters. If it is going to the US it will need a transformer.
Stands definitely look more impressive with lighting but remember it will need to be near a socket – you don’t want to be trailing cables across a hotel lobby!
7. What Kind of Case does it come with?
Most will come with a wheeled moulded case. Some can be converted into a small table that can be used for displaying brochures or taking down prospect details of supporting a portable computer.
You can often purchase an additional graphic that will wrap around the case in order to brand it with with your company details.
8. Would a Different Kind of Exhibition Stand better suit your purpose better?
Pop-up exhibition stands can be impressive but maybe a series of smaller banner stands would better suit your purpose. They are light and easily carried and you can tailor the message to different client/product groups and events.
A recent addition to the market are a series of modular stands that include roll-up graphic panels combined with a shaped metal canopy and frosted acrylic wings. These come with a range of accessories and offer a good transition between pop-up stands and full size modular stands.
9. Who will store it?
If you have a number of stands going to different venues on a regular basis you may want to consider a company that will store and dispatch the stands for you. They may undertake to check and re-pack the stands as they are returned from site so that you can be sure that they remain in good condition and all the components are there when the stand arrives at the venue.
10. How experienced is the company that you are buying from?
There is no substitute for skill and experience when it comes to printing and manufacturing graphic panels for pop-up displays. You don’t want to pay for a great design that is then compromised by poor alignment, dodgy colour matching and badly balanced colour reproduction. Ill-fitting magnetic strips can create ugly gaps between panels. A good supplier will check individual elements for quality and file suitability and will offer advice to maximise positive impact. Poor suppliers will print what they are given and blame the designer or the client when things go wrong.