Brett Lipeles     Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
"The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge
and the dissemination of truth."

John F. Kennedy
New! Professional Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s Handbook (Digital copy)   An Interview with Brett Lipeles on his Book
Professional Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s

y Gordon Nary

Return to Brett's Webpage

Gordon: Why did you write the Professional Trade Show Exhibit Manager’s Handbook?

Brett:     There was no one stop guide book on how to purchase, design and run an exhibit with a detailed approach to the logistics aspects involved.  I was running a 5000 square foot exhibit from within a company in the Fortune 1000, and had to learn all of the logistics aspects myself.  There are some courses given by Exhibitor, and some articles in various data bases, but no guidebook for the new exhibit manager. 

Also, there are many trade show directors who have lost the “pulse” of exhibit management costs.  In short, if you have been running an exhibit for a long time with the help of an exhibit house, using a turn-key type of approach, you lose track of the un-marked-up costs.  Exhibit managers will say to me that they know they are paying a competitive rate for exhibit labor, but how do they know how long the exhibit should take to put up?  The cost of labor equals rate x number of hours.  Number of hours is important.  The exhibit manager has to observe the project once or twice to understand what is really happening during installation and dismantle. 

Weight.  Weight drives the cost of freight handling, usually the 2nd highest cost after space rental.  Booth weight also affects storage costs between shows.  Depending on carrier, shipping may also be based on exhibit weight.  That makes weight a very important aspect of booth design and construction. 

Trade show related logistics take a lot of experience to plan and run properly. The pre-show planning is the most important part of the project.  Without it, the project cannot run efficiently and a large percentage of trade show marketing budgets are wasted!

 In general exhibit houses give very little thought to pre-show planning.  So my book tries to drive home how important pre-show planning is and get the corporate trade show director involved in this process, so that at future shows, when the director is not involved, the projects run more efficiently without his / her involvement.  

Gordon: Who should read the book?

Brett:     The book is designed to be a how-to guide to help an entry level trade show person to better understand the process of choosing and running an exhibit.  It is written so that knowledge is gained without painful, costly mistakes!

The book is also written to help a senior level trade show person to find the areas within their exhibit related budgets that can be improved.  It is my hope that this senior person will be motivated by the book to take a good look at the exhibit related logistics and their costs and then invest a minimal amount of time to greatly reduce his/her costs.  

Gordon: What should the results be?

Brett:     Depending on the reader’s time availability and motivation, they should be able to eliminate up to 40% of their exhibit related running costs.  Many of these changes require time to complete. By reviewing how their projects are being completed now, what is being paid for related services, and what variables can be modified to greatly reduce these costs, any trade show staff with decision making authority can better decide what parts of their approach should be modified to create the greatest results.  

Gordon:  What initially interested you in tradeshow and event management? 

Brett:      As the youngest new hire at a sporting goods company, I was assigned the task of exhibit coordination.  By the fourth show, I was managing all of the pre-show planning and logistics on my own, and managing exhibit installation and dismantle at the shows for a 20’ x 30’ booth.  I love the process of planning and working with teams of laborers to install and dismantle the exhibits.  There is nothing like seeing a trade show hall empty, and five days later filled with extravagant exhibits….Only to see the whole space empty again 7 days later! 

Gordon:  I  was initially introduced to you from your articles in Exhibit City News, Could you remind our readers of some of the topics of your articles?

Brett:      Scheduling Installation Labor, Scheduling Dismantle Labor, Freight Handling – eliminating extra cost, Hanging Signs - Parts I and II, Shipping Exhibits by Freight Train to lower costs, Emergency Electrical Work, Key Information Not Spelled out by the floor plan, Top 10 Ways to eliminate booth related costs, Exhibit Flameproofing, Choosing Exhibit Size, Carpet: Nylon vs Polyester, Most of the articles are how-tos for lowering cost and increasing efficiency

Gordon:  What prompted you to launch Event and Display Consultants?

Brett:      My background includes being a very hands on exhibit manager…running a 5000 square foot trade show display without the help of an exhibit house.  Later, I was a partner at an exhibit house.  I realized by being a client of and later a partner of an exhibit house that many exhibit houses can build a good exhibit, but most do not run the exhibit well.  Exhibit houses are not structured to run trade show installation and dismantle projects well.  Unfortunately, using an exhibit at a number of shows is much more costly than purchasing the exhibit so it is imperative that your exhibit is run extremely well.  I saw opportunity, and new that I could provide customers with a service of much greater value.  

Gordon:  Could you give us some background about your major accomplishments with Exhibit and Display Consultants? 

Brett:      Helping to grow my clients’ businesses substantially.  I have been able to work with boot strapped companies and help them grow to multi-million dollar companies on several occasions.  I have worked with two companies that met or exceeded 1000% sales growth over a very short time period.

Working with clients to supplement their staff in a seamless manner.  We meet my personal goal in becoming trusted partners for our clientele.

Leading my team to provide some of the best service in the trade show industry and eliminating 30% of our clients’ exhibit related running costs on a consistent basis.

I have been able to author a book and many articles that help exhibitors to run their exhibit better by increasing their skill and knowledge level and making better decisions. 

Gordon:   Please list the top five lessons that you have learned since launching Exhibit and Display Consultants?

Brett:       The most important part of the exhibit installation project happens before any crates are shipped.   

The pre-show logistics plan, which includes time frames for pre-show storage, electrical, rigging, exhibit installation, and freight handling, should be completed 4 weeks or more before the show.  Often, an effective installation and dismantle plan takes as long to create as the total time invested in exhibit installation and dismantle. 

Exhibit prep for next show, begins during the pack-up and dismantle of the current show. 

Notes taken at the current show must be written very clearly so that any exhibit coordinator can work from these notes weeks or months after the notes are written. 

Every installation is different.  Building the new installation and dismantle plan from past projects paperwork will absolutely cost the client extra money. Conditions within each hall are different, and the variables for working at maximum efficiency and lowest cost are different at every show, because the labor members, time available for installation and dismantle, convention center, rules and regulations are always changing.

Gordon:    Do you have any advice for college and university students considering tradeshow and event management as a career?

Brett:        T rade show work is very rewarding if you like project work.  There are definite timelines in all of this work. 

The timelines don’t move, so with the timeline comes pressure.                         

You need to be very good at problem solving in real time.                       

You need to be very detail oriented.  There are a lot of moving pieces with even the smallest face to face presentations and exhibits.

Trade Shows are truly an example of show business…..the show must go on, and everything must look right to provide a strong first and continued, impactful marketing impression!

Gordon:      You have written an essential book for everyone in the Trade Show and Exhibit industry - and not only for Trade Show Exhibit Managers. It should be on the bookshelf of everyone in our industry.

© 2014 by Gordon Nary