For exhibit and event professionals  

I finally have some money, but now what?

May 9, 2013 By Editor

My budget just came through, and it’s bigger than I’d expected. I don’t have enough money to buy a new exhibit, but I can update the one I have. Where should I start?

— Lena, exhibits manager

Invest wisely for future returns

Lena, with cash finally in hand, you probably want to start updating your exhibit right away. But don’t jump the gun. Spending your money on the right elements can make your exhibit more successful, and that may help you get additional funds in the future.

With this in mind, our readers say:

  • Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.
  • Refurbish, then repackage.
  • Do some “comparative shopping.”

Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water

Since your funds are limited, keep elements you can inexpensively update, and then you’ll have more money to spend on what needs to be replaced.

An exhibits manager details the steps to take.

“First, ask yourself what your primary objectives are with the exhibit and how you want the exhibit to accomplish them. Second, think of ways you can reconfigure and reuse the stuff you already have. By simply updating graphics, getting new laminate colors or purchasing new flooring, you can update an exhibit without spending a lot of money.”

Refurbish, then repackage

Instead of worrying about updating your entire exhibit, first, concentrate on certain aspects of it. Then, use some cash to make transporting the exhibit easier and cheaper.

Nicci Harrell, events coordinator at Siemens, explains how to do this.

“Refurbish the pieces you use most often and then address packaging and shipping. Sometimes, a new crate or crates designed for your most common shipment can make a huge difference in transportation costs. Keep in mind the safety of your pieces, space for miscellaneous pieces and the ease of packaging, unpacking, transportation and access.”

Do some “comparative shopping”

If you’re completely unsure where to begin your redo, studying other exhibits may give you a starting point.

An events manager subscribes to this philosophy.

“Whenever I participate in or go to a show, I take pictures of the exhibits I like and later review them to determine what caught my eye. Then, when I redesign my own exhibit, I have ideas of what I want to do — whether it’s a new fabric, a color that’s trending or something else. If you don’t have pictures like these, go to some event/exhibit websites for inspiration.”


  • Working in a vacuum can be difficult. If Lena has staff members, she should get together with them to discuss possible options. If she’s a one-person department, she could meet with someone from marketing or perhaps talk to a friend who has a flair for design. Even if she doesn’t like any of their suggestions, just bouncing ideas off someone might get her creative juices flowing.

    Have you updated your exhibit lately? What did you change, and why?

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