Busting Green Exhibiting Myths

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success SystemExhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community. Opinions are her own.

Green initiatives in the meetings and trade show industry have expanded in recent years and are now becoming mainstream. Hotels and convention centers are focusing on saving water, energy and waste. Some are even becoming LEED-certified buildings and using that as a selling advantage.

Venues are also offering more robust recycling options so that there won’t be massive quantities of trash left behind after a trade show or event.

But there are still some persistent myths about going green at trade shows, so just like the popular TV show “Mythbusters” we’re going to bust those wide open!

Myth #1: It costs too much to go green.

While this may hold true for a few aspects such as serving organic foods at hospitality events and meals, most of the tactics you can implement will actually save money. For example, following the good-old “3 Rs” of reduce, reuse & recycle typically means reduced cost. By reducing the amount of items in your display, gifts you bring to give away, or materials you hand out, you not only save with lower production costs, but also cheaper shipping. (Plus having less left over means you’re not throwing them away.) Reusing or repurposing items from one exhibit to another also saves on the cost of buying new for each show. And as for recycling, that’s just being a responsible citizen. Don’t throw perfectly good items away simply because you no longer have use for them — help them find a new home instead! Donate leftover giveaway items to local schools, exhibit display items to non-profits, or carpet to organizations that specialize in recycling it.

Myth #2: There aren’t that many options available (or I don’t know where to find them).

Have you really seriously looked? There are many vendors who now offer everything from exhibit displays made of recycled and/or sustainable materials (such as bamboo flooring, fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, etc.) to giveaways made from repurposed materials. Sometimes it’s a vendor who specializes in sustainable products, but you should also ask your usual vendors what options they have available. You might be surprised to discover what you didn’t know was out there!

Myth #3: Even if it may save money, there’s no way to quantify a green initiative to convince my boss.

Oh, but there is! It comes down to documenting all the steps you’ve taken and attaching a dollar value to each. For example, how much did you save on shipping? Or what did switching your lighting to LEDs save in energy costs? Again, talk with your vendors. It’s possible that they have statistics they can share with you to help make your case. Also find out what other exhibitors are doing and what cost savings or other financial impact they’ve seen as a result of their green initiatives.

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success SystemExhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community. Opinions are her own.

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