In June 2020, YES Communications President Kelley Parlier received a phone call she wasn’t expecting. Parlier’s client Aerometals, a company that specializes in the precision machining and manufacturing of aircraft parts, asked her to build a new trade show booth to debut at the 2021 Heli-Expo in New Orleans. As to the company’s goals for the booth, Aerometals gave Parlier one key bit of guidance at the outset: “Blow my mind.”
One of the biggest changes was a switch from a very product-centric booth to a space that would accommodate more networking in socially distanced times. As Lutton explains, “The client makes helicopter parts, and in the past would display a host of different parts in the booth and also have an actual helicopter in the space. They wanted to include plenty of mingling areas in the new booth, and that was challenging with products dominating the space. We also needed to keep social distancing requirements in mind.”
Aerometals’ goals for the new booth differed from the past
The client also wanted to add private meeting rooms to the booth, something their exhibit lacked in the past. “The Heli-Expo show is all about meetings because it serves a global market. Aerometals wanted to add more private, intimate areas to meet inside of the booth space, where they could close deals behind closed doors,” Lutton says.
One goal that didn’t change was ensuring the client’s brand remained front and center. According to Kettles, “What is reflected in the new exhibit is indicative of Aerometals and what they do in their core business, and that’s precision machining and manufacturing of aircraft parts. It’s open, warm and inviting but also reflective of their company roots and what they’ve done for such a long time.”
A touch of film noir, high-tech design and architectural features make the booth stand out
As the design process evolved, the look and feel of the new exhibit took a big step forward from the past. “This client is based in California and loves the high-tech look and clean, sleek lines. The dramatic aspect of this booth was something that was really important to the customer. They also wanted a very sexy, dark blue, classy kind of look. I think we nailed it with the color choices and the laminate colors – everything turned out fantastic,” Parlier says.
Where previous exhibits included a combination of blue, white and a bit of metal, the new design took the blues to a much deeper level, with more brushed metal accents and geometric shapes to give the design a high-tech vibe. Both the laminates and fabric graphics have a brushed metallic look to them.
To check the “dramatic aspect” box, the new booth design features an eye popping dark blue 40’x36’ trapezoidal shaped fabric canopy, along with substantial 10”-square beams and four 18’ columns that anchor the space. A large 18’x12’ video wall for product presentations and live streaming takes center stage in the booth, while interactive TVs on either side of the space bring products to life virtually.
Since the Heli-Expo is known for its social gatherings and flashy press events, TTG and YES made sure the design delivered the open and high-end feel the event demands. Explains Lutton, “The client made a big jump into a sexy exhibit that looks like a page out of a Vogue photo shoot. The booth also offers social distancing capabilities, so it doesn’t feel crowded. It actually feels like an open museum.”
From complex engineering to unique design features, this is “devil is in the details” exhibit design
Those dramatic beams and columns? That was an engineering feat for the record books. Not only did they need to look spectacular, the TTG engineering team had to come up with a solution that was relatively easy for union labor to assemble and structurally sound at the same time.
“We used to shy away from going beyond 12-foot spans but our engineers found a way to thread four 10-foot-long pieces together, and they don’t sag. The result was a fast, functional and correct design that can be assembled pretty easily on a 16’-18’ ladder. We spent twice as much time on engineering for this project as we did for the build,” Lutton says.
A number of other design features make this booth extra special. These include:
- Pocket doors for the meeting rooms.
- Textured faux brick walls in the meeting rooms to add warmth.
- Large, printed fabric murals that can easily be updated between shows.
- Beams in the meeting rooms with modern accent lighting.
- Large, LED-lit, hanging logo sign out front.
- Large, brushed aluminum-laminate hanging signs.
- Custom cabinetry with LED accent lighting and locked storage spaces.
COVID-19 forced remote client previews and final inspection—and some unexpected benefits
Under normal conditions (pre-pandemic), clients would visit TTG’s headquarters to preview and sign off on the completed project. Since the client is based in California and traveling to Texas was challenging during the preview and approval stages, TTG and YES relied on technology—a recorded video preview tour and live inspection via Zoom—so the client could see the exhibit features up close, albeit virtually
TTG produced a detailed video that allowed the client to assess the progress and weigh in on any necessary changes. Once the project was finalized, Parlier and Kettles walked the client through the booth via Zoom videoconference in December 2020 to secure final sign-off on the project.
An unexpected benefit came out of video, which includes both a detailed walk-through of the booth and a time-elapsed recording of the exhibit build in the TTG warehouse. The video can be previewed by I&D labor, which will help expedite the installation process and keep I&D costs in check.
According to Parlier, “YES Communications has been doing booth sales for 15 years, and this was the first time we had to do a Zoom call to have the client accept the booth. The client was extremely happy to be able to walk through every nuance including table and counter placements and measurements on height and size of TV monitors. All of those little details will help us fine-tune the onsite logistics and, quite frankly, keep the price down with the I&D costs associated onsite.”
TTG’S brand-new, full-service HQ simplified the design and fabrication process
In 2020, The Trade Group moved into its new headquarters, with all structural design, engineering, fabrication and printing services operating under one roof. Everyone on the TTG team was excited to work on this project, since the pandemic put most tradeshows and live events on hold.
“Our new facility allows us to offer a lot more options to the client. We created nearly everything for this exhibit at our Grapevine, Texas, facility, which provided a huge mental boost for our team. Having all of those capabilities in-house benefits our clients in many ways, not the least of which are the time and cost savings TTG can provide,” Lutton says.
To learn more about The Trade Group’s exhibit design, engineering and fabrication services, contact us here or call at 800-343-2005.