Offering freebies or giving away food and drinks at a trade show can instantly endear your company and products to your audience. But where will you serve the food and drinks or distribute your freebies? You need a portable counter or bar to make it easy to give stuff away.
Along with providing you with a surface to work on and some space for storage, outdoor trade show counters and bars also give you another opportunity to promote your business. The counters and bars usually feature a printed graphic on the front and sides, so anyone who passes by your display or stops to pick up a snack, drink or freebie, will see and remember what your business is.
What Are Trade Show Counters and Bars?
Trade show bars and counters are usually part of a broader trade show display. Typically, they are portable and easy to set up at the start of an event and take down at the end of the day. The counters or bars are also usually designed for indoor and outdoor use, making them a flexible addition to your trade show display.
Features of Outdoor Trade Show Counters and Bars
Although you’ll find counters and bars in a range of sizes and styles, most have a few elements in common. Some of the design features you can expect to see in a bar or counter include:
- Lightweight materials. Usually, a portable bar or counter is made from a lightweight material, such as plastic or aluminum. The weight of the counter or bar makes it easy to transport and easy to move and adjust as you’re getting the exhibition space set up.
- “Pop-up” design. You don’t want to have to mess with tools or spend hours figuring out how to put together the bar or counter on the day of the event. Fortunately, most outdoor counters and bars have a pop-up design, meaning they don’t require tools for assembly. The design also takes a lot of the guesswork out of putting the counters together.
- Storage area. Whether you’re serving drinks, giving out food or offering fun freebies, you want to have room to stash away the extras. Most counters and bars feature a storage space at the back, usually made up of a shelf or two. Depending on the design, the storage space might zip open and closed, allowing you to keep your extra gear secure.
- Room for graphics. What good is a display counter or bar if it doesn’t give you a chance to show off your company’s logo or get your brand out there? Many bars and counters feature graphic panels on the sides and front, which you can customize with your brand’s graphics. You also have the option of installing a header over the top of the counter or bar so that you can catch people’s attention from a distance.
- Weather resistant. Although you can hope that the weather will be lovely and cooperative during a trade show, especially one that’s outdoors, you might not be so lucky. Fortunately, the materials most counters and bars are made from are designed to resist a bit of rain or other weather.
Additionally, some counters and bars are on wheels, which gives portability a new meaning. You can maneuver a wheeled bar or counter through a trade show or easily reposition it in your exhibition space.
Why Use Portable Outdoor Bars and Counters at Trade Shows?
If you’ve ever been to a trade show, either as an exhibitor or an attendee, then you know that they tend to be crowded, busy affairs. An event that takes place outdoors can be even more challenging than an indoor event since you must contend with the weather as well.
While setting up an outdoor bar or counter won’t let you control nature, it will give you an edge over other exhibitors at a trade show or another event. Here are just a few reasons why it can be worth it to set up a trade show counter or bar:
- Grab people’s attention. Few words make people happier than the word “free.” If you set up a bar or counter with a sign that reads “Free Samples” or “Free Drinks,” you can expect people to flock to your exhibition area. Using a header at the top of your bar or counter will also help to direct people toward your exhibit.
- Boost awareness of your brand. Bars and counters with graphics on the sides and front help keep your brand’s identity top of mind for trade show attendees. A person might be idly passing your exhibit by, see that you’re offering a free drink and decide to stop. While they’re hanging out by your bar, they are likely to note your brand’s name and logo, provided it’s printed on the graphics.
- Create a good impression. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so you want to make sure it’s a great one. With a counter or bar set up, you really have the chance to impress trade show attendees.
- Offer a conversation starter. A bar or counter is a better conversation starter than a “Hello, my name is…” sticker or an “Ask me about…” pin. Why? Because the person who stops by the counter is going to get something out of the interaction. They might think that they aren’t particularly interested in what you have to offer, but once you give them something for free, they will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.
- Serve food and drink with ease. From a practicality standpoint, it makes sense to use a counter or a bar if you plan on serving food or drinks at a trade show. The surface of the counter gives you a place to arrange the free samples and to pour drinks if needed. Meanwhile, the shelving at the back of the bar or counter provides you with space to store any equipment you need or to stash away extra samples.
Types of Trade Show Counters and Trade Show Bars
You have a few options when it comes to the type of counter or bar your brand uses at a trade show. SpeedPro offers three different styles of exhibition counters:
1. Mini Portable Pop-Up Bar
The mini portable pop-up bar measures about three feet high and two feet wide. It has a depth of 20 inches. The frame of the pop-up bar is crafted from sturdy and lightweight aluminum, which makes it a breeze to transport the bar from your office to a trade show and back again. Thanks to the pop-up design of the bar, it is a snap to put together. All you need to do is unfold the legs, then slide the shelving into place at the back of the bar.
Fabric stretches between the legs of the mini bar, creating an enclosed storage area under the countertop. You also have the option of attaching graphics panels to the fabric sides and front.
The mini bar is on wheels, which makes it easy to move about your exhibition space. You can use the wheels to convert the bar into a pushcart or lock them into place to create a stable surface.
2. Large Portable Pop-Up Bar
The large portable pop-up bar is similar to the minibar but offers a larger serving area and more storage space underneath. When assembled, the large bar is about three feet high. It measures about 40 inches wide and 20 inches deep. Since it is slightly bigger than the mini bar, it does weigh a bit more, around 26 pounds.
Like the mini bar, the large pop-up bar is on casters, making it easy to wheel around an exhibition space. The casters also allow you to wheel the cart while it’s folded up, making it a breeze to get from your vehicle to the exhibit area in a convention center.
3. Campaign Counter
While the large and mini pop-up bars are made from aluminum, the campaign counter is made from lightweight plastic. Although it doesn’t “pop up,” assembly of the campaign counter is quick and straightforward. The plastic material is also easy to care for and clean when needed.
Another difference between the campaign counter and the two pop-up bars is the size. The campaign counter is about 33 inches wide and 20 inches deep. It comes with a header, making the total height of the counter around 80 inches. Although the counter is not on wheels, it does come with a carrying case to help make it easier to transport to and from trade shows and other events.
Mini and Large Headers
Although the pop-up bars do not come with a header, as the campaign counter does, you do have the option of purchasing a separate header that connects to the surface of the bar. The header measures about five feet tall, so when it is mounted to the top of a bar, it will be high enough —about eight feet — to grab people’s attention from across the event space.
Like the bars themselves, the header is easy to assemble. It screws into the surface of the bar, and there are pre-drilled holes in both the mini and large pop-up bars. A flexible, pillowcase-style banner slides over the top of the header, showing off your brand’s name and logo.
How to Use a Counter or Bar During a Trade Show
Not sure how you would use a portable bar or counter during a trade show? Here are a few ideas:
- Offer free snacks. Who doesn’t love free food? You could argue that free treats are part of the draw of trade shows for many attendees. Your brand can use a pop-up bar to set up an array of free snacks, such as bite-size brownies or small bags of popcorn. Along with enticing people to check out your display, the packaging you use for the free food can also help to spread your brand’s message across the convention center floor.
- Pour sample drinks. Another option is to use the surface of a portable bar to offer attendees free beverages. You can set up small bottles of water that are printed with your brand’s logo, or you might offer wine, beer or spirit tastings. Just remember to follow any rules set by the event space if you are planning on serving alcohol.
- Hand out free goodies. Although food and drink are always winners, you might prefer to give away non-consumable items, such as pens, stress balls or fidget spinners. The trick is to make the goodies look appealing. For example, you can have someone demonstrating a fidget spinner or ask people to sign up for your mailing list with the pen, and then they get to keep the pen.
- Demonstrate products. Depending on your company’s product, a portable counter or bar can provide the ideal surface for showing off how it works. You can set up a schedule for product demonstrations and use food and drink — served from a neighboring counter or bar — to keep people in the area of your exhibition space until the demo begins.
How to Choose the Right Exhibition Counter
Should you choose the plastic campaign counter or the portable pop-up bar? Ask yourself the following questions so that you can select the trade show counter or bar that best meets your needs:
- Will you be stationary, or will you want to move about during the trade show? If you plan on traveling about the exhibit hall floor, a bar on casters or wheels might be a better choice. Depending on how far you have to move from your vehicle to the convention center floor, it might be easier to do so with a wheeled bar.
- What are you offering or demonstrating? The type of product you’ll be giving out can also influence the kind of surface you need. A bar, with shelving in the back, makes sense if you’re pouring drinks or serving food. But if you’re giving out non-edible items, you might not need the shelving offered by a bar.
- How much space do you need? Do you want a large surface area to demo a product, or do you plan on setting up a small tray of free food or goodies? Along with thinking about how much space you’ll need, it’s worthwhile to consider how much space you’ll have available in the exhibition area. You might only have a room for a mini bar, rather than a larger one.
- Will you be indoors or outdoors? Most trade show counters and bars are designed for either indoor or outdoor use, but it is still worth considering the location of the event when picking out the right counter or bar.
Design Your Outdoor Bar or Counter Today
What sets your brand’s bar or counter apart from the crowd is the use of printed graphics. Whether you decide to display your brand’s logo on printed graphics on the side and front of the bar or counter or you decide to use a header with a banner as well, now is your time to shine.
If you’re not sure how to layout your graphics or what you want them to say, SpeedPro can help. Contact your local studio to learn more about our large-format printing services today.