Viewing entries tagged
Trade Show

A Case for Projection Mapping


A Case for Projection Mapping

InQuest Marketing approached nParallel to create a custom rental exhibit solution that incorporated projection mapping for its client GREX, an industry-leading railway maintenance technology company. The goal of the exhibit was to generate excitement and awareness around the official launch of the company’s latest solution at Railway Interchange, as well as highlight its entire portfolio of products. The latest solution, the Aurora XivTM truck, combines the company’s best technologies and innovations into one vehicle.

Projection mapping is an audience engagement digital technology that nParallel offers its clients. nParallel committed to highlighting, promoting and communicating to the industry and potential customers how the new Aurora Xiv makes railroad inspections more efficient and cost-effective. In partnership with InQuest Marketing, nParallel designed and implemented the technology for GREX.

The entire custom rental exhibit solution, including the projection mapping experience, provided a heightened presentation and experience that stood out above the entire show floor at Railway Interchange. The project allowed GREX to successfully launch the Aurora Xiv while also showcasing existing product lines, generating excitement and increasing overall brand visibility.


2018 Technology Planning Tips

2018 Technology Planning Tips

Technology is one of our favorite topics at nParallel. We’ve been growing this area of our business for years now, and we’ve hired a new technology leader whose experience and passion for the industry is going to help us continue to revolutionize our digital integrations.

Technology isn’t a shoot-from-the-hip type of plan. It requires methodology and a team that can think right and left brained. Given all the emerging technology and digital work we do – from projection mapping to touch screens to technology integration work to apps and more – we have a few tips to share to help you continue to bring tech to the forefront and give it a seat at the trade show experience table.

Create a tech strategy 

It’s important to ask yourself when planning your trade show experience: what are we trying to achieve for our organization by attending XYZ trade show and how can we differentiate on the show floor with our customers? This question often can lead to developing an experiential strategy that is focused all around technology. Thoughtfully designed and implemented technology can visually pull trade show attendees from across the room to your exhibit. A tech strategy can help define how to bring your target customer to your exhibit, determine and develop what will cause them to stay engaged at your booth, and will help make your experience memorable for them.

Lean on your trade show partner, a lot

At nParallel, we believe that we are responsible for much of our client’s success on the show floor. We believe in defining the exhibit, designing the experience, and delivering – above and beyond – for our clients. And this includes technology. We are our client’s partner and designer to ensure that the technology is exactly what they need and when they need it. Our clients trust us to come up with the ideas and implement them on their behalf. So, lean on your trade show partner for everything related to technology. That’s what we’re here for! To make you look good – and technology-wise, differentiated and a cut-above.

Budget for technology

It’s important to add a technology line to your trade show budget. When creating your annual budget and plan, talk to your trade show partner - they should be able to give you a rough percentage or number based upon your exhibit’s goals to allocate into the budget. We help our clients with annual trade show planning and help them earmark an amount that allows them to stand out on the trade show floor and create an experience that truly engages their customers.

Let us know how we can help – we’d love to tell you all our ideas about how you can stand out on the trade show floor.

Technology Trend Must-Knows


Technology Trend Must-Knows

Technology is ever-changing, ever-emerging and often for clients, ever-overwhelming. At nParallel, we make technology integrations for our clients seamless.

We love when our customers allow us to think outside the box for them and generate technology concepts that impress their customer.

If you haven’t start thinking about technology integration, here are some ideas to get your technology juices flowing.

·       Mobile Apps provide opportunities to connect with show attendees throughout your event. These tailored, event-based apps helps companies communicate with customers, even before they arrive at the booth.

·       Virtual Reality is one that nParallel has tapped into frequently for clients. When companies have large, over-sized equipment that they would prefer to not ship onto the show floor, we’ve created on-site technology opportunities for our client’s customers to experience products, virtually and instantaneously without having the actual products on the show floor.

·       Gesture Technology has been a favorite of ours. This technology is exactly what it sounds like: customers who visit show floor exhibit can interact with products and experiences by using hand gestures to discover and learn.

·       Projection Mapping is the process of digitizing a 3-dimensional object and displaying its image on a non-flat or non-white surface to educate depth, context or detailed information. We have so much to talk about on this topic that we'll create a separate blog post just on projection mapping.

·       Upgraded Exhibit Designs use technology more and more to communicate the company’s message in a stronger way. We’ve been helping our clients with large format LED walls and screens as architectural and branding elements to provide dynamic movement and visual impact.

What technology has been your favorite that you've seen this year?


Timelines and Budgets


Timelines and Budgets

We have partnered with countless successful companies and executed upon thousands of trade shows. Our line of business allows us to witness trends in the industry and two trends we’re seeing is the increasing costs of trade shows all while the associated timelines are growing shorter. With these two realities working against companies, it is crucial for organizations to plan and prepare ahead of time by building a timeline and budget appropriately, and we’re here to help.

Importance of a timeline

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” and this couldn’t be truer for companies working hard to participate in a trade show event that could launch them into further success within their industry. Unfortunately, companies without a sufficient and known timeline are often rushed and forced to make decisions. Instead of having the time to ask the “why” behind the what, companies are obligated to make decisions more quickly than they’d like – which can be costly to their organization.

Mapping out a timeline for each trade show event will ensure to optimize the company budget. nParallel has found that timelines, in general, are getting shorter. The time to design, engineer, fabricate, and execute is expedited as a result, and companies often find themselves rushing into more expensive decisions.

Creating a timeline

At nParallel, we like to partner with our clients to create a schedule and timeline well in advance of an event. Unforeseen glitches can happen, and so we are firm believers in timelines that offer leeway in the schedule to allow sufficient margin. So, when creating a calendar, make a generous one. We suggest beginning the timeline a year before the event and starting the process with S.M.A.R.T. goals. Companies should discuss their goals and objectives on the front end so they can understand their priorities and be prepared to make decisions in-line with them when the time comes.

Creating a budget

When setting a budget, there are many things to consider. Trade show costs can vary from year to year, especially if there is a show relocation. Right along with the timeline, budgets should be created a year in advance to research and prepare for all the different financial plays a trade show demands.

The biggest area that we see companies forget to add to their budget is drayage. Let us quickly give you a synopsis of this so you can be sure this is in your budget for next year.


Drayage is the transportation of the exhibit. The detailed work it takes to move hundreds of thousands of pounds of freight and material to an event is vast. The proper understanding of what exactly drayage encompasses will help companies get ahead in eliminating unnecessary overhead and reduce trade show costs.


A big part of the drayage cost is in labor. Every step of the process takes workforce. From directing the material-handling process from one place to another to checking shipments as they arrive - there are always people making the process happen. Labor costs associated with drayage are determined based on where shipments are delivered. Surveys have discovered that labor costs are lower when companies ship directly to the show site versus to the advance warehouse.


It goes without saying, but the heavier materials are, the higher the cost will be to handle them. The type of packaging used is also key, as some are cheaper than others because they’re easier to handle and lighter. The kind of transportation carrier used is another reason prices tend to increase. A specialized carrier is going to cost more than a standard carrier.

With 2018 quickly approaching, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’d like to talk through timelines and budgets. The process can be daunting, but our team is always ready to have timeline and budget conversations.


Exhibiting Good


Exhibiting Good

Lots of good things are happening around the office.

Today, we gathered all of our employees to kick off a new program to help us give back to the community. At nParallel, we've always been passionate about philanthropy and this year we wanted to take our efforts to a new level and offer each employee $250 to give to a nonprofit of their choice. Our new program that kicked off today is called Exhibiting Good, a play off the work we do here at nParallel.

We gathered around tables this morning, and each employee had the opportunity to share what organization they wanted to give their $250 to and why. It was an opportunity to learn more about each nParallel employee and nonprofits that are working hard to further advance our society for the better.

We love the work we do at nParallel; we get to help organizations build exhibits and develop retail spaces. Today we had the chance to step back from our work and take a look at the progress that nonprofits are making in our own backyard to make a difference, and as a team, we want to help.

As a company, our 36 team members will be donating $250 each to the outstanding organizations below. We couldn’t be more proud of our team for advocating for charities that are making such a huge difference.

My Very Own Bed


Secondhand Hounds

Autism Society of Minnesota

Animal Humane Society

The Sanneh Foundation

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

International Justice Ministry

Groves Academy

Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery

West Metro Firefighter’s Relief Association

Wounded Warrior Project

The OsteoPETrosis Society

Houston Food Bank

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance

Pitch in for Baseball

Ruff Start Rescue

Good in the Hood

American Red Cross


Second Harvest Heartland

Epilepsy Foundation Minnesota

American Heart Association


5 Trade Show Don’ts


5 Trade Show Don’ts

When a company participates in a trade show, it’s an immense amount of pressure to “get it right.” Companies have a million priorities to sort through, and as they gather together the right “DO’s” it’s important to take hold of a few trade show “DON’Ts” as well.

1.     DON’T Minimize Staff Selection

When it comes to a trade show, the staff a company selects to represent itself is everything. Exhibitors may only have a few seconds to engage with potential customers, and those staffing the exhibits are the ones responsible for multiplying the time in that window and closing deals or at least having strong leads. It is so important to choose staff carefully and wisely given that these few seconds can be the ones that lead to new clients. Most companies have the options of bringing their own people, hiring from an agency, or a little bit of both. Don’t skim on selecting who goes to the trade shows. We highly recommend investing in the best of the best; whether that’s your people or an outside group.

2.     DON’T Leave Your Leads

Whether a networking opportunity or a lead opportunity, follow-up is crucial. As they say, if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Have a plan to follow through with leads and begin right after the trade show ends. Likewise, know this follow-up plan before the show begins, and have it in mind so you know what kind of contact information you need to gather at the show and what specific conversation points you’d like to bring up later.

3.     DON’T Fail to Network

One of the purposes of a trade show is to lead generate and network. Sitting back at a trade show and watching business cards collect in a fishbowl is an event that we don’t recommend for anyone. Companies need to be aggressive, making a certified effort to meet and greet everyone at the show. This allows exhibitors to sift through the best prospects, establish a presence and generate leads. The only way to reap qualified leads is to engage with them.

4.     DON’T Use Company Jargon

Companies tend to have their own general business jargon. Whether it’s acronyms or industry-specific words, be careful to use them only with potential clients and customers who understand the jargon. It’s easy to assume that those entering your booth know the industry, but in the small chance that they don’t, using jargon unfamiliar to them could deter them from doing business with an exhibitor.

5.     DON’T Look Like Everyone Else

Exhibitors don’t need to go over the top to establish a unique presence, but it is important to differentiate among competitors. The goal is to attract people to the booth. Whether it’s a new product update, a new product launch, make it unique and creative through your exhibit display.

We could keep going with don’ts, but we want to hear from you. What other don’ts would you share?


How to Set SMART Trade Show Goals


How to Set SMART Trade Show Goals

Many of our clients desire to know the best way to evaluate the performance of a trade show. It's an excellent question and one that is answered very simply: business goals. When business goals are established, the performance of your trade show can be evaluated by how these goals were, or were not, attained. A company can put together very basic and helpful goals through a few simple steps, as well as using a helpful acronym: SMART.

The first step is answering a QUESTION. This question is foundational as companies seek to move forward in creating and executing goals: what is the company's purpose for this event? This will set the entire foundation to the goals created. Perhaps the purpose is to increase sales, showcase a service or product, or maybe this is strictly a marketing opportunity. Regardless of what it is, this question is crucial for companies to answer as they seek to establish goals for a trade show.

The next step is RESEARCH.  Let us help you with this. We know the trends and love to talk about ways to implement your ideas improve your current initiative or brainstorm a direction to take your aspiring trade show exhibit. Some specific questions we like to research and show our clients are new ways to communicate your message, service or product and how we can differentiate our clients on the show floor. Throughout this research phase, you will be able to see weaknesses in your current situation that can help identify opportunities for improvement. As you do this, remember that no team or company is perfect. Many clients of ours believe they need to have their goals written before engaging with us; however, we love to help our clients write their goals. 

Lastly, step three is WRITING SMART goals. This acronym is broken down into five key words that are guidelines to use when writing business goals. The key words are Simple & Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. All business goals should encompass these concepts. An example of a goal like this would be, "to increase attendance at trade show booth by 20% over the next year." As you can see, this goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Knowing this goal, we can help you plan for and achieve it by implementing plans and components that attract and drive attendance to your exhibit.

Once the SMART goals are established, be sure to prioritize the preparation and follow-up of each event. Many of our clients' goals are executed in the preparation and follow-up of their trade shows. They set up a social media campaign, send follow-up emails or build a customer contact list – all of which would never be reached if they were not proactive in organizing the bookends of their event.

SMART goals should be evaluated after every trade show, not only to determine if goals were accomplished but also to observe areas of improvement for future events. In the end, goals are foundational and matter greatly to the success of a trade show event. Companies are guaranteed to experience consistent growth as they routinely circle back to goals - goals that are Simple & Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Have you built goals for your trade show?