The Boothologist

Rising labor prices introduce new challenge to sustainable tradeshow booth design August 12 2017

As part of Boothster's commitment to providing our clients with environmentally and financially sustainable tradeshow booth designs, it is important to be aware of how local labor prices and regulations can significantly increase the overall cost of tradeshow booth and display construction. Boothster frequently works with local labor unions and convention center management in various municipalities and have noticed several recent changes to labor pricing and imposed regulations. 


labor costs and sustainable tradeshow booth construction

First, union labor pricing is going up. Second, many municipalities are getting more strict with construction and tradeshow set up regulations. We recently had one situation where a convention center "forced" local union labor on us. Not only did this increase costs but it disrupted our normal tradeshow booth setup process by requiring our normal non-union staff to work with union laborers for a 4 hour minimum! Typically, this installation could have been completed by one person with very simple tools.  To get an idea of how expensive local labor can be, Boothster always takes into account the variance of local union labor rates across the country. One of our top labor partners who always does stellar work for us has recently published their union labor rates per city. New York unsurprisingly is the most expensive, with an hourly labor rate at a whopping $203 per hour. Over time it is an astronomical $263!  We welcome and appreciate our skilled labor partners, however, at these rates it is important to design our booths in such a way as to minimize labor on set up. Moreover, we want to utilize our own staff and supervisors whenever possible to help further minimize these costs. Occasionally, it is even possible to send The Boothologist himself to help out with booth setup at a much lower rate than local labor!


Custom Tradeshow Booth Setup and Construction


Our strategy to work with these realities is to provide our own non-union supervisors to work with local labor union to maintain the projected costs of the project and the integrity of Boothster designs. Many times this non-union supervisor can be our client side booth lead or one of our own fabricators from Oregon. Depending on the local regulations and the booth design's degree of complexity, we typically hire at least one local Union for their minimum rates. We almost always send one of our non-union Oregon fabricators to first time builds of newly designed booths, to supervise and advise our clients while working with local labor unions to reduce costs. Generally our union labor partners can provide higher skilled talent for onsite tradeshow booth construction, while our support staff focus on such general setup tasks as hanging banners, moving boxes or setting up Ikea chairs, etc. To find out more about how Boothster can help your organization with sustainable tradeshow booth design, give us a call or fill out our contact form here!



Boothster's Passion for Truly Sustainable Tradeshow Booth Design August 07 2017

Boothster is a tradeshow booth design firm with an unheard of passion for sustainability in the exhibit design industry. If Mother Nature were here to speak to us, she would say that there is no other design/build firm that can match Boothster’s track record for sustainable exhibits over the past seven years. Our philosophy is that it is impossible to completely eliminate the waste associated with short lived exhibition displays. We recognize the cold reality that the problem is not just the mass quantity of wasted exhibits and design materials, but that exhibit materials are typically not biodegradable. Using “Recyclable” materials is OK, but is not the answer, because in reality, most design and booth construction materials never get recycled. In the best case scenario, tradeshow materials get recycled for a couple of uses, and then end up in a landfill.


Non recyclable tradeshow booth materials often end up in landfills


That is why we don’t think tradeshow exhibitors and tradeshow booth design companies should get a pass for merely using “recyclable" materials. We believe the answer is in using biodegradable and non toxic materials that, through natural degradation, biodegrade back into the eco system. Our ultimate goal is to create exhibits that are made with 100% biodegradable and non toxic materials, while minimizing the fossil fuels required for transport. On past projects, we have achieved as much as 99% biodegradability and when recyclable materials must be used, we will ensure really are recycled.


sustainable tradeshow booth design


However, while we are passionate about sustainability in all of our projects, it can never be at the sacrifice of good design. The green materials used in our tradeshow booth exhibits and designs must be chosen and forged into displays that exceed client goals and expectations. Moreover, in addition to displaying a company or organization’s commitment to sustainability, the design should also engage, inform and inspire people on a transcendent level. 

Eco Friendly Tradeshow Booth Design

It is the combination of our passion for building environmentally friendly tradeshow booths and our commitment to client satisfaction that drive Boothster’s ongoing track record of designing award winning green tradeshow booths, exhibits, banner stands and signage. To find out how Boothster can help your organization with sustainable and environmentally tradeshow booth design, give us a call or fill out our contact form here!

The Benefits of Environmentally Friendly Tradeshow Banner & Signage Print Materials July 28 2017

As part of Boothster’s commitment to using environmentally responsible and sustainable materials in our custom tradeshow booth designs, we are proud to use recyclable latex saturated wet strength durable paper in our tradeshow banner stands and signage.  Specifically Boothster uses a bright, white cellulose based, latex saturated print media whose key benefits include strength, durability, flexibility and the ability to fold without the display image cracking.  However, in contrast to most of the non-recyclable banner materials out there, our banner materials are manufactured from renewable and sustainable resources, are PVC free, contain no toxic metals or carcinogens, are FSC certified and comply with European REACH standards!



Unfortunately, many tradeshow exhibitors are not aware that their tradeshow banners and printed signage are not only non-recyclable but are also made from cancer causing materials!  The recyclable banners we use for vertical and horizontal banner stands contain no IARC Group 1 Carcinogens and are certified to be toxic chemical free!  This means that throughout the lifecycle of our printed banner materials, you can rest assured knowing that they will never contribute toxins or carcinogens to the environment.


Recyclable materials used for sustainable tradeshow banners


Our recyclable banner materials are perfect for all types of tradeshow, event or exhibition use, including for use in roll-up banner stands, indoor point-of-purchase displays, indoor banners, temporary outdoor displays, wall coverings and of course the Eco Rolla Vertical Banner Stand and Bamboo Mini Tabletop banner stand! For more information about how Boothster can help your organization with recyclable tradeshow banners and printable materials give us a call or fill out our contact form here!

Green Ideas for Tradeshow Booth Design July 13 2017

by John-Paull Davidson, Boothologist, Boothster Founder

For the first 12 years of my career in design I dreamed of a day when clients would not dismiss using green display materials as being costly, unattractive, or “not right for our brand”. That day has triumphantly arrived. Today, clients are realizing that green booths and retail displays are not only affordable, but add aesthetic and brand value.


Green Practices in Tradeshow Booth Design


In 2006, I sensed this sea change in consumer demand and began integrating my stash of cool green materials into designs and articulated visually how the aesthetic of “sustainable modernism” could help propel brands ahead of the curve.  Boothster was founded and the clients started to find us through the magic of Google.

Back in 2006 the buzz words on Google were “eco friendly booths”. Today it has shifted to “green booth design ideas”. Additionally, people are using the word “sustainable” with more credibility, because over the past few years as the trend has grown, a lot of green-washing has occurred. Green washing, put simply, is providing misleading information about how “green” your product really is.

For example, a lot of companies that compete directly with us say that their booth or retail display is green because it utilizes aluminum. They literally have their booths made from a typical company and slap a eco friendly plastic piece on it and call it the most sustainable booth on the planet. What a joke. At Boothster we call ourselves Boothologists and this is one reason. We could and should take these companies to school about what it is to be green.


Sustainable Tradeshow Booth Building Materials


But all joking aside, you don’t need to go to school to learn how to be green in your life, and not with the booth/display you purchase. All it takes is some research, and some good common sense, and it goes a long way.

To start, here are some definitions:

  • Green: In this context, the term “green” is anything that does not hurt the planet or living things in this planet. Green, and “eco friendly” are often used interchangeably.
  • Sustainable: In this context the term “sustainable” refers to processes which serve to replenish natural supplies, rather than deplete them.
  • Green Washing: This refers to describing a product, service or action green when there is no evidence to support the claim. Green washing most often occurs when companies are trying to ride the wave of all things green by making false claims about their product or service.
  • Green Booth or Trade Show Display: A green trade show display is a trade show booth (signage, promotional graphics, display counters, wall displays) which minimizes the long term harm on the planet. Long term harm is caused by the use of materials that cause pollution such as plastic, aluminum and toxic dyes.
  • Effectively recyclable: If your product can be curbside recycled in any city in the USA it is effectively recyclable. If it’s recyclable in Portland but not in Texas, then it’s not effectively recyclable.
  • Cradle to Cradle: This is a design philosophy which means that any product you design must be designed with materials that biodegrade back into the environment with no toxic residue. Examples include wood, potato starch paper tubes and recycled paper panels (cardboard).
  • Biodegradable: This refers to if a product or material can biodegrade non toxically.
  • Post life booth plan: After your booth “dies” where is it going? Do you know for sure someone will recycle it? Hint: if your booth is biodegradable and non toxic, you don’t have to worry about it!

Secondly, I’d like to offer some tangible ways you can make your trade show display program green, eco friendly, sustainable (or whatever term you choose to use).


1. Integrate Sustainable Business Practices into your Trade Show Program

It really starts with talking about it. Make it a bullet point in your meeting agendas. Ask questions like:

“How can we make our trade show program more green?”

“Are the materials in our trade show displays/exhibits eco friendly?”

“Are we wasting a lot of brochures that never get read anyway?”

“Are our trade show vendors engaged in sustainable or green business practices?”


Are we using sustainable practices for our tradeshow booth design?

2. Use Common Sense

Its obvious that it is not very “green” to print thousands of brochures that get outdated and thrown away. Its also obvious that using something once and throwing it away in the garbage is not very eco friendly. But sometimes common sense is not enough.

3. Ask Experts, But Also Do Your Own Research

Many experts will tell you that aluminum is a green material. Billions of tons of trade show displays have been made from it and many companies tout that it is a green material. Yes, it is recyclable but when compared to durable recycled fiber tubes, or wood even, it is not green at all. In fact, aluminum mining causes horrible environmental and social degradation. Our philosophy at Boothster is to use recycled fiber tubes instead of aluminum for our trade show displays. The tubes are far more biodegradable and sustainable.

The more you learn about the materials, the more you can make informed decisions about what you are buying.

4. Interesting Facts About Cardboard:

- Cardboard glue is made from water and starch so that it does not make people sick when it comes in contact with food.

- Recycled cardboard is more malleable than virgin paper which makes it easier to create the ridges in corrugated cardboard.

This is one of many reasons we have replaced aluminum with cardboard for structural and signage applications for our trade show displays.

Sustainable properties of cardboard for tradeshow booth structures

TIP: Avoid using aluminum for display structures


Experts might also have you believe that plastic is an eco friendly material. Only kind of, because it’s recyclable. Its much better to use post consumer recycled plastic such as our 40% recycled PET bottle plastic. It’s also key to close the loop by making sure when you do use plastic, you make sure it gets recycled.

Honeycomb cardboard is even greener than plastic. When we have panel graphics made, we use cardboard or honeycomb cardboard.


TIP: Avoid using plastic for sign displays. Use cardboard!


There is a lot of misinformation about banners online. Soy or water based inks are touted as being “green”. Vinyl is claimed to be recyclable or biodegradable. Yes, some claims are partially true, but I go back to common sense. Natural materials like bamboo or cotton are obviously doing to break down in the environment naturally because they are natural. That makes them inherently more green than vinyl.

When it comes to inks, soy and water based have been around for a long time, but they don’t hold color without being laminated- with plastic. So you think you are making a “green display” choice when in fact 95% of the banner is not eco friendly. Its better to go with a direct print ink which adheres to a supremely green banner material like bamboo fiber. We are really excited about our new bamboo banner fiber banner material which is grown in pesticide free bamboo plantations, is 99.6% biodegradable and REACH certified. When you are looking for a graphic trade show display which prints millions of vibrant colors, its the most “green” or “eco friendly” choice for exhibiting at trade shows.


TIP: Use cotton banner material instead of vinyl for banners.

5. Get Creative to Stand Out

Trade shows, events and conferences are literally a sea of plastic, aluminum and rickety parts and pieces. Conventional wisdom these days says do a full color, vibrant printed banner display. By all means do so, and make sure it’s eco-friendly - but what if there is a better way to stand out? If you just need to communicate a simple slogan, why not go “old school” and do a screen print on the back of an old banner? That would certainly stand out on the trade show floor!

Conventional wisdom at exhibits, events and tradeshows also says build a lightweight structure out of aluminum. Instead, why not build it out of kraft paper tubes that are every bit as structural, more aesthetically pleasing and, yes, green. The reality is that ROI is the first priority for booth strategy. What I suggest is that going green will increase your ROI. Green conscious consumers will notice your trade show display because of its creative use of aesthetically pleasing materials.


Creative use of cardboard building materials for custom tradeshow booth design


To learn more about how Boothster can help your company or organization with green tradeshow booth design using recyclable materials and sustainable building practices, give us a call or fill out our contact form today!

Tradeshow Booth Design for Government Organizations July 08 2017

What we’ve found in designing for government agencies over the past 8 years is that there’s always an aspirational story there. People in public service are really are fighting the good fight in the name of social responsibility and sustainability and that’s the story we tell in every booth we design.

 Tradeshow Booth Design for Government Agencies


At Boothster, our philosophy is that design and the aesthetic of specific sustainable materials have the ability to celebrate positive action; and inspire our future. We use materials that are visually beautiful, sustainable and biodegradable. We are, bar none, the most sustainable portable display company in the world. Our designs are works of art that engage attendees, and are a catalyst for conversation and sharing of ideas.

 Boothster Custom Tradeshow Booth Design for Government Agencies


Boothster specializes in creating aspirational spaces for socially responsible, healthy and sustainable organizations. We are a subcontractor of Nichols and Associates, a GSA schedule holder. To learn more about how Boothster can help your government organization with custom tradeshow booth design give us a call or fill out our contact form today!





Healthy for the Planet, Healthy for Your Body!  June 27 2017

Flora Health has been manufacturing and supplying premium herbal products since 1965, but their roots stretch back to Germany in the early 1900s, where Dr. Otto Greither, grandfather of the current owner Thomas Greither, dedicated his life to the discovery, production and distribution of natural health care products. Since then, Flora has preserved his original dedication to perfect herbal remedies that ensure maximum purity, quality and potency with a holistic approach to health.


Flora Health Founders

Beets are one of the most healthy foods you can put in your body and bamboo one of the most healthy renewable materials we can feed our planet. Our client Flora Health is fighting the good fight while operating a successful sustainable green business. One way Flora demonstrates their commitment to sustainable business practices is their decision to utilize our custom bamboo tradeshow banner stands in a variety of consumer, distributor and trade show events.  


Flora Health Custom Bamboo Tradeshow Banner StandThe mission of Flora is to participate in the continuing evolution of the people on Earth toward universal harmony, peace and perfection by providing products and services for the purification and upliftment of the body and spirit, which is another reason why Boothster is proud to work with them on their custom tradeshow banner stands and promotional signage!

10 Questions Your Booth Designer Should Ask June 14 2017

Custom Tradeshow Booth Appeal


Of course, you know tradeshows can be big business. You’re a marketer.


And trade shows are still an important part of your marketing mix, even in the age of content. In fact, in the U.S. alone, there are more than 10,000 tradeshows annually that  generate nearly a TRILLION DOLLARS in economic activity, according to a study by the Events Industry Council. While attending the right tradeshow can shin the spotlight on your business for key players in the industry and generate sales; the wrong one can be just another rat-hole of wasted time and resources.


But you’re a super savvy marketer who already knows this—and you’ve carefully handpicked the best tradeshows for the year, your messaging is crisp, the sales team is aligned and the swag is ready to go. 


But what about your exhibition booth designer?


Perhaps worse than picking the wrong tradeshow—attending the right show with the wrong exhibition booth could leave you lost in the crowd or even damage your brand. A bad exhibit booth is especially painful when you consider the vast majority of tradeshow attendees—more than 80% according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)—have buying authority. It’s like showing up to the Oscars in sweatpants. Sure--they’re cheap; they’re practical. And they send a message. But not the one you want.


Your exhibit is critical to the success of a tradeshow. Whether you realize it or not, both its design and fabrication make statements about your brand. Is your brand a cheap pair of sweatpants? Or Marc Jacobs or Patagonia?


That’s why it’s critical your exhibit designer understands your brand and objectives for a tradeshow. Here’s a list of questions every designer should be asking you to really nail your tradeshow exhibit.


1.    Is this a one-time show/event or a longer-term trade show program?

2.    What are the goals for the trade show program? For example:

    •  Writing orders at show

    •  Build business with existing clients

    •  Get 10 demonstrations per day with new prospects

    •  Launch new product

3.    How big is the trade show space? Is it an island, in line, peninsula configuration or something else?

4.    Does the existing website represent the look and feel of your brand? What other literature, packaging, collateral, etc., represents the brand?

5.    Are there aesthetic elements, even materials that represent the brand?

6.    What are your brand logo(s) and brand guidelines?

7.    What are your Pinterest images or other inspirations?

8.    Do you have photos of old booths? What did/didn’t you like about the old booth(s) as it relates to the goal of this trade show program?

9.    What is your brand/reputation in the context of the trade show and related industries at the conference?

    •  Are you an established brand in need of a refresh?  
    •  Are you a major player who wants a statement booth?  Are you a new brand wanting to stand out?
    •  Are you a hungry startup ready to disrupt the industry?  

10.    What are your needs in terms of shipping, set up, dismantle, booth storage?


Of course, you’ll need the right designer who can actually execute an exhibition booth that captures the essence of your brand.


At Boothster, we push the boundaries of design and sustainability to build exhibition environments that communicate our clients’ values and aspirations. Our sustainable modernist aesthetic uses biodegradable and non-toxic materials to elevate brands and organizations.


Check out our one of our case studies here for example of sustainable modernist design. Naturally, we think it’s pretty neat.


But, regardless of which exhibition designer you select, make sure they ask the right questions to understand your brand. Don’t be sweatpants. Be fabulous. To learn more about how Boothster can help your organization with custom tradeshow booth design, fill out our contact form here!



Many companies renewing their commitment to sustainability despite U.S. exit from Paris climate agreement June 13 2017

Last week, the United States Government decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a pact the U.S. previously made with 194 nations to reverse the negative effects of climate change. For organizations that are committed to sustainable business practices this was perceived as a giant setback to the mission of reversing the damaging effects of climate change. However, despite this disturbing news, climate change continues to be an important international news item and has spurred many companies, organizations and individuals to renew their commitment to green living and promoting sustainable business practices.


Donald Trump's speech about leaving the Paris Accord


Over the past few decades, sustainable business practices have become more mainstream as companies and consumers realized the myriad benefits of reducing their impact on the environment. These benefits include reduced operating costs, reduced waste, improved ability of companies to comply with regulations, improved staff morale and brand awareness.  Even investors now recognize the role sustainability plays in financial returns and are bringing that understanding to investment decisions. Attitudes have also changed among Millennials and younger members of the workforce for whom sustainability is a baseline expectation of their employers.  Today, dozens of major corporations, from Walmart to Toyota, have billion-dollar sustainable business lines, showing that green, sustainable business practices can be profitable and eco friendly as well. That is why the U.S. government’s decision to exit the climate pact is such a shock for millions of American businesses who have learned about the benefits of eco friendly business practices.


Business Sustainability


Despite the U.S. exit from the Paris Agreement companies, organizations and individuals still realize the essential benefits that sustainable business practices provide. For companies like Boothster who were founded with the express purpose of helping companies promote themselves using green, eco-friendly materials, our commitment to fighting climate change remains as strong as ever.  To learn more about how Boothster can help your organization with green, sustainable signage, banners and custom tradeshow booths fill out our contact form today!

Using Certified Eco-Friendly Materials for Custom Tradeshow Booth Design June 06 2017

For companies that are interested in adopting sustainable design practices and utilizing green, recyclable materials for their custom tradeshow booths, the choice of which materials to use can be challenging.  Because wood and wood products are a big component of many of Boothster’s custom tradeshow booth designs, it is important that we use wood products that have been harvested and processed in the most environmentally sustainable way. That is why Boothster uses a combination of wood products that have either been FSC certified as “Eco Friendly”, or that use soy glue instead of chemical based glues. That way we can make sure we are only using wood products harvested and processed in ways that minimize negative environmental impacts. 


Boothster uses FSC Certified Wood Products in all Custom Tradeshow Booth Designs

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC does this by setting standards on forest products, along with certifying and labeling them as eco-friendly. Organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council are essential for eco-friendly contractors, designers and businessess of all types to positively identify certifiably sustainable materials for their projects.


FSC certified wood used for custom tradeshow booths


By performing due diligence and ensuring custom tradeshow booth building materials are as eco-friendly as possible, Boothster helps clients to become accountable for the environmental impact of their custom tradeshow booths, banners and signage.  If you are interested in learning more about how Boothster can help your organization design a custom tradeshow booth using eco-friendly materials fill out our inquiry form today!


FSC Certified Wood used in GoMacro Custom Tradeshow Booth Design


Why Companies Are Choosing To Avoid PVC Materials in their Tradeshow Booths and Banner Stands May 26 2017

PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride plastics are odorless, solid plastics widely used to make pipes, pipe fittings, pipe conduits, vinyl flooring, and vinyl siding as well as many other types of common construction materials, medical devices and consumer products.  PVC materials are cheap and have a wide range of applications, however they also have a wide range of toxic side effects. According to Greenpeace, PVC is THE single most environmentally damaging type of plastic. Because of PVC’s heavy chlorine content, dioxins are released during the manufacturing, burning, or landfilling of PVC. Exposure to dioxins can cause reproductive, developmental, and other health problems, and at least one dioxin is classified as a carcinogen.

Responsible companies avoid PVC plastics

PVC is made from vinyl chloride, which is listed as a human carcinogen in the Fourteenth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program. Dioxins, phthalates, and BPA are suspected to be endocrine disruptors, which are chemicals that may interfere with the production or activity of hormones in the human endocrine system. TCDD dioxin is listed as a human carcinogen, and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate is listed as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen" in the Fourteenth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program.

Unfortunately, due to the wide range of applications for PVC plastic in construction materials, medical devices and consumer products, the amount of toxic carcinogens we are exposed to is more than significant, it is hurting us, our kids and all living things!  Especially for companies that embrace sustainable business practices and want to reduce the negative impacts of their business on the environment, eliminating the use of PVC plastics is an important step towards that goal.

Recyclable Custom Tradeshow Booth

This is one of the reasons Boothster was founded, to help companies build attractive, custom tradeshow booths that promote their brand using sustainable and recyclable materials and building practices.  From reusable, green tradeshow banner stands to fully recyclable custom tradeshow booth designs, Boothster is committed to helping companies eliminate the use of wasteful, harmful materials like PVC in their tradeshow booths, signage and promotional materials. If you are interested in how Boothster can help your company with a sustainable custom booth design at your next tradeshow, fill out our contact form today!