Simon Baxter, Director of Dijon Designs, World Exhibition Stand Awards 2019 Winner

What did it mean to you to win in the inaugural World Exhibition Stand Awards?

The Dijon team was thrilled to win two silver trophies in the World Exhibition Stand Awards. We love what we do, we thrive on the challenge, and we’re excited about the difference a great show experience can make for our clients. To have this recognised against such strong international competition was a very proud moment for us all.

What are the big trends in exhibition stand design?

We see lots of new trends come and go in our industry often being born in the retail industry where longevity allows brands to invest. We keep a close eye on this sector and emerging trends to see what can add value to our clients’ designs; however we are always aware of two important factors:

The first is to get the basics right, a great stand design is only going to be effective if the staff on the stand are engaged, enthusatic and well briefed. Branding and messaging is clear, demo areas that can be accessed and a practical, well designed layout. The basics are, and always will be the big trend in my opinion!

Secondly, the stand should be able to grab the attention of passing visitors and this is where trends change quickly. Technology is often the go-to solution, but our team will consider all sorts of means of stopping a visitor, capturing attention and most importantly delivering a message. We have used everything from ice sculptures to holograms and find that often the most engaging ideas are a little out of the ordinary; but let’s be honest about what we do: we enable customers and brands to shake hands, and that is often best done over a really good coffee!

How international is the exhibition industry becoming?

Dijon has always worked with international brands at shows here in the UK and across the world. The basic need to do business with people you trust means they are more popular than ever. A shake of the hands will be tricky to replace with technology and perhaps, this is more important than ever at the moment.

New markets and opportunities are going to be more and more important for UK businesses over the next few years and we at Dijon are enthusiastically supporting our clients at international trade shows.

What are clients currently asking for in stand and experience design?

Our clients tell us that they want results that they can trust and relevance is key. Whilst we often need to be fearless in our pursuit of new ideas, we have to do what’s best for our clients – even if it means saying no occasionally.

Clients ask for results, they are more savvy about the investment and need to demonstrate a return. As part of the wider marking mix, the entire industry has a responsibility to deliver value.

The methods we use to deliver this may or may not be asked for by the client but they do usually start with a conversation, when we look back at the brief can only been seen by reading between the lines.

How are exhibitions and stand design staying relevant in a digital world?

Digital is one of the areas of stand experience that is discussed more than any other when taking a client brief, expanding the audience outside the show, attracting the audience to engage and experience the brand, and sometimes just acting as an ice breaker.

Our clients are the experts in their market, they know what they need to say. We know where we fit – and when to push those boundaries to make something great.
We value specialist expertise inside and outside our team, and work hard to collaborate with all stakeholders on clients side but also our wider specialists.

A digital presence can be used to enhance a physical exhibition stand and help the client to capture information and monitor that all important return on investment. At Dijon, relationships are a key part of our company values and we believe that, even in a digital world, there is no substitute for the physical handshake that exhibitions and engaging stand design facilitate.

What do you expect the next 5 years will hold for exhibition stand design?

We believe that now is the time for our clients to expand their markets and attract new audiences across the world. Live events are the most effective method of meeting new customers, promoting their brand and forging new partnerships.

The UK industry is among the very best in the world in terms of design, creativity and delivery. A long established, professional, world class industry – highly creative and talented community who lead the world. It’s a golden time for Dijon and the UK exhibition stand design industry.

Does stand size matter?

We don’t think you have to be the biggest to be the best; there are many factors that come into play which determine how successful an exhibition stand is:
position in the hall is important, the story on the stand and the orientation all contribute to the success of a stand along with innovative design and imaginative ways to drive an audience to the stand. We have lots of methods of ensuring our clients shine in an exhibition hall even if their stand and their budget isn’t the largest. Our most creative ideas are often born from challenges such as these.

Dijon itself is a compact in-house team with a global reach, and we have a trusted stable of suppliers. Whatever the brief, wherever the show, we book the right people for the job and make it happen – see? Size doesn’t matter!