In order to get some fresh inspiration for my project I attended the Destinations Travel Show at Event City, Manchester on Thursday 19th January.

The Show featured representatives from the worldwide travel industry, products and destinations.  I was struck by the diversity of stands and the contrasting display techniques used to draw in ‘custom’.

Many stands used the ‘classic’ combination of pull up banner stands and a single table or podium, for giveaways, information leaflets etc.  This style of display, is something that I find very bland and uninspiring, both as a customer and designer, and something that I hope to be able address through my project work.

In contrast I particularly liked the stands that used props to bring their products to life.

The Guernsey stand combined contemporary design with nostalgic references to link with it’s #GuernseyMemories strapline.  The blue and brown colour palette also reflected the island location of Guernsey.  Another island exhibiting at the Show, Tobago, used a similar ‘island’ colour palette, but added bright tropical colours and planting to the mix. Both stands used ‘native’ props to aid product recognition.  Guernsey used a range of vintage items, whilst Tobago added beer barrels and a ‘dive shop’.  On a smaller scale, the use of props was also well used by Black Cheesemakers.  Here the stand featured milk urns and farming equipment to emphasise the ‘premium’ and ‘authentic’ nature of the product.

All three stands show how effective props can be in transforming a space and engaging with audiences.  In the case of Black Cheesemakers, how this can be done on a limited budget.  This has made me consider how is might be possible to combined props within the construction of stand design, rather than being separate add-ons.

Whilst the above are good examples of stand design, there were other, in my opinion, less effective displays.


The Visit USA Pavilion was one such example.  Such a large space had been squandered by bad design.  There was no consistent brand identity in the ‘Pavilion’, with each state using their own imagery, or in some cases tablecloths.  The outward facing layout meant it was difficult to see at a glance what was available but at the same time created an ugly, empty central area.  Whilst the Guernsey and Tobago stands, cleverly integrated their storage units into their stand designs, the USA Pavilion, used a series of standard office cupboards, with no attempt made to disguise or blend them into the stand design.  I feel that storage needs will be an important consideration for any design solution that I produce.  Storage will need to be central to any display, in order to house marketing materials, which often are delivered in unsightly storage boxes, which could otherwise ruin the aesthetics of the design.

Finally there were some stands that were trying to market similar products, but adopted different design approaches.

Cyprus v Northern Cyprus.  Bigger isn’t always better.  These stands used remarkably similar colour palettes (white, orange and  yellow), however, one opted for traditional imagery, whilst the other was more modern.  Personally I preferred the Cyprus stand (top left), as it featured a fretwork ‘wall’ cut in traditional Cypriot patterns, with this conveying the place marker messaging.  In contrast the Northern Cyprus stand was noticeably absent of any cultural identifiers.  As such, the stand was too generic, the branding could easily have been removed any replaced by any other country’s name.  I feel that it is important that design conveys the USP of any brand, so that it crosses over any linguistic boundaries.