A Buyer’s Guide to Trade Show Digital Displays – Part II

February 20, 2020

Pierre Menard

Pierre Menard is the Director of Research, Development and Innovation at Skyline Exhibits. He has been with Skyline since 2012. Pierre began his career as a welder, machinist and shop manager and progressed to leading engineering teams and developing proven processes to bring new and innovative products to market. 

In Part 1 of this article, we broke down the features, benefits and strategies to mitigate risk for selecting tablets, kiosks and TV screens. In Part 2, we will cover computer monitors, projectors and video walls built from LED tiles.

Computer Monitors 

Computer monitors are quite often much smaller than TV screens and come in a smaller range of sizes. Many TVs come in sizes in excess of 50 inches, while computer monitors often top out at only 30 inches. Typically, computer monitors have more pixels per inch than TV screens because they are designed for up close, long-term viewing. Choose computer monitors over TV monitors for longer interactions, where the attendee will be reading text, typing answers or playing a game. Be sure to adjust the brightness of the screen to the ambient light conditions as well to avoid fatiguing attendee’s eyes.


At first glance, projectors seem to be an ideal trade show technology. Projectors are reasonably priced, in a small package, and capable of displaying large moving digital content. However, for trade show success, projectors require three things:

  1. Enough brightness (measured in lumens) to overcome show hall lighting. We’ve determined that projectors need to be at least 13-15,000 lumens to deal with show hall ambient lights (a typical office projector is around 3,500 lumens, a home projector is less than 2,000 lumens). Less lumens require a strategy for controlling the ambient light by installing in a darkened room or enclosing the screen in a darkened “tunnel.”
  2. A screen to project onto. Just putting up a white fabric will result in sub-par results. Projector screens have evolved as much as projector technology. Light gray/silver screens result in much better images because blacks look blacker, and bright colors are not as washed out as when projecting onto pure white. Reflective coatings can also dramatically improve the brightness, and a dark border surrounding the projected image absorbs stray light and gives the impression of a brighter image.
  3. A clear light path between the projector and the screen that is free from obstructions (including attendees).Depending on the projector, that usually means a distance free from obstructions of at least 8-12’, which prompts mounting the projector overhead, which may bump into show hall regulations, depending on the booth size. A strategy for a shorter clear path, without reducing image size, might be to use a short-throw projector, or short-throw and rear projection. This type of projector reflects the image off a mirror to simulate greater distance. The mirror is not 100 percent efficient, so brightness is lost, both in the reflection and project from the rear. At the time of this writing, short-throw projectors should only be used in conjunction with also controlling ambient light.

Two final considerations when implementing projector technology is aspect ratio and sound. Many projectors have a native aspect ratio of 4:3 like an old TV or laptop computer. In this type of projector, 16:9 content is emulated by dynamically resizing the content at a lower brightness and lower image quality. Regarding sound, it can be disconcerting if your audio sources are separate from the screen. Be sure to place the speakers near the screen and test before going live to make sure it feels like the sound is coming from the screen.

Video Walls 

A video wall is made up of multiple displays placed together, creating one giant image. Each individual screen shows a portion of the image, sometimes referred to as a “zone.” The displays used in video walls are commercial displays, because they must have a very thin bezel around the screen to stack them close together, and they must be capable of displaying “zones”— not generally possible with consumer-grade TVs (a simple 2x2 array can be displayed on consumer grade TVs if a connected to a PC with a higher-end graphics card). The modularity of video walls enables digital images much, much larger than even the largest single-screen monitors.

Many options of digital displays can be implemented to deliver your message at a trade show. Rather than selecting the technology and fitting the content and message to the digital display, best-practice dictates starting with the message (or story), which drives the content, which drives the medium (digital display technology). As the digital display increases in size and becomes a more critical design feature to connect with your customer, plans must be created and resources (time, money and people) must be budgeted to mitigate risks.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.