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How to Design a Trade Show / Exhibition Booth

When designing a Trade Show or Exhibition booth, we have to use a combination of art and logic. Designers always try to create colourful, complicated and sometimes expensive displays to illustrate their design talent however, along with looks; the booth should incorporate proper function too and that’s where the logic part comes in. 
Before we get into design though, let’s examine in brief – what is a Trade Show (also called Trade Fair or Exposition or in short, Expo) and an Exhibition and the type of booths at such events. Trade Shows are targeted at a specific industry and the people involved in that industry whereas Exhibitions are usually open to the general public and can have a varied range of products and services on display.
Trade Shows offer an excellent avenue to advertise to a specific target-market segment and create brand-awareness. Exhibitions on the other hand can be an extremely powerful marketing tool to get your product or service in front of a larger audience and meet existing and prospective clients.
Booth Sizes
In general, a standard booth size tends to be 10 feet x 10 feet (i.e. 100 square feet in space) with larger spaces being in multiples of this, like 10’ x 20’, 20’ x 20’, etc. These are the typical types of booths sizes and their placement within a venue:
  • Linear – the most used style of booth placement is called Linear, which is 10’ x 10’ and has booths on its sides and back so is only open to the front. There are height restrictions with an 8’ display height on the back and up to 4’ wall height starting from the front of the booth up to 5’ in. The most used booth size in this type tends to be 10’ x 20’
  • Perimeter – similar to the linear type, which is 10’ x 10’ and has booths on both its sides but its back is up against a wall of the venue. The height restriction is 12′ on the back and sides of the booth and up to 4’ wall height starting from the front of the booth up to 5’ in.
  • Peninsula – this type is 20’ x 20’ or larger and has aisles on three sides. These tend to have fewer height restrictions and can vary depending on what types of exhibits are around it and its location. Best to confirm with the venue on exact height restrictions
  • Island – this type is 20’ x 20’ or larger and as the name signifies, it stands like an island with aisles on all sides and usually allows for less constrained height restriction even allowing for rigging components to the ceiling however it is best to confirm with the venue on exact height restrictions
How much space is enough space?
As far as deciding on how much space you may need, the general rule-of-thumb is to provide around 40-50 square feet for each staff within the booth with about 30% of the booth space used by staff and the rest by your visitors maintaining around 10 square feet per visitor. Try to visualize yourself as a visitor and see if the space you have considered opting for would feel too cramped. To go to the other extreme, you don’t want unnecessary wasted space as that would just eat into your event budget and not provide sufficient ROI to justify the spend! Another important aspect is deciding on your marketing goal to help you choose which booth type would be most suitable for your purpose.
Is it for Direct Sales? Showcasing new products? Providing product demos? Doing video presentations? Networking and Lead Generation? Conducting face-to-face interactions? Having private one-to-one meetings?

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When you visit a trade show or exhibition the first thing that catches your eye is most likely the designs of the booths especially if it’s a well-organized and well-thought-out spacing of each exhibitor. You don’t have to be the biggest booth there to get noticed. So how do you design your booth to ensure visitors at your next trade show/exhibition notice your booth? Let’s go through some excellent suggestions:
  1. Location – go through the floor plan with the organizer to see where best your booth would fit in and what companies would be in that area of the venue
  2. Space – finding that elusive sweet-spot of not too small and not too big is essential so your booth doesn’t end up crammed with too many people or worse, looking too big and barren
  3. Theme – you want your booth to stand out but not for the wrong reasons. Choose a theme associated with the type of your business, not just for the sake of doing something different. Having a theme unrelated to your business will just confuse visitors. You wouldn’t make your theme a large tent if your business is high fashion!
  4. Branding – ensure your brand name and logo feature prominently in your booth design. Nothing is worse than visitors wondering to whom the booth belongs and just giving it a miss. Most vendors also print brochures and flyers with their branding however in the interest of saving money and paper, consider going digital by letting visitors download your e-brochure or sharing it over Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
  5. Design – using interesting graphics will draw the eye of visitors from a distance and get them interested in visiting your booth. Use graphics relevant to your business, properly lit and visible from a long way off so people can recognize your brand
  6. Tech – video walls, touch-screens VR or live demos are some of the technologies in use and essential in creating interactions. No more collecting paper business cards either, use wireless devices and QR scanners to share and collect data
  7. Lighting – don’t just flood the booth with light. Lighting used strategically can highlight and enhance aspects where you would like visitors to focus. Use different types of light, either diffused for subtlety or spots for directing attention to something specific. Definitely avoid strobes or flashing lights as they can just be distracting and annoying
  8. Swag – everyone likes to get free stuff and most booths provide the usual t-shirts, pens or coffee mugs as giveaways. You can do either of these or any of a hundred different products with your logo and branding to hand out to your booth visitors. For an eco-friendly alternative, consider providing e-vouchers for discounts or freebies at your business
If you plan on participating at a Trade Show or Exhibition and looking for a consultation, Eventsador can definitely help. Get in touch with us.
Some Best-Practice Tips
  • Displays and suspended signs should be within the confines of your booth, not hanging out into the aisle or into another booth
  • No marketing activities outside of the confines of your own booth
  • Obstruction of sightlines is a no-no and any display should not be taller than 4’ if in the front of the booth
  • For lighting specs, always check the exhibitor manual for what is permitted or prohibited and avoid overly bright or distracting flashing lights
  • Secure all electrical cords with relevant floor channels or have them properly taped to avoid trip hazards
  • Spotlights should be aimed towards the inside of the booth and not blinding passersby
  • In order to provide ease-of-access to persons with disabilities, a booth should have enough space for wheelchair access and ramps if the base is a raised floor. Some countries have stricter regulations on ensuring accessibility and there may even be fines for non-compliance so always check local regulations.
  • Any background music you play at your booth (if permitted by the venue) should not be copyrighted. The larger your brand, the more likely you are to get into a snag for using copyrighted material
Final Thoughts:
Choose a location within the venue where there should be good footfall. Don’t cram too much into your booth allowing for enough space so people can move around without bumping into your displays. Maintain clear entry and exit areas.
To entice greater visitor numbers, use clear branding coupled with elements of useful technology. Subtle but effective lighting helps draw the eye in rather than people steering clear of the ‘disco’. You only have a few seconds in a sea of booths to grab a persons’ attention so make careful decisions and follow our tips to make the most of your presence at these events.
For Exhibition, Conference and Trade Show venue operators:
You have got to try the amazing Eventsador event app to provide your exhibitors a chance for better B2B and B2C interactions, easier networking opportunities and easier means to create partnerships.
Check out our app through our website and download the app via the Google Play Store for Android or Apple App Store for iOS.
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