How to Get the Most out of Your Trade Show Booth

February 12, 2019
Andrew Doerfler
Voiced by Amazon Polly

A striking trade show booth is your gateway to new clients. While preparing to attend a trade show, you need to know how to design an eye-catching booth that will stand out on the show floor. An appealing exhibit display will allow your team to convert sales, generate leads and raise brand awareness in the industry.

Custom displays can draw traffic to your booth - but it’s up to you to keep them there. Follow these trade show booth tips that will attract visitors and keep your business in mind after the event.

trade show booth sign

What Should I Know About My Trade Show Booth Display?

If you’re wondering how to prepare for a trade show, make sure you know what type of space you have:

  • Inline booth: A traditional display booth, the inline exhibit sits in a side-by-side line with other booths, and visitors only have access from the front of the booth. A typical inline display has a floor area of about 10 x 10 feet.
  • Perimeter booth: Similar to an inline booth, perimeter trade show exhibits sit in a line with other exhibits, but in this case, the booth abuts a wall along the perimeter of the show floor. Typically this allows for larger height allowances for your display.
  • Peninsula booth: Access to a peninsula booth is open on three sides to aisles, offering more visibility than an inline booth. The remaining side usually abuts a line of inline booths or another peninsula booth. A peninsula booth’s area is usually at least 10 x 20 feet.
  • Island booth: Island exhibits are surrounded by aisles on all four sides, allowing for the most possible visibility for the exhibit display. This is usually the most expensive option, and usually has an area no smaller than 20 x 20 feet.

Larger displays like perimeter booths and island booths also allow for the possibility of double-deck, or two-level, booths. While expensive, double-deck booths can be useful for accommodating private meeting areas for clients.

You will also need to decide whether to rent or purchase your booth. Rental is more budget-friendly in the short term, but if you plan to attend frequent conventions purchasing a booth may prove more cost effective over time. Either way, exhibit solutions companies offer booths that can fit 10 x 10, 8 x 10, 10 x 12, 10 x 20, 20 x 20 and even larger foot trade show spaces.

What Do I Need for My Trade Show Booth?

The necessities for your custom trade show exhibit will depend on your space size, budget and priorities. Some people want manageable, portable trade shows displays, while others want a more elaborate booth. No matter your needs, consider these recommended trade show display products:

  • Trade show banners
  • Retractable banner stands
  • Table skirts
  • Pop up trade show booth displays
  • Tabletop displays such as tri-folds
  • Lighting fixtures, such as floodlights and LED lights
  • Tension fabric displays, which pull over frames for high-quality signage
  • Custom modular displays and booths, which are adaptable to fit different spaces
  • Touchscreen kiosks

These products are just the basics for building a convention booth. When it comes to creating an eye-catching design, you’ll need to think more creatively.

How to Design a Trade Show Booth

Think of a well-designed trade show booth as an investment. Attending a trade show is expensive, and that cost will only pay off if you take your exhibit display seriously. You only have a second to grab a potential client’s attention before they risk passing right by you. Use these eye-catching and creative trade show booth ideas to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Simple messaging: Because your booth needs to make an instant impression, your display on the show floor should send a clear, immediate message to anyone who sees it. Think of one main idea you want prospective clients and visitors to remember, and write a powerful, concise headline that expresses it. Pair it with imagery that matches the tone of the headline.

Consistent tone: Visually, your show floor design should be consistent -- don’t use too many different colors or fonts. A few bold, striking colors and well-chosen fonts will make a stronger statement than a visually overwhelming hodgepodge of different ideas. You don’t want to confuse potential clients with an unclear tone.

Eye-level imagery: Remember to keep messaging at eye-level so that those scanning the room are likely to see what you’re offering. And be sure to arrange larger items behind smaller items to maintain sightlines, especially if you’re in an inline booth space. If you need more help conceptualizing your booth, exhibit designers are available at companies that sell trade show display products.

How to Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out

trade show booth area

So you have a great product, outstanding customer service, a cleanly designed booth and a clear message. That still might not be enough to make your trade show booth stand out. The trade show floor will be teeming with gimmicks, gadgets and gizmos designed to give displays an edge over the competition. A few reliable exhibit display ideas will give your booth extra panache.

  • Visuals: Basics like trade show banners and tabletop displays are a must for brand exposure. But an appealing booth also needs physical, three-dimensional items to pair with your display imagery. This will add texture and tangibility to your trade show booth that will make a stronger visual impact. If you sell products, your exhibit should include examples or models of your offerings that people can see and touch.
  • Flooring: You might not think about it, but the flooring makes a huge difference in enhancing your trade show booth. Whether you’re going for colorful, sharp or classy, eye-catching floor tiles will help your exhibit stand out on the trade show floor.
  • People: The most impactful tool to set your trade show booth apart from the crowd is your people. It starts with appearance: A trade show booth staff dressed professionally will convey that they take their job seriously, but you can go even further. Wearing customized, company-branded clothing in a bold, uniform color will make an immediate visual impact and send a consistent message to attendees.

Interactive Trade Show Booth Ideas

Trade shows are work, but at your booth, it shouldn’t feel like it. Engage trade show visitors by giving them an opportunity to have fun as they learn about your business. These tried-and-true ideas will make for an interactive exhibit display:

  • Raffles
  • Giveaways
  • Trivia contests/game shows
  • Carnival games
  • Arcade games
  • Free samples

When it comes to trade show booth ideas, you can always count on raffles, contests and branded giveaways to generate enthusiasm. People like to win things, and you want to associate your brand with the anticipation and excitement that comes with a prize. A spinning prize wheel can add visual flair on the show floor and lets people know that something exciting is going on at your booth.

Trivia games can also be a good way to get people working their brains at your booth. Make it familiar by following formats of popular shows like “Jeopardy.” Design questions that relate to your business, but don’t make them so specific that they alienate those who aren’t intimately aware of its ins and outs. Give out company-branded prizes to the winners.

Arcade games, carnival games and yard games can also make your booth a destination on the trade show floor. But make sure you incorporate elements that educate visitors about your business or adds brand recognition. All that fun ultimately needs to be in service of gaining a new client.

And don’t forget: No matter how much cool stuff you pack into your booth, it’s ultimately up to your trade show booth staff to attract visitors and engage them. Your team will be tasked with welcoming trade show attendees fee and explaining how to interact with your games and gadgets.

The Best High-Tech Trade Show Booth Ideas

Old-school fun and games can only go so far these days. New technology is changing the expectations for trade show booths, and you don’t want to be left behind. Attendees want to be wowed by advanced gadgets. And you want to send the message that your business is on the cutting edge of the industry. Try these creative ways to incorporate technology into your trade show booth:

  • Augmented reality
  • Virtual reality
  • Audiovisual displays
  • Video walls
  • Touch screen kiosks
  • iPads
  • Charging stations

One of the most exciting ways to engage trade show visitors is augmented reality. Here’s how it works: The technology overlays reality with images and messaging that can be seen either on your visitor’s smartphone or on display screen at your booth. Think Pokemon Go.

Augmented reality provides an opportunity to have visitors see more of your branding on the environment around them. You can also use augmented reality for virtual product demonstrations, games, announcements and more.

A step further is virtual reality, where people use devices like headsets to interact with a totally virtual environment. Rather than adding imagery to the real world around them, virtual reality transports users to an entirely different environment. By working with a developer on either augmented reality or virtual reality, you can take your trade show booth to the next level.

Less ambitious, but still stimulating ways to incorporate interactive technology include audio-visual displays. The use of touchscreens, whether on iPads, custom branded kiosks, or touch-sensitive walls, will give visitors a hands-on experience at your booth.

Technology can be practical, as well. After spending hours at a trade show, many visitors will be desperate to charge their phones. Providing a charging station at your booth is a reliable way to attract people to your booth.

As with games and contests, you’ll rely on your trade show booth staff to show people how to use the eye-catching technology you have on display. From there, they’ll hopefully turn that initial interest into sales.

How to Increase Trade Show Booth Traffic

trade show booth lights

What’s the best way to get attendees to your trade show booth? Have people already there. It’s a positive feedback loop: A booth that has drawn a crowd will pique the curiosity of others. They won’t want to miss out. So it’s important to be consistent throughout the day, giving people continuous reasons to stop by your booth.

  • Eye-catching visuals: Appealing visuals are going to be the first step to drawing crowds to your trade show booth. Clear branding, large imagery and a consistent color scheme will make a statement right off the bat. Flashier elements like video screens, promotional games and contests will also lure in passersby.
  • Welcoming booth staff: Don’t underestimate a friendly face: Your trade show booth staff is a huge part of what makes your display successful. A warm, enthusiastic greeting to passing visitors is the best way to start a conversation with a potential client. From there, proper trade show booth staff etiquette will keep these customers-to-be engaged. Your customer service is key.
  • Social media: Relying on foot traffic passing by your booth can be limiting. Cast a wider net by engaging on social media. Find out if the trade show has a preferred hashtag, and post pictures on social media. Respond to others using the hashtag, and tag businesses you’re hoping to attract.

Make Your Trade Show Booth Worth the Investment

Don’t forget that the goal of a trade show booth is not ultimately to entertain people. If someone walks away from your booth with nothing but a good time, all the effort you put into your custom exhibit display hasn’t paid off. In the end, you need a good return on investment to make a trade show experience worthwhile. And that means securing new clients and customers.

You’ll need to back up your style with substance. Send your most informed and knowledgeable team members as your booth staff. Have them prepared with a script of key points to hit upon with clients. Teach them good body language -- smile, stand up straight, keep arms uncrossed and out of pockets, avoid fidgeting -- and make sure they listen actively to potential customers.

When a sale can’t be closed during the event, your team should be ready to hand out literature, business cards and custom-branded promotional items to keep your company’s name in a prospective client’s mind after the event.

Keep an email list that visitors can sign up for, allowing you to follow up with high-quality leads after the trade show ends. Don’t wait -- the faster you check in, the fresher in their mind you will be.

Set Yourself up for Trade Show Success

trade show booth contract

Much of the work that makes for a successful trade show experience happens before you even get to the booth. There several ways to lay the groundwork for a good return on investment.

Before the event, identify trade show attendees who strike you as potential clients. Work to set up meetings in advance to guarantee time with them -- you can’t count on them stopping by on their own. You can also encourage clients you already have to come to the show. It’s usually easier to increase your business with an existing client than it is to secure a brand new one.

Take time to scout out your competition at the trade show. You don’t want to dedicate too much time to this since your resources should be committed to bringing business. But it doesn’t hurt to get a sense of the competitive landscape. You might just learn something.

Key Trade Show Booths Tips

Your exhibit is equipped with eye-catching visuals, interactive technology and a crack team. But don’t lose sight of the basics. These trade show booth essentials:

  • Keep the booth clean. A neat and tidy booth shows that your organization is professional and sleek. While your staff needs to stay fed and hydrated, they shouldn’t eat at the booth -- you don’t want to risk any trash left in the display area.
  • Wear comfortable clothes: Trade shows mean a lot of standing and walking over the course of long days. While booth staff should be sure to dress professionally, they should also wear comfortable clothes and shoes that will keep them happy throughout the long hours.
  • Visitor comfort: Don’t forget your potential clients’ needs. A comfortable booth will encourage them to stay longer. Don’t overcrowd your exhibit. While your staff should remain standing when possible, have seating on hand for visitors who need it. This will show that you have their needs in mind.

Ship Your Trade Show Booth Equipment with Ease

Now that you know how to set up your trade show booth, learn how to ship your display to the event with ease. R+L Global Logistics can get your trade show booth display and products to the event safe and on time. To learn about trade show shipping services, chat, email or call R+L Global at 866-415-8986.

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