How to Design a Trade-Show Booth (+3 Trade Show Trends for 2019)

Michelle Wong
Michelle Wong  |  May 21, 2019

The key to designing a trade show booth that really catches the attention of attendees is to treat them as if they were your guests. Your goal should be to provide them with a fantastic experience at your booth.

Trade show industry research shows that a trade show display booth only has about three seconds to catch the attention of and communicate to a potential customer as they walk by.

Attendees need to be able to immediately understand what your company offers. If not, they won’t bother stopping by. Remember that your trade show display will probably be one of many displays at the show, so you’re going to have lots of competition to stand out against.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about event marketing trends that will help you differentiate yourself from your competition and catch the attention of potential customers. There will also be practical examples of how to spice up your trade show booth on the exhibitor floor.

Trade-show booth design checklist

When exhibiting at a trade show, there are so many things to consider that go beyond the actual exhibitor booth for ensuring a smooth run. No matter the size of the show or how many people are in attendance, the most basic elements that need to be in place for a successful experience for both attendees and exhibitors are listed below.

WiFi

This is a must-have for any event and definitely expected by all attendees. Unfortunately, even at small events this is not a guarantee. With exhibitor stands becoming more interactive and using more technology, they often depend on a reliable internet connection. Otherwise, things become frustrating for both exhibitors and attendees if there are issues with technology.

Foot traffic

Event organizers should help drive foot traffic to the exhibitor area. You may have the most innovative and exciting booth in the world, but you won’t have any advantage if it’s hidden in a corner of the venue where no one ever passes by.

Be sure to see how the event planners will be managing the time and space of the conference in a way that also works in favor of exhibitors. Ask if they will be incorporating activities like gamification or promoting the exhibitor area through their communication channels such as mobile push notifications. 

TIP: Check out some of the best strategies for gamification in 2019.

Analytics

With new technologies being incorporated into the design of event experiences, it becomes a lot easier to deliver impactful insights into attendee behavior. For exhibitors and sponsors, this information is gold. Today, it’s possible to see exactly which areas of the conference venue have the highest foot traffic, compare numbers of booth visitors year-over-year to understand what’s worked best, and a variety of other data analytics.

Sure, not all event planners may want to use RFID or other event management software or tracking technologies, but it’s worth asking to see what options will be available. If they are providing an event app to attendees, it will usually include reporting tools that show you how many users clicked on an exhibitor profile or a sponsor ad. Be sure to request this data, or incorporate access to this data in your exhibitor package. 

TIP: Find the best event management software for your needs today! 

See the Easiest-to-Use Event Management Platforms →

Orientation

This element is particularly important for large trade shows. Have you ever exhibited at an event where people were constantly asking you for help in finding the restroom or session rooms? Perhaps you even spent more time pointing people in the right direction than having meaningful conversations with potential customers!

Check with the event planners on if detailed maps will be included in the event program. If there’s going to be an event app for the show, a good solution to this problem is to include interactive maps. Digital or printed signage is also a great way to help with orientation on-site.

3 trade show trends for 2019

There are four major trends for trade show booth design that we’ll be highlighting. And we’re not talking about short-lived trends that are here one year and gone the next. These trends are connected to larger shifts in society and will most likely influence our industry for years or decades to come.

1. Festivalization

There’s an overall tendency to make trade shows into big, sparkly events with a wow factor, which has led to grand expectations from attendees. Attendees are looking for unique experiences and want something to share on their social media pages with their coworkers and connections. To keep up with your attendees’ expectations, it’s important to bring an element of fun to your booth that is shareable on social media. Think: photo opportunities, branded swag, and an event hashtag related to your company!

2. Engagement

Engagement has strong ties to the festival factor, but it also works just fine without a lot of noise and action. Being engaged means being part of something and actively involved. Attendees don’t just want to be passive bystanders, they want to be active and try things out themselves. With this in mind, ideally, there should be an element of fun involved. 

IMEX GIF of smiling people

GIF courtesy of IMEX 2018

For example, the above is an animated image of attendees at IMEX 2018. It was taken in a 3D photo booth from a company called 360ties. Tools like these are not only fun to try out, but they also create something worth sharing on social media. They can play a significant role in making your event more memorable. 

Related: Read this guide on choosing the coolest event swag for your booth!

3. Sustainability and technology

Sustainability is more important than ever as people are becoming more environmentally conscious. In response to this value, attendees expect the same from the events they visit. Of course you shouldn’t only protect the environment because it’s trendy. Unfortunately, events produce a huge amount of waste, so it’s up to all of us to change the old way of doing things.  

Sustainability is also connected to technology. Technology has the massive ability to help you make your event more sustainable, especially by reducing the amount of paper that’s produced. You can cut down dramatically on paper programs you print with technology like event apps where your content can be digitized. 

TIP: Find the highest-rated event app software to get started!

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Do what makes sense for your trade show booth experience

When it comes to trade show booth trends, it’s easy to think that just because everyone else is doing something, you need to do it, too. But not everything that’s trendy will necessarily work for every type of organization. It depends on what your goals are for your booth presence and how the design of your booth will help impact the success of those goals.

In the end, design according to what makes sense to you and the kind of experience you’d like your guests to have. Those impressions and interactions will form the basis of meaningful connections. 

Planning an event of your own? Learn how an event planning checklist can help you manage the entire process.

Michelle Wong
Author

Michelle Wong

Michelle is the Content and Partner Marketing Manager at Eventmobi. Eventmobi an event app platform that helps manage the entire event or trade show process.