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10 Activity Zones For Your Island Trade Show Exhibit

When your trade show exhibit gets beyond a simple inline booth, you open up your exhibiting world to a wealth of greater possibilities.  While it would be highly unlikely you would be able to include all 10 of these zones in one exhibit, use this list as an idea generator for what kinds of activities your booth can incorporate to accomplish your trade show objectives.


1- Reception Desk

Reception Desk

When your booth is large, it helps to have a reception desk to give visitors a more comfortable way to enter into your booth and engage with a staffer who, by virtue of sitting or standing behind the reception desk, is expected to know where their sales rep is in the booth, or where they can go to see a demo of the product they are interested in.


2- Product Demo


With an island exhibit, you have more space to showcase and demonstrate your new or popular products.  Be sure to light it up well and to make it easy for attendees to see what makes your product better.  By the way, research shows that a product demo is one of the most memorable things you can do in your exhibit.


3- Product Display


This is different than a demo area, as the product is expected to stay on a shelf, wall, floor or podium.  The temptation is to bring in lots of product to have everything you make available to show, but by concentrating on your best sellers and your new products you prevent creating clutter that scares away visitors.


4- Casual Meeting


While you may only have room for one or two casual meetings in your inline booth space, you can arrange for multiple places where a booth staffer can talk with one or two attendees at a time. Often there are chairs, a table or counter, and perhaps some AV support such as an iPad, a laptop, or even a flat screen monitor.  This is where you take most of your leads.


5- Private Meeting


When you have larger groups and especially when you, your visitors, or both of you don’t want the rest of the world seeing that you are meeting, then a private meeting space with walls to block out the sound and prying eyes is in order.  These will include larger tables and upscale chairs, and can look like a conference room.  It may also include stairs if you have a double deck.


6- Theater


You really need the larger space of an island exhibit to host a theater in your booth.  This is almost always a place to give presentations to (hopefully) large groups.  Group presentations are a great way to get your story out to many people at once.  This requires a more sophisticated technology to show the video and amplify the voice of your presenter.


7- Attraction Activity or Entertainment


More and more exhibitors are creating an experience in their exhibit or some type of activity to get attention or interaction.  You can host some kind of entertainment in your booth, and have space for that activity to happen. I’d also include meeting celebrities or book signings in this category – you need a space for the fun to happen.  And cars. Race cars, prize cars, these definitely take space.


8- Hospitality


With a larger booth, you now have room for providing your guests with food and drinks, and maybe even a coffee bar.  Remember to include room for a refrigerator, even if it’s one of those dorm-room sized fridges. In Europe, it’s much more common to provide hospitality in your booth, as the meetings tend to last longer.


9- Storage


Even though you have a large booth space, every square foot is valuable.  That’s why storage space is often overlooked in favor of more client-facing places.  However, you will always have staffers bringing their coats and bags with them and wanting a place to put them.  Storage is also needed for promotional giveaways, office supplies, snacks, and drinks.  Tuck them away in lockable tables and closets.


10- Branding


While branding graphics or videos usually take little floor space, they do occupy a lot of vertical space on walls, towers, tables, and hanging signs above the booth.  Think of your branding graphics like you do an electrical junction box in your workplace – you need to leave at least several feet clear so that people can actually see them.  Some booths are so large they have separate areas for the different company, division, product, or market branding.


That’s 10 different types of common activity zones you can include in your island trade show booth.  Sometimes they are distinct areas, and sometimes they can be blended together. Find the balance between them and you’ll have an exhibit that builds your brand, helps generate leads, facilitates meetings, and hosts your booth staff.  That’s a perfect 10!

About the Author

Brian Gordon was a founding partner of Skyline Toronto before his retirement in 2018.

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