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Left-Handed Trade Show Floors?

Try to avoid the far left side of the trade show hall when choosing your exhibit space, and it will serve you well. Did you ever hear about the kids who attended Catholic School getting their hands cracked with a ruler for attempting to write with their left hand? We all have probably heard of this practice from family, friends or acquaintances. There is something we can learn from this, and apply to trade shows… go figure.No Left Turn Sign

Just like in the above example, it was in a kid’s best interest to avoid writing with their left hand [for self-preservation reasons if nothing else]… we can also use similar advice and avoid the left side of show hall when selecting an exhibit space. There is a natural phenomenon that occurs with people when they are attending a trade show, identified as “Left Side Fatigue.” What happens is that most attendees enter a trade show and start making their way from the right side of show hall over to the left. This is a direct function of most people being right-handed and so we are conditioned to start on the right side and make our way left. Show tracking statistics bear this out and we can learn from attendees’ habits.

This sounds obvious, and it is, yet we can see time and again organizations select spots that put them in the far left of the show hall. I cannot tell you the number of times I have personally started on the right side of the show hall and made my way from right to left. The end result of my journey in the show is to make it as far I can and then leave the hall at closing time, or when I get tired, or when I have a meeting to get to, or “fill in the blank.” We all have busy lives and the reality is this… Many attendees never make it to the far left side of the show hall.

Not all show spaces are created equal and this is a good example of one of the areas to potentially cross off your list of booth space options. Are there going to be exceptions to this… of course, there are exceptions. However, for the most part, we can count on the left side of the show hall getting less traffic and the far left of the show hall having a significant decrease in attendee traffic.

Bonus Tip: When possible, avoid the overflow areas of a trade show that are added onto the main space because the main floor is sold out. A good example is the LVCC in Las Vegas has a hall across a breezeway at the neighboring hotel (formerly the Hilton). This space has lower traffic, simply because it is not on the main path. If however, this is the only space you can get into, then something is far better than not going to the show.

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About the Author

As President of Skyline Exhibitor Source, John focuses on the overall vision and direction of the company's large exhibit projects and provides guidance in education, implementation and creative ideation. John has been directly involved in the trade show industry for the past 16 years, and the past 11 years as President of his company that helps clients get the most from their Nashville trade show booths.

7 responses to “Left-Handed Trade Show Floors?

  1. An interesting post but I have to disagree, sorry. There are a few factors at play here. Firstly, a well designed floorplan encourages an even traffic flow and provides a reason for the majority of the visitors to visit most areas on the floor. These reasons may include show attractions or facilities, such as the food outlets and bathrooms. Another factor to consider is how many entrances the show has and where the entrance(s) are positioned. If the entrance is on the left, visitors will start at the left. If the entrance is central, the visitors is likely to make a choice to start at one side and make their way across the show. If there is more than one entrance, the Show Organiser should demonstrate that all entrances can expect to see a good traffic flow by giving each visitor group a designated entrance.

    The layout of venues differ and it is up to the Organiser to ensure that exhibitors in all areas of the floorplan see great traffic flow.

  2. There are a multitude of things that can be done by the show organizer to draw traffic to the left side of any given hall. As such, there may be legitimate reasons for selecting a space to the left. The statistics that I am referring to are generally about the overall behavior that people demonstrate on the average show floor. There are exceptions.

    Generally speaking avoiding the left is a good tactic. If your option is the left or nothing, then it may be better to take the left.

    As an aside, I contend that if you want to save your left hand fingers in a Catholic school… avoid the left as well.

  3. Could you please cite the study(ies) that support the lack of traffic flow on the left (all things being equal)? I can’t recommend this to clients without substantiated data.

    Thank you.

  4. Rhonda, thank you for your comment. The reference for “left-handed trade shows” comes from a seminar entitled “Maximize Your Trade Show ROI.” That information likely came from MarketTech, CIER, HSEA, Sales and Marketing Management, or CEMA.

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