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Private Meeting Areas at Trade Shows


Many trade shows offer designated lounges that can be used for conducting one-on-one discussions with clients. But having a private area in your booth offers more scheduling flexibility, and eliminates the need to change locations when a critical conversation is needed. Such in-booth privacy makes it easy for your clients to share private insights on their company goals, or to sit down and negotiate contracts.

But what type of private area works for you? Much depends on the nature of your business, the types of on-floor discussions you expect to have with clients, and especially the size of your booth.

In this post, we’ll discuss the merits of open, semi-private and exclusive meeting areas, and discuss the pros and cons of each.

SMALL BOOTH SPACES – OPEN MEETING AREASIf your booth space is small, your options for creating a private meeting space are similarly limited. But even having a couple of chairs and a table, set off from the main exhibit by a wall or other vertical design element, can create a feeling of separation from general booth traffic. Arranging chairs in a circle can communicate an air of discussion, thus reducing the chance that VIPs will be interrupted by colleagues and acquaintances in the middle of a meeting. It will also help prevent the area from being mistaken as a lounge by non-target attendees. The downside to such open designs, of course, is less privacy and the potential of distraction from floor noise or booth traffic. But if your conversations are more about fact-finding and giving the client a sense of personal attention, these offset areas in your booth may be more than sufficient for one-on-one time with hot prospects.

MEDIUM BOOTH SPACES – SEMI-PRIVATE AND PRIVATE AREASIf your booth is more of a medium size, your options for private meeting spaces begin to expand. For years, a secluded back-booth area or enclosed, opaque-walled 10×10 conference area were common ways to create a space for critical dialog. But such spaces can at times seem a bit claustrophobic. More recently, booth design trends have focuses on semi-secluded spaces that give you and your clients privacy, but also allow some visibility of the show floor. VIP clients can feel more like they’re being led into another area the exhibit, rather than into what feels like a more onerous interrogation room. The semi-open design creates a less stodgy booth appearance and more flexibility for overall booth design. Just as importantly, your partial visibility to people on the floor can pique interest from others on the floor (especially with the use of sheer graphics). Attendees will wonder what they are missing out on, and may be more inclined to enter your booth to learn more about your offerings.

LARGE BOOTH SPACES – LUXE PRIVACYWhen your budget and square footage are high, the options for private meeting space are similarly boundless. A larger booth space also allows for a combination of private and semi-private meeting areas. One trend we’ve definitely seen is the interest in double-decker booths. Elevated floors in booths are like the luxury boxes at sporting stadiums; being invited upstairs carries an implicit “VIP” treatment. By nearly doubling your booth space without doubling floor space, two-story booths can let you turn your private area into a truly immersive experience, whether you design them as comfortable lounges or as private theaters for critical presentations. One of the custom double-deckers designed by Skyline included five conference rooms, a VIP lounge, a coffee bar, and a 77-foot deck! Such elevated conference space offer total discussion privacy, and provide guests with an exclusive escape from the show floor.

Your show activity will ultimately decide what type of private meeting space you need. If you don’t expect to close a lot of deals on the floor, or aren’t discussing trade secrets, then a semi-private space may be sufficient. But for those for whom privacy is a critical part of exhibiting, a variety of booth options exist to help you provide a VIP experience for your clients.

Below are some examples: E.ON wanted a smaller, private meeting room with lighting and frosted panels to create an original look. Their exhibit also has a semi-private meeting area with sheer graphics that help block out noise from the trade show floor. And FPL asked for a private conference room and dining area.

Getting Booth Visitors Via Online & Social Promotions White Paper

In this book Skyline has compiled 26 blog posts originally published in the Skyline Trade Show Tips blog. The posts combine information about social media tools and tactics, pre- and at-show promotions, digital marketing tools and general marketing tips.

From experienced trade show consultants, traditional marketers and digital marketing practitioners, these authors know Trade Shows and how to leverage modern marketing tools to help draw new and returning visitors to your trade show or event.

About the Author

Mary Rita Crowe is a Chicago native and the Managing Director at Skyline Exhibits Chicago. She has been in the trade show industry for 15 years working with companies to provide Chicago trade show displays and solutions.

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