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The Discovery Process – The Dos and Don’ts of Trade Show Booth Creation

It finally happened.

After years of begging and pleading with everyone from Sales Reps to the CFO, there has finally been money budgeted to create a new trade show booth for your company. You are so excited you tell everyone from the Barista at Starbucks to your kid’s teacher at school. The hard work is done, right?

Wrong. The creation and selection of a new trade show booth is probably one of the hardest tasks faced by exhibitors. With so many booth options and considerations, not to mention staff opinions about the look and functionality, this is surely bound to result in meetings where you wonder why you did this to yourself in the first place.

Don’t despair just yet, here are some key dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you design your next trade show booth:




  • Find an exhibit partner. Exhibiting companies have vast amounts of knowledge and experience at your disposal. Use them to help make sure you are avoiding common exhibiting mistakes.
  • List out SPECIFIC space requirements. Do you need closets or tables with storage? If so, how large should they be? Do they need internal shelving? Also, don’t be vague and say things like “technology.” Are you looking for stagnant monitors to play looping videos or interactive kiosks where attendees can interface with iPads while speaking to booth staffers? The ability to say exactly what you want or need in the booth can be very difficult, as the discovery process is overwhelming. Try to audit your last few events with your current booth and determine what things worked and didn’t work to determine your new booth requirements.
  • Make sure you are clear on how much of the booth should reconfigurable. Custom modular exhibits are a great way to use the same parts and components in different configurations to grow your booth from an inline to an island. Remember – It’s always best to configure your crating for whichever exhibiting solution you will use more. For example, if your inline 10 x 20 booth will get more of a work out than your 20 x 20 will, have your crating optimized for your 10 x 20.
  • Determine the “pain point” of your staffer. If you expect your booth staffers to set up the display, make sure everyone is aware of the time requirement to do so. With booth options ranging from the air-powered Skyline WindScape® Exhibit System (request a brochure here…it’s amazing!) to custom solutions, it is important to know what your staffers will be willing to setup on the show floor and set the right expectations.


  • Take the exhibit as seen on the first concept rendering as the final design. Design is a fluid process, expect to make tweaks along the way. Sometimes the way something is shown in a rendering will be exactly what you want. Sometimes it will be off the mark. The more information you can give about what you don’t like will help your exhibit house in determining what changes to make to the design.
  • Get hung up on the one thing you didn’t see in the rendering or on the one thing that looks different at the show. Accessories like monitors, furniture, and flooring can all change right up until the show. Often in the rendering phase items like tables and chairs are inserted merely as placeholders for spatial awareness. Also, make sure you understand exactly what has been included in your exhibit pricing, no one likes a surprise on the price tag.
  • Judge a booth by its cover…or its budget. Ever go window shopping and think, “If only I had the money to afford that,” without ever stopping to ask the price? The same holds true with trade show booths. I’ve seen lots of amazing booth designs on every size budget because there are solutions for every budget! The ability to rent a display allows the freedom to own graphics but change hardware into new and exciting configurations. If you see something you like make sure to let your exhibit partner know that (photos are helpful!). Also, be honest about your budget. If your firm budget is $20K, but you would be more comfortable spending $15K tell your exhibit partner that. Keeping your budget a secret is a surefire way to end up disappointed. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a booth you can’t have because it was designed over budget.

There are lots of other considerations for trade show booths; these are just a few tips to get you along the path of selecting the correct booth solution. Happy Exhibiting!

Even with a brand new trade show booth, there are still many other areas that need attention while exhibiting. Get your free copy of the Trade Show Marketing Idea Kit to expand on and improve your best practices.

About the Author

Clarissa was a Project Manager at Skyline Exhibits of Central Ohio, located in Columbus, Ohio.

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