Choosing the best way to display your products or services at a trade show is a challenge for any exhibitor, especially if it is your first time exhibiting. You want to attract as much attention as possible to your stand but it also needs to be a practical area to talk to customers and demonstrate your products.

The layout of your booth will affect how welcoming you look to visitors so consider the furniture that you need carefully. You need somewhere for people to sit and relax but don’t want to overload the space.

The type of stand you choose will determine how you set up your trade show booth. It is possible to self-build smaller pop-up and modular stands without the need for specialist tools. They have lightweight aluminium frames which ‘pop up’ and slot together, then the graphic panels fit them, usually with magnets. Your stand designer should build your stand for you when you buy it to demonstrate exactly how it works.

If you are going to self-build you need a solution that is straightforward, lightweight and tool-free, but without sacrificing stand design for simplicity – you need something that stands out to ensure you get noticed. Custom modular stands give you the benefits of a unique custom-built stand but with the practicality and versatility of a modular stand. They are a flexible solution that can be self-built, stored easily and reconfigured for future events.

If you have bought a more elaborate custom modular stand it may be better to let your exhibition stand contractor build it for you. Although it is possible to self-build any modular stand, the larger and more complex it is the more likely you are to benefit from an experienced installer, either to assist you or build the whole stand. If you have opted for a custom-built stand, that will always require a team of specialist installers to build.

Planning Your Stand

Although many exhibition venues have a maximum stand height, some larger venues have extremely high ceilings. Stand height cannot exceed 4 metres without specialist surveys. But you can still maximise visibility by incorporating high signage, suspended props, or incorporate a tower with a rotating sign so you catch attendees’ eyes from the moment they enter tthe exhibition and attract them to your stand. But anything suspended must be put up by the organisers rigging contractors.

The graphics should be large and bold to attract attention, don’t be tempted to put too much text on them, no-one will read it and it will look too busy. Think about the lighting and don’t necessarily rely on what’s supplied by the venue. Spotlights, up lights and coloured lights are a great way to highlight certain areas within your exhibition stand, particularly if you want to showcase something, such as a new product.

As well as the stand displaying the graphics you need to consider what else you have in your stand space. It is a good idea to have at least one table and chairs for visitors to sit at. If you have room, an area with comfortable seating will help potential customers feel relaxed if they want to have more detailed discussions. Some form of desk or table where you can display promotional items and take visitor details is useful. That will also give somewhere to store personal items such as bags or phones, if you don’t have space for a store room. You will need somewhere to display your brochures – a standard literature rack isn’t particularly eye-catching – build a way of displaying brochures into your stand design instead.

Improve the flow of your display area by ensuring there are no physical obstructions or barriers on entering, and try to keep meeting areas to the back of your stand.

Consider how you are going to demonstrate your products or services – will you need iPads or a TV screen to run demonstrations or can it be done by the staff? Having screens that visitors can interact with is a good way to attract attention. Also, think about what promotional items you are going to give out as these also draw visitors in. Try to come up with something useful like a USB stick rather than the usual pens.

Booking the Space

Try to get a copy of the floorplan as soon as the trade show is announced, it’s a good idea to book early – you’ll get your chosen space and may be able to negotiate an early-bird discount. Try to book a space where there is a lot of passing traffic. Near but not right by the entrance, by a restaurant or at an intersection are good options. You can book either space only, which means you will have to supply flooring, lighting and power. Or you can book a shell scheme that includes walls, lights, flooring and power. If you intend to self-build your stand, a shell scheme is probably the best bet, unless you have an electrician to hand!

At the Trade Show

If you are self-building, on the build day make sure you arrive early as there is often a queue to get your vehicle into the hall or unloading area. There will be a lot of other companies and exhibition stand contractors also descending on the venue to set up so queues to get in may be inevitable. Check that your space has all that you requested – is the flooring what you expected? If you booked a shell scheme are the electrics in the right place? If you asked for amendments to the shell scheme have they been done? If not, you need to notify the help desk straight away, they will have contractors on site who can deal with it but it may take some time for them to get to you.

Make sure you have enough staff – both to build the stand and man it. Working on a stand at a trade show is hard work, you need to have enough staff so that they can take regular breaks. But don’t overload the stand with too many executives either, there needs to be room for visitors. Ensure that staff look presentable and are trained to be welcoming, they should be focused on visitors rather than chatting to each other. Ban phones and food from the booth, neither gives a good impression to attendees. Make sure personal items are stored away out of sight, not left lying around, cluttering up the booth.

Try to gather as many leads as possible, make it a competition between staff. After the show, make sure they are entered onto a database and followed up within 3 weeks. Most leads gathered at trade shows are not followed up, making the whole event a bit of a waste of time and money.

Following these tips on how to set up a trade show booth should ensure you have a successful event. If you would like to talk to one of our designers about your trade show requirements phone 01202 723 500, email designteam@quadrant2design.com or fill out this contact form.