So you’ve decided you’d like to exhibit. What should you do next? Where should you exhibit?  With hundreds of exhibitions happening all over the world each week it can be daunting trying to find the right one. Several factors need to be taken into account before you book your space at a trade show. Careful planning will help to avoid costly mistakes and ensure that your show is a success. A big part of planning is figuring out where to exhibit.



Before you start researching where to exhibit, you must understand your business’s aims and objectives for the exhibition.

These may be:

  • To generate leads or sales
  • To raise awareness about your company
  • To network with industry peers
  • To launch a new product or service
  • To strengthen relationships with customers
  • To make new partnerships within the industry

Defining your objectives and outlining your intentions is key to deciding which type of exhibition is right for your business. Every trade show is different and therefore attracts a different audience. If your objective is to generate leads you might find a larger exhibition more beneficial as there is higher footfall. On the other hand, if your objective is to raise awareness about your business you might prefer a smaller exhibition that gives you more opportunities to connect with customers.


Once you have outlined your objectives for the exhibition it is time to set a budget. The biggest venues in the UK charge £300-£350 per square metre, which means even a small exhibition stand space could cost you upwards of £3,000. Smaller shows cost much less but attract a smaller crowd.

The amount that you spend on the space could be completely wasted if you don’t invest in your exhibition stand design. You want something bold that attracts attention to draw in the crowds, therefore it is worth investing what you can. Expect to pay more for a good quality stand than you have done for your floor space.  Different types of exhibition stand design cost different amounts but generally a stand to fill a £3,000-floor space would cost in the region of £5,000.

This is key to running a successful exhibition. Many first time exhibitors don’t achieve the ROI that they were expecting due to a lack of investment in their exhibition stand design. It is possible to reduce costs by purchasing pull-up banners or alternative signage and placing that onto your floor space. However, this type of display does not attract crowds and may not give you the authority needed to generate sales within your industry.

As well as the floor space and stand you can expect to incur other expenses such as stand dressing and decoration, lighting, power points, furniture, sales literature, staff training, travel, food and accommodation. Again, these costs can vary depending on whether you buy or rent your stand and how far in advance you organise the trip.


At this stage, you are aiming to make a list of all the potential types of exhibition that would suit your business. Trade Fair Dates and EventsEye are good places to start, but you should conduct further research to ensure you are not missing any important and relevant trade shows.

Your aim should be to gather as much information as possible about each expo. This should include the events statistics, attendee numbers, demographics, and previous participants.

There are several ways to go about conducting research. You can use:

  • Internet search
  • Word of mouth
  • LinkedIn
  • Industry-specific publications
  • Verified industry review sites like Tradefest or subscribe to a venues mailing list.

By using your business objectives and budget to filter the results you should be left with a handful of exhibitions that suit your objectives. You can categorise your list of trade shows by price, size, country, industry, or date to make it easier to decide which one to exhibit at.


Correctly identifying your consumer demographic is key to running a successful marketing campaign. You are looking into which type of exhibition is best for your business, but what you need to ask yourself is which exhibition is best for your audience.

The two largest vaping expos in the UK are The Vaper Expo and Vape Jam. Although both trade shows are targeting decision-makers from the same industry, the slight difference in focus means that they attract different audiences. Vape Jam has introduced seminars and workshops to attract a B2B clientele. The Vaper Expo is open to the general public as well as industry professionals, so you could reach a different audience altogether.

Studies show that 40%-60% of attendees will come from within a 200-mile radius, but they aren’t only visiting big industry events. Your most important customers could regularly attend smaller exhibitions, which is why it is essential to conduct first-hand research. Ask your customers which exhibitions they are visiting this year, and guarantee your business a booth space at an event that you know your target audience is attending.


You would be forgiven for thinking that ExCel London is the largest venue in the UK. Although popular for its London location, it is smaller than the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. A large proportion of exhibitions take place at one of these two venues, but there are other events held all over the UK including Olympia London, Manchester Central, Bournemouth International Centre, SECC Glasgow and many more.

Often it is worth considering international trade fairs. Remember, most attendees are willing to travel 200+ miles to visit particular trade shows. There are major exhibition venues based across Europe such as Hanover Fairground, Messe Dusseldorf, RAI Amsterdam, Messe Berlin, as well as locations across the globe.

You should not make any firm decisions on an exhibition based on the venue, it is much more about where your target audience is going to be. On the other hand, the location of a trade show could significantly impact your expenses. Travel, accommodation, and food costs will vary according to the venue and location.


A large majority of these events have been going for some time and have built a reputation for themselves. The Anuga Food Fair is held every other year at the Cologne Messe and is the world’s largest and most important food and beverage exhibition. Throughout 100 years they have built a social media following and tens of thousands of returning visitors and exhibitors. It is their reputation that keeps people coming back.

Deciding to exhibit at a brand new show can be riskier as it has had less time to gain trust and respect within the industry. If the type of exhibition aligns itself with your brand, it is worth taking a look at the history of the event.

You can also keep an eye out for a particular trade show’s list of exhibitors. These lists provide you with information on all of the businesses that will be appearing at that expo. This means that you can find out which exhibitions your competitors, rivals, and target market will be attending.


Timing is crucial if you are hoping to make a significant return on investment (ROI). Getting the timing right could bring additional benefits. The first thing to consider is your customers’ buying patterns – is it a good time of year for your business? Do you usually see an influx in sales at that time of year? Will you have something new and exciting to debut?

Understanding your audience and their spending habits will enable you to consider the timings of your exhibition to maximise ROI.

Finally, pay attention to other types of exhibition going on in that area (even if they have nothing to do with your industry). An influx of people visiting a certain area can cause travel and accommodation prices to increase, making the overall trip more expensive for your business.


By this point, you probably have a rough idea of which industry exhibition you would like to attend. You need to start looking at space availability. Each type of exhibition booth location is different, and that can hugely affect the amount of traffic that your exhibit attracts.

Furthermore, they are all different shapes and sizes, so you need to consider that when buying your exhibition stand. Modular stands can easily be reconfigured so are a great idea for businesses looking to visit multiple trade shows with different booth sizes.

A bad space at the right show will make it a bad show for you. If you are going to invest in exhibiting, you need to make sure you are getting the best possible space.


Attending an exhibition is also a good PR opportunity. In some cases, the event itself will offer free PR and promotion through their website and social media channels. Any media exposure can boost your ROI but to gain the most relevant and effective press coverage you should contact registered media attendees with information about your business.

You can also ask the exhibition organisers for the press list from previous years, and get your foot in the door before your competitors. An industry event with few registered media attendees isn’t necessarily pointless as your target audience could be in attendance. Good PR will boost your potential to succeed and should be considered if you are yet to make your mind up about exhibiting at an event.


If you are planning the exhibition far enough in advance then it is highly recommended that you visit first as a guest. This will give you an insight into the types of businesses that exhibit, the general audience and expectations, the types of exhibition booth layout, and the flow of footfall. This will prepare you for negotiating your space and designing an exhibition stand that appeals to the audience.



As you can see, this is not a ‘one shoe fits all’ kind of scenario. Following these ten steps will enable you to carefully select a trade show that can deliver a significant return on investment.

The key is in the preparation and planning. Do your research, make sure you know what the exhibition is about, and turn up with an outstanding exhibition stand and you are bound to do well.

For help designing your exhibition stand, call us on 01202 723 500, or email