Space, as it turns out, is not “the final frontier.” In fact, it’s one of the first things you should consider when you start planning for your next trade show or event.
What amount of space is appropriate for your company and brand? How do you go about selecting the best spot for your presence on the show floor? And once you’ve selected it, how can you maximize that exhibit space? These are all important questions – and the tips below will hopefully help you to answer them.
Consider Budget First and Foremost
Before you even start thinking about what kind of size booth you want, it’s essential to have a clear sense of your company’s budget for the project. If you're working with a tighter budget, renting a booth, as opposed to purchasing it, is a great way to start. The overall costs of designing, building, implementing and storing your booth will be reduced to about a third of what they would be if you had purchased one outright. You can apply some of that savings toward your show fees, too, because regardless of how much it costs to develop your booth, space cost at many events can get quite expensive -- just to participate.
Know Your Booth’s Purpose
At the start of your space determination process, right alongside the “what can we afford” question, it’s also important to ask, “what is the reason we need this booth at the show?” When you have a clear sense of what role the booth is going to play for your company and brand on the show floor, you can start getting strategic about space. For example, it’s a big jump cost-wise to go from a 10x10 booth to a 20x20, but it might be one of the best marketing investments you’ll make if your goal is to stand out and have room for people to stay and move within your space. Is your goal to impress? To have meetings? To demo products? Perhaps it’s all or some combination of the above. Map out your goals to help determine the space required to achieve them.
Don’t Underestimate Your Brand
Picking the right size booth and space for your next show, as mentioned above, is important. It’s also important, however, to make sure you don’t under-size your space. Small booths can be effective in the right circumstances, but a booth that is too small for what you are attempting to accomplish at the show can become cluttered and appear not well thought out – and may even do more damage to your brand and image than having no booth at all.
Location, Location, Location
If you’re a first time exhibitor at a show, and it’s a well-attended event, such as CES or ComicCon, you’ll find your company pretty low on the pecking order in terms of who gets “first dibs” of available space locations. Don’t fret - this is simply part of the rules of the game and there are still tactics you can take to enhance your location, regardless of your seniority factor. Examine the show floor plan carefully in advance to determine whether there are any “obstacles” that might be a hindrance to your space. For example, look to avoid large columns, pillars and other obstructions that could interfere with the design or flow of your booth. Also, know where the fire extinguishers are located. At many shows you are not allowed to obstruct or build around extinguishers, so you might end up losing a chunk of your valuable real estate.
Consider Your Competition
When selecting your location for the show, it’s always important to have a sense of where your key competitors will be located. Depending on your industry and corporate strategy, you may want to be saddled right along side the competition – or as far away from them as possible! Either way, it will be helpful to know where their booths are located so you can plan accordingly.
Know the Rules
Every show and convention is different, so having a “set system” that you apply to every show can be a mistake. For a huge show, such as CES, your booth can get lost in the crowd if you don’t pick a location on or near a major aisle or close to the front. Also important is knowing the rules each event dictates for its exhibitors. To understand your space, you’ll need to know – for each show – what the height restrictions are, what kinds of signage are allowed, and perhaps most importantly - how booths are mandated to set up within a space. At some shows, a “20x20” is not actually 20x20 because the edges of your booth have to comply with specific borders within your space. This can be daunting, we know. That’s why we always recommend you…
Ask for Help
When it comes to determining space for a trade show, there are lots of moving parts and it can be challenging to get your arms around everything. Speaking with an expert who is experienced and knows about the particular show where you will be exhibiting can be a huge asset to your space-planning process. As noted above, every show is different, so a well-versed pro can help you determine what idiosyncrasies of a venue to be aware of and possibly avoid.
Hopefully by reviewing these suggestions, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when mapping out the amount of space you need in your booth design – and where that beautiful booth should be on the show floor once it’s ready!