Although your focus when planning a trade show booth needs to be your product, and even when your signage and presentation is what will attract people, you can never underestimate the importance of lighting for a successful exhibit, whether you're attending a trade show in Austin or Orange County. Planning lighting needs to be done early in the process, and you need to keep your lighting designers on the loop and aware of every change to your exhibit, as small and insignificant as it might seem to you.
Plan the Lighting Early
By planning the lighting with the rest of the display, you can make sure there is room for all the lighting equipment. You don't want the lights arrangement to look unprofessional or thrown together at the last minute.
Also, by planning the lighting as you design your signage and trade show exhibits, you can assure that the lights will complement your design without leaving dark areas or causing bothersome glare.
Also, never neglect keeping your lighting design team in the know of any changes, so they can plan accordingly. Imagine changing a surface from wood to acrylic and not letting your light designers know. All of a sudden you might have to deal with a really unpleasantly bright area.
Include the Lights in Your Diagrams
If you don't include your lighting design on your plans, the venue and/or organizer might say that they did not approve of the necessary rigging and truss. It is much better to spend a little extra time making sure you cover every possible issue and planning need before the show than having to make haste changes at the last minute. Trust me, you will have enough to worry about and you will NOT need something else to stress over.
Be Aware of All the Costs
When it comes to costs, don’t assume anything. Different states, cities, and venues might have different fees. Contact the organizer early and learn about any operational charges. Electricity is one of those costs that you can't avoid, and, as a rule of thumb, budget $3 dollars for every amp of electricity you use, plus installation labor.
Know the Venue
You have attended different trade shows and they all the venues probably looked kind of the same. You can visualize the place without all the exhibits and colorful signs and they might come down to just a really big concrete cube. And yet, there is a lot behind the scene that you might not be aware of or considered. The location of power sources and the power capacity, for example, varies a lot among them. The height and structure of the ceilings can also make a huge difference on both opportunities and limitations when it comes to signage and lighting.
By becoming familiar with your spot in the venue before the event you can figure out what your resources and restrictions will be and you will be able to plan accordingly. Your solution can be as simple as having an extension cord or as complicated as having a custom set up.
It would, of course, be to your great advantage to be the only exhibitor in the show with a backup plan in case of a blackout. And the nice thing about such a plan is that you can bag it and use it in your next event.
Avoid Last-Minute Changes
As we mentioned before, don't forget to keep your lighting design team aware of any changes. This means that if making last minute changes will hinder them from help you, you should not make those changes. Some problems you may run into by making such last-minute changes include blocked lights, glare, ventilation issues, and the always dreaded additional costs in the form of new fixtures, adaptors, redesign, etc.