4 Ways to Pick the Best Booth Location at Your Next Trade Show

December 1, 2021

Briquelle Neyens

Briquelle Neyens is a digital marketer at Skyline Exhibits’ corporate office in St. Paul, Minn. Besides immersing herself in trade show research and the ins and outs of exhibit sales, she also engages with Skyline’s wide-array of products and services from an insider’s perspective. She enjoys generating information to help trade show marketers be successful on the show floor.

As you know, there are many factors that go into a successful trade show marketing program. It is important to have a booth that draws attention, brings your brand to life and functions properly. It is also important to have a trade show staff inside that booth who knows your business well, has a friendly and welcoming demeanor, and shows up to work hard and provide results. 

While both your booth itself and your booth staff are extremely important (in addition to a lengthy list of other factors like pre-show marketing, choosing the best trade shows for your business, having a great lead collecting system, selecting appropriate giveaways or promotions to draw people into your space and more) what’s a great booth, a great staff and a great product or service without a great spot on the show floor?

If you’re looking to level up your trade show marketing and grow your business, choosing the right spot on the trade show floor is one aspect that you need to prioritize with your exhibiting plans.

Just think about the last mall that you visited, which we realize may have been some time ago! Think about the main doors of that mall and all of the retailers that were right inside those doors. Oftentimes, many entrances to malls are also the entrance to a store, meaning that you’ll have to walk through that store to get to the rest of the building. Think about how much more exposure these stores get than the stores on the second floor at the very end of the hall. The difference in foot traffic can be drastic. 

While these high-exposure locations may come with a greater price tag, they just may come with a much better return on investment as well. The concept is similar when you’re selecting a location for your booth at your next trade show. However, not all businesses have the same budget, which means that the more obvious, high-traffic locations aren’t necessarily best for everyone. 

Here are a few tips to help you pick the best booth space for your business and a location on the show floor that works to your advantage:

1: Focus Your Efforts On a High-Foot-Traffic Location.

One of the most sought-after spots on a trade show floor is near the entrance, as well as along the major aisleways. This is where you will see the highest amount of foot traffic and have the first opportunity to catch the eyes of attendees entering the event. If you can get near the entrance of an event and it’s within budget, this is a great option that will certainly yield results.

However, these limited spots may come with a significantly higher price tagor require a larger booth space than you are accustomed to investing in. If you are a smaller business or are exhibiting for the first time at a show (meaning you have no seniority for the order in which you can select your space), a front-row booth is most likely out of the question. But don’t stop there and just assume that all of the other booth locations will be at the same “lower” level.

Booths toward the entrance are great, but they do come with some downsides. While some attendees will be coming in fresh and ready to jump at the first thing that catches their eye, others will hold off as they won’t want to commit to stepping into a booth until they’ve had a little while to look around and see their options. This is why secondary locations are also effective to secure. 

Let’s talk about other high-traffic areas.

There are more areas with high foot traffic than just the entrance area! These additional high-traffic locations can include the bathroom area, lounge areas or areas where food and drinks are being served and intersections where major aisles connect. In most cases, these spots will come with a much lower price tag. 

2: Gravitate Toward Major Brands Exhibiting At the Show. 

While high-foot-traffic areas are great at bringing attendees past your booth naturally, there are even more options that don’t rely so heavily on your typical crowd drawers like bathrooms and food stations. However, it’s great to know about these additional options, especially if you’re a little late to the game and spots are limited.

Another suggestion (if there is the option to do so) is to check out the floorplan, paying special attention to where the major brands in your industry and event sponsors are going to be located. Once you know their floor location, try to get your booth space as near to them as possible. These well-known businesses are naturally going to attract attendees just by being so high on attendees’ radars. 

Being larger companies, they will also most likely have a large exhibit that stands out and draws attention to it. If an exhibit can draw eyes from across the show floor, that’s a huge win. And it will be a win for you as this will become a higher-traffic area.

This is another great option to consider if you are struggling to find a space that’s near any of the high-foot-traffic locations mentioned earlier. Since attendees will gravitate toward popular brands, it doesn’t hurt to be near them and gain exposure from those who are being drawn to these areas!

3: Work Your Booth Space Into Your Budget Early On.

While you are in the beginning stages of planning for your trade show, there are many priorities that usually come at the top of the list, a few being exhibit-related costs, promotional costs and staffing costs. However, it’s also important to work your booth space cost into your budget early on.

As you begin planning for your upcoming show and get closer to the registration date, you may find that you’re more limited than you had anticipated. To prevent this from happening, set a price that you’re comfortable spending on a booth space early on so that you can work this into your budget and stick to it. It would be a shame to put so much effort and money into your exhibit and all the marketing leading up to the event, only to be able to afford a spot that doesn’t get you the exposure you deserve. 

One piece of advice is to register as soon as you know you’ll be attending a trade show. Many early-bird discounts are offered, and you’ll be getting first dibs on these high-traffic locations that you now know about! Plus, knowing your booth number early will help a few of your other planning efforts, such as the orientation of your booth itself (which will affect your electrical ordering), as well as your pre-show promotions so attendees know where they will be able to find you on the show floor.

4: Do Your Research! 

While it seems easy to take one look at the open spaces available on a trade show floor plan and think you know exactly which space you want, slow down and take a closer look! Really consider all of your options. Is there a booth space in a prime location, but it has a beam or pillar located in the booth or very close by? Chances are everyone else may be writing that space off because of it. However, there are creative ways you could either cover it up and use it as additional real estate for some brandingor even incorporate it into your exhibit design.

Final Thoughts

If you are unhappy with the space you are assigned from show management, or you aren’t thrilled with what options you have once it’s your time to select, make sure the show organizer knows you would be open and willing to move should anyone back out or cancel their space.

Remember, not all booth locations are equal. Plan to be strategic about choosing your location at your next trade show. High foot traffic is extremely important, but so is staying within your budget. With these tips, you’ll be able to find a happy medium that works for your business. Planning in advance will help! 

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