9 Creative Trade Show Booth Ideas

September 25, 2018

Joe Robison

Joe Robison is the Marketing Director of Coastal Creative, a San Diego-based large format printing company that specializes in trade show booths, signage, and vehicle wraps. He is also the founder of Green Flag Digital, an SEO consulting company.

Trade show booths. If this phrase doesn’t excite you, you aren’t alone. We have all been to trade shows and seen countless booths without a single drop of inspiration between them. They are all too often boring. Stale. Corporate.

With so many bland trade show booths out there, it’s no wonder that many people struggle to come up with engaging ideas for their own booths. How do you make something compelling, on-brand and unique when so much of what’s out there is so boring? Where can you draw a bit of inspiration from?

Before you call up your old vendor and resign to a booth as uninspired as its visitors are bound to be, consider that there are actionable changes you can implement that will truly transform your trade show booth.

We scoured the best and worst of the trade show landscape to find nine truly creative trade show display ideas that you can easily incorporate into your booth design. Sure, some ideas may be a bit more time and resource intensive than others, and others may push the envelope a bit too far for more conservative brands. But after doing countless hours of research and attending hundreds of trade shows, we’re confident at least one of these ideas can breathe life into your booth.

1. Living Wall

Living walls get their name from their uncanny ability to liven up what would otherwise be a simple trade show booth. The idea is simple and therein lies its genius: transform the main wall of your booth into a vibrant collage of colors and textures. Not only are living walls visually dynamic but they are also incredibly economical when it comes to set-up, break-down and conserving space.

Many beautiful examples of living walls are actually alive. That is, constructed from plants, fruit, vegetables, etc. But other living walls are less literal, combining text, objects and art to create a stunning showcase of brand imagery.

2. Gigantic Objects

Oversized objects have long been a source of fascination for humans. From roadside attractions promising to show you the world’s largest ketchup bottle to giant ceremonial checks, something about the distorted proportions and perspective of gigantic objects strikes us with awe. Incorporating this fascination into your booth is a sure-fire way to excite trade show attendees. When your booth itself is the gigantic object, it will basically be begging attendees to climb inside and explore.

Making your products gigantic is also a great way to magnify the attractiveness of their design. With every detail blown to supersize, customers won’t miss even the more minute specs. But even if your product isn’t so tangible, like in the case of software, the gigantic-object-as-booth motif can still work for you. 

3. Dynamic Seating

There are three things all savvy trade show attendees are constantly on the lookout for: snacks, giveaways and a place to sit. Seating that is as attractive as it is comfortable is the ultimate way to lure trade show attendees to your booth.

Giving attendees a place to sit works wonders for a few reasons. First of all, people are more likely to be receptive to your message when they are comfortable and relaxed rather than irritable from standing all day. Secondly, truly remarkable seating displays make for wonderful photo opps. And thirdly, by supplying a comfy chair, you’ll give attendees a reason to stay much longer at your booth than they otherwise may.

4. Repeating Product Wall

Marketing pros will be the first to tell you that it is often repetition that seals the deal. Repeating product walls play off human psychology in a number of ways, all of which can be beneficial to your trade show booth.

First, shoppers tend to gravitate towards displays that appear bountiful. Having your products all lined up in a uniform matter makes them look neat and plentiful. Second, slight variations in color or flavor appear much more exciting when they all appear alongside one another. Even if the distinctions are purely aesthetic, a repeating product wall gives customers the feeling of having a wide range of options. Thirdly, products arranged at eye-level encourage browsing and interaction, two activities that will also hopefully lead to a purchase!

5. Repurposed Vintage Vehicles

Is your brand old-school cool? By repurposing a vintage vehicle to use at your next trade show booth, your brand will give off good vibrations. Whether an old camper, a VW-bus, an Italian sports car or a vintage pickup, this nostalgic aesthetic will make attendees long for the open road. The imagery associated with road trips and classic cars can be a powerful message for branding!

Vintage vehicles are also a versatile trade show booth design option. You can opt to either use the vehicle purely decoratively by simply parking it in your booth or to use it as a functional space. By renovating the interior, you can transform a vintage vehicle into a dynamic part of your booth.

6. Overhead Hangings

If your allotted booth assignment is smaller than you’d hoped, your trade show booth design will have to maximize space and employ a few optical tricks to keep things from feeling cramped. One of the best ways to make your booth look instantly larger is to draw attention upwards with vertical hangings.

But overhead hangings can do a lot more than just make your booth feel bigger. They can also be seen from a distance, which is definitely an advantage at crowded trade shows. Furthermore, especially when the hangings are brightly colored and well-lit, they can induce a sense of wonder in visitors.

7. Enclosed Environments

Transform your booth into a refuge cut off from the noise and bustle of a busy trade show. By creating a closed environment with your booth, you will pique attendees’ curiosity and help to capture their full attention.

Creating a closed-off environment is an effective design tactic for trade shows because it makes the experience immersive. You will need to compete with a lot of other booths for attendee’s attention, so sectioning off your booth can go a long way in minimizing distraction. But you don’t need to case visitors in to make the experience more private! Even more open structures can do the trick.

8. Long Lines and Panels

Long, flowing lines instantly draw eyes towards them. By swooping and stacking lines to create the structure of your trade show booth, you’ll create a booth experience that is dynamic yet simple, delineated yet open.

One of the great advantages of using long lines to structure and decorate your trade show booth is the aesthetic versatility. An otherwise corporate or stuffy booth looks immediately more chic after introducing some dynamic panels and simple structures become infinitely more interesting when stacked.

9. Fabric Architecture

Fabric is among the most practical materials you can use in your trade show booth. Lightweight, flexible, and durable, it can make set-up and break-down a breeze. Plus, fabric can be used to create complex, elaborate architectural structures that would be dangerous or impossible to engineer with rigid materials.

Another unique advantage of fabric architecture are the lighting possibilities it enables. Using fabric in your trade show booth design can make way for some seriously creative lighting. Fabric illuminates with a softer, more atmospheric glow than rigid plastics. From the ethereal to the ultra-modern, trade show booths based on fabric structures allow for out-of-this-world designs.

To view the original post and infographic, go HERE.

booth info graph


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.