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


Add new comment

Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact