A Buyer’s Guide to Trade Show Digital Displays – Part 1

February 6, 2020

Pierre Menard

Pierre Menard is the Director of Research, Development and Innovation at Skyline Exhibits. He has been with Skyline since 2012. Pierre began his career as a welder, machinist and shop manager and progressed to leading engineering teams and developing proven processes to bring new and innovative products to market. 

Digital images displayed on digital screen displays open up a new world of changeable and moving images. When it comes to selecting digital displays, exhibitors are faced with a staggering choice of options, from small tablets to mid-sized TV screens and multi-panel digital walls. If there is video input, virtually any display screen can be adapted for use at an exhibit. But to help you pick the optimum hardware for your budget, venue and expected audience, we’ve broken down the features, benefits and strategies to mitigate risks of each type of display.


Tablets such as the Apple iPads, Amazon Fires and the Samsung Galaxy Tabs have become increasingly popular at exhibit booths. They’re economical, interactive and are already familiar to many of your booth staffers and attendees. With a variety of proven apps, they are often a versatile and practical choice. Although they represent the smallest available screen option, their screens can be easily mirrored on a larger, nearby monitor. This can help prevent bottlenecks when you are trying to demo content to a small group, and when you only have a couple of tablets available. At a trade show, it is recommended to either tether the tablet to furniture, a branded display stand or a person.


Kiosks can be display-only or touch-screen. Touch screens add interactivity, as well as cost, thickness and weight. Interactive kiosks are typically expensive to ship because the best way to mitigate risk is to have everything assembled and tested prior to shipping. For the best interactive experience, consider custom apps or software. Kiosks running a looped video or other simple content such as way-finding maps can usually be accomplished with a USB enabled display.

The optimum location and orientation of a kiosk depend on the interaction that is desired. To communicate information that is not interactive to multiple people, choose a tall kiosk above people’s heads with clear fonts and simple graphics that communicate the message in less than 10-15 seconds. If the content is interactive with many options, the best option in an exhibit is a “guided interactive tour.” A staffer engages the attendee and guides them through the interactions, asking questions, digging deeper and guiding the attendee to the information that best answers their questions. In this case, the display of the kiosk should be mounted vertically so that multiple people can view it, but a limited number of people can interact and disrupt the tour. If the content is engaging, and the expectation is that the attendee will self-inquire and self-guide, consider mounting the display of the kiosk horizontally. The limited visibility of the display, except for people standing very near it, gives the attendee more confidence to explore. Do not expect to do a “guided interactive tour” with a table display kiosk in the center of a crowd. The interaction is too tempting and your presentation will be co-opted by attendees.

TV Screens 

TV screens are the most common display choice for exhibits because they are typically the most cost-effective. They’re widely available in many different brands, sizes and resolutions, and are easy to set up. All come with built-in speakers, but for the trade show environment, the speakers integrated into the flat screens are insufficient in both quality and volume. If sound is included with the visual, plan to add inexpensive bookshelf speakers with a built-in amplifier. Most booth requirements are easily covered with a consumer-grade TV, but if the expectation is to re-purpose the exhibit into a more permanent installation such as a corporate lobby, consider upgrading to a commercial model. Commercial models are typically brighter, longer-lasting, designed for continuous professional use and come with better warranties. These extra features come at a price, as commercial monitors are often up to three times more expensive than their consumer-grade counterparts.

LCD Screens – Today’s Most Common Type of TV Display 

LCD TVs can display content at several resolutions. An HDTV can display content at HD resolution (1280×720 pixels). Full HD (the most common) is another step above HD, with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. Ultra HD – also known as 4K – is a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels. Unless the expectation is that the attendee will be within 24” of the screen and reading 12 PT font, avoid the cost of 4K screens. 4K digital displays cost more, weigh more and 4K content is much more expensive to create.

As the size of the display increases, it becomes a significant, integral part of exhibiting success. Do not be “that exhibitor” who has a black screen or a display that simply shows a progress bar. Have a copy of local content. Have someone who is knowledgeable make on-site adjustments to brightness, contrast and color settings for the local environment once the booth is set up. Disable auto-brightness functions so that your picture is stable regardless of the surroundings.


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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.