There are many things that can not be fully controlled about your participation in a trade show. From the weather to whether attendees have enough time to discover your booth. However, with some insights, you can make an informed decision about where your booth should be located even if you have never exhibited at the event previously.
Pros & Cons of Front of the Show
There’s a tendency to think that the booths closest to the front entrance to a show are the best locations. They are great spaces for visibility, and among the easiest to grab attention. Those spaces are also some of the only locations in the entire show floor that are guaranteed to be seen on the way in and on the way out. If you’re confident in the effectiveness of your trade show display and your booth staff to convert, then the spaces at the immediate front of the hall can be highly lucrative.
The psychology, however, shows that while these spaces may be the best overall locations for visibility, attendees’ attention spans may be shorter as their mind is considering what else there may be to see further into the show or from fatigue from already walking the full event. On the way into the show, they’re collecting ideas, getting bearings, thinking of all of the stops that want/need to make, and comparing booths with what they hoped or expected to see. On the way out of the show, they’re fatigued, in a hurry to make their next stop, or hungry.
Pros & Cons of Middle Rows
The center aisles and crossways of the show are the Goldilocks zone of any trade show. A nice balance of strong traffic and high visibility. Not over-crowded, not ever sparse. By the time attendees have reached this section of the show, they have likely gotten over their heightened excitement and settled into a groove of being present and engaged. This is the opportune moment for making a sale or demonstrate your product as they’re primed and ready for the conversation.
While the upside is significant, the downside of the center of the show is you generally have one shot as attendees likely will not walk out past your booth space as they’re exiting the show. Now, you should always treat attendees as if this is the only time you’ll see them during the event, and never expressly expect to finish a conversation later on. Make sure you’ve provide or collected all information you need to close the discussion for future followup.
Pros & Cons of Outer Perimeter
The outer perimeter of the show can be a surprisingly effective booth location for a variety of reasons. Many amenities are located along the edges of the event space which provide a natural draw for attendees. These could be coffee carts, lounges, presentation spaces, breakout sessions, or even restrooms. They create pockets of increased crowds. Another advantage is you may have more quality time per attendee.
The downside of a perimeter booth is that the further from the front entrance, the path of the expo attendee becomes more haphazard and less expected. A booth along the backwall, for example, may not be reached by a considerable portion of the show attendees. But a booth along a sidewall may get a decent or significant amount of traffic depending on the crowd flow of the event space. The spaces on the perimeter should generally be avoided for your first year until you have some understanding on the particular event and space logistics.
Other Booth Location Considerations
The reality is while you can make an informed decision about your booth location, there are many factors at play physically and mentally that determine which direction an attendee will walk. Every booth along the way impacts that journey further, and so there’s a limited amount of preplanning.
Some other factors to consider include which side of the aisle your booth is located. For US events, cultural tendencies drive attendees to view booths on the right side so their gaze will more easily gravitate towards the right side of the aisle. The crowd flow will more like start on the right side or right aisle.
Companies should also try to assess where their direct competitors are located and provide some distance or use that knowledge to your advantage to request a booth space closer to the front of the show. Try to pull previous year’s exhibitor lists for help determining where competitors booths were previously. Of course, they may be moving their booth as well, but you can only make decisions with the information you have.
For event spaces that are broken into multiple exhibition halls, consider which hall attendees enter first as well as which exhibition hall is larger. Attendees with limited time will likely look for the largest space to go through first before considering if they have time for the smaller space. Also, attendees that don’t happen to the connecting entry into the smaller space may not realize they missed it. Booths down a hallway or out in a lobby can be left out in the cold from foot traffic. Avoid choosing those spaces unless you have an event strategy that warrants that position.
Avoid Low Traffic or Low Attention Locations
If it's your first time exhibiting at a certain trade show, you may not be able to determine the lowest traffic spaces in advance. You can, however, avoid some of these locations:
- Rows that deadend
- Next to bathroom entrances
- Dimly lit or dark corners
- Next to air intake fans or under HVAC vents
- Immediately next to food
Nearly every show will have a floorplan available as a pdf. The more detailed the provided floor plan, the better for pre-planning about where to locate your booth. Many event floorplans will be laid out on top of the detailed architectural drawings provided by the venue or exhibition space. If this is the case, you should be able to determine many additional things such as where the building columns, exit doors, restrooms, electrical panels, corridors, etc. are located. The knowledge of where those building accessories are located can help in determining ideal booth placement. However, there’s no way to know everything in advance.
If the show provides a floorplan that is completely designed devoid of the architectural details, you won’t know if there may be an unexpected column in the way or if there’s an overhang. Just do the best you can with the information you have.
Also, there may be unexpected event amenities positioned nearby such as charging stations, floor layout directory or musicians. Your booth could be positioned close to a presentation stage and be drowned out by the PA system. You may simply end up in a space next to a boisterous neighbor. You simply can’t control every part of the booth location process.
Choose Your Booth Location Strategically
While keeping in mind some of the pitfalls of low traffic spaces and perimeter booths with diminished visibility, there’s always a decent portion of any show that is prime for success. The front of the show provides a ripe location for visibility and high traffic. The center aisles and crossways are ideal for quality engagement and prolonged conversation. And every space in a show is ripe for innovation, so be creative and break the mold of what works. Be prepared for unexpected surprises in any convention center, event venue, or show space.
Now that you have your booth location pinned down to a handful of options, it’s time to dig into the next step of preparing for your next trade show: choosing the right trade show display. MODdisplays can help you with that process. Contact our sales department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-663-3976.