Note: This is the first of a two-part series.

The trade show industry is seeing a bit of an uptick in both revenue and square footage, according to the CEIR First Quarter Index Report for 2018. This increase is part of the current prediction of continued growth and expansion of trade shows.

This expansion may mean new shows are added to your current trade show schedule, or you may decide to increase your participation at a show on your current schedule. One of the most common trade show questions we get asked is, "How do I pick the best booth for my company?"

Our clients exhibit in a variety of industry events and have their own unique set of goals and objectives for each show. As a result, the booth selection process is different for each company.

There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting the best booth, so we’ve put together a two-part series tackling this topic. This week, we are reviewing four tips that will help you de-mystify the exhibit floor plan and locate the best location for your exhibit space.

Book Early

Prime booth locations get booked first. So, as soon as you know you plan to exhibit at a trade show, start reviewing the floor plan, pick the spot you want, and book it.

The longer you wait to book your space, the greater the risk your preferred spot will get snagged by another company. If you need time to get budget approval or consider other factors before confirming a space, talk to the show organizers about putting a hold on your preferred space.

This is not always an option (every show has different rules), but even if you can get a booth space held for a week, that could help.

Entrance Location

Being near the front and near the main entrance offers a tremendous amount of visibility as attendees walk into the exhibit hall. The booth spaces that are closest to the entrance are always the ones to get booked first.

Consider for a moment, though, a booth location just a few aisles back from the entrance. Entrances can be crowded and chaotic as visitors pause to look around and gain their bearings.

There is a difference between a high-traffic area and full-on congestion. High-traffic areas are the ideal and what we all desire for our trade show booth experience. Congestion, on the other hand, can make it hard to have meaningful conversations with attendees.

Anchor Activities

Do you see a large catering/seating area on the show floor? What about a large exhibitor demo theater? Does the exhibit map show a main stage for show floor presentations?

We see many show organizers adding what we call "anchor activities" to the exhibit hall to drive more traffic to the booths.

Anchor activities take up a large footprint and are intended to bring a considerable amount of traffic to that area. Consider a booth location near one of these activities and make the most of it.


Take a look at the exhibitor list and make note of the companies you know — whether they are customers, partners, or even competitors. Get a sense of where they are located in relation to the main entrance and anchor activities.

Being near a competitor, for example, might be a good thing. Attendees who stop and see them will also see you in the "neighborhood" and you’ll be more likely to see them stop at your booth.

If you are planning a dynamic exhibit and have a pre-show marketing plan to promote your participation, you should never be afraid to be near the competition.

Don’t be afraid to schedule a call with the show organizer and talk through the exhibit map with them. It is a great way to get additional insights about the flow of traffic — and ask their advice on the best location.

Next time, we’ll explore a few more of our pro tips to help you find the best exhibit space at your next event.