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10 Economical Ideas for an Amazing Exhibit Design

If you’re exhibiting at an event, you want an amazing booth/stand design—the kind no event attendee can pass without noticing. But great design often comes with a blockbuster price tag, which may be cost prohibitive for some.

10 Economical Ideas for an Amazing Exhibit Design

How do you design a noticeable, memorable experience? How can you make a big impression with a small budget?

Don’t worry. We’re here to help. In this article, you’ll find 10 ideas on stretching your design budget and creating an outstanding experience for your attendees.

Marketing places value on visuals. Take social media, for instance. Not only are visual sites like Instagram and Snapchat wildly popular, according to developmental molecular biologist John Medina of Brain Rules fame, but you’re also actually more likely to remember their content because of its visual nature:

“Hear a piece of information, and three days later you'll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you'll remember 65%. 

That’s good news for event marketers. Stimulate your guests with a visual experience and they’ll remember your brand. That’s even better news for planners on a budget because creating a visually-appealing experience doesn’t have to break the bank.

We’ll share how to create interesting visuals and Instagrammable moments as part of your designs.

Are you ready for 10 ways to make a big impact on any budget?


10 Budget-Friendly Booth/Stand Tips

The key to success for experience design on a small budget is in creating something that people will remember. Here are a few ideas that should get them talking and taking pictures:


1. Lounge


Create a more inviting atmosphere and intimate area by downscaling your space, encouraging people to stay a while. Think soft, padded carpets, comfy sofas and low level lighting.

Lounges can serve as a visual oasis in a sea of boxy structures. You can also outfit the furniture with some interesting lighting, like string lights and neon against white, which visually pops. Serving up some libations or food will entice people to dwell longer as well.

Why it Works

Walking an expo hall can be physically and mentally tiring. Creating a spot where people recharge provides them with an opportunity to rest – and for you to be associated with that “rescue” from the hectic pace.

Additional Tip

Lounges can sometimes become a visitor’s office away from the office if they’re not properly managed. They’ll park up, pop earphones in and have a bite of lunch while answering emails and phone calls. So how do ensure value? If you want this approach to be successful, by all means, offer visitors some refreshments and rest, but ensure they have to sit down with you and have a chat. Better still, get them to register for VIP access before they arrive so they can set up a meeting time with you over some free lunch.


2. Game Wheel

Game Wheel

Who remembers gathering around the TV to watch Wheel of Fortune? Get people involved in your activity by creating a giant game wheel and encourage visitors to spin for prizes. Games are a great way to increase engagement and make people more receptive to your messaging.

In addition to a prize on each spot of the game wheel, you can place a word or short phrase that speaks to your company, product or mission. That visual aid will help them associate the positive feeling of winning a prize with something you also want to be known for. Plus, there’s something about the anticipation of watching the wheel spin that is extremely captivating.

Why it Works

For your audience, it’s tons of fun. For you, it’s an opportunity to cultivate some goodwill through awarding a prize for interaction.

Additional Tip

A wheel allows you to offer different levels/price points of swag, which could save you money by not giving a top-dollar prize to everyone who stops by.

Offer a few big prizes, and use social media to talk up your prize wheel. Live stream a few spins, so people who aren’t there can join in during the excitement. Don’t forget to talk to contestants about their challenges. You have a captive audience after they spin and before the wheel lands on something. Use that time to strike up a conversation.


3. Charging Tables

Charging tables

If your area is large enough, set up tables bistro style with power banks. People can come in and recharge while they talk with you. Additionally, appealing lighting or video screens/programming can help set the stage for the type of experience you want them to enjoy, from edgy to soothing.

Why it Works

This is another design that will set you apart from the typical layout. Sometimes it’s difficult finding somewhere to charge your devices; providing one at a table combines this much needed resource with somewhere to relax and take a seat, which can be a welcome reprieve on a busy exhibition floor. While they’re taking a seat and their devices are off or charging, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk to them about your offering.

Additional Tip

Run a looped video on your company, product, testimonials, employees or some other interesting subject so people can watch while they relax and recharge before speaking with them. Similarly to lounges, you’ll need to gate this facility slightly so you don’t turn into a café. Place the tables well within your space so you can immerse visitors in your brand.


4. Lighting

Stage Lighting

An impressive lighting display gets attention and doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can use colors, interactive features, and even set the light display to music so your area becomes an attractive (but if done well, not distracting) spectacle of sight and sound.

Why it Works

Lighting is eye-catching, and if you make it interactive, your attendees are more likely to capture it on video and even play along, spending more time in your booth.

Additional Tip

If you have an interactive lighting feature, encourage your team to play with it when no one else is. That way people walking by will notice and want to be part of the fun.


5. Photo Ops

Things like oversized chairs and mascots entice people to take photos and spend time interacting with you. You can also create branded photo ops with frames and logos and interesting backdrops. LED or paper screens can transport guests from your standard convention center to the balmy beaches of Tahiti (or at least entertain guests with a beautiful backdrop).

Ever watch an awards show where the celebs are photographed in front of a branded vinyl banner? This is a very inexpensive option for a booth.

Why it Works

It’s fun. People love pictures. It also creates a lot of exposure to your experience with the images circulating on social media.

Additional Tip

Ensure your brand is used in the photo op. Otherwise, you’re missing a prime marketing opportunity. If you have your branding in the shot, no matter where the picture ends up on the internet, your name is attached. If you don’t brand your scene, you have to rely on a mention or a hashtag being used.


6. Showcase Tech

showcase tech

A big screen or another interactive tech may be worth the investment. Or, if you’re not sure you are ready to invest, renting technology is always an option too.

Why it Works

Interactive tech gets your audience involved and, in turn, they’ll spend more time with you.

Additional Tip

Record some video of your booth interaction to use on social media, your website, and/or a thank you email to those who stopped by. People love video and capturing content to be used later can be valuable in so many areas of your marketing and outreach. You can even use it in the booth.


7. Mimicry


Consider creating an unusual space at an event, like an old-fashioned grocery store or a record store, as GES did in its Sessions Lounge at CONFEX 2019. These can be recreated with a few easy online finds. Create something recognizable that will evoke memories. 

Why it Works

This idea can be nostalgic and/or create a memorable experience. Make it Insta-worthy.

Additional Tip

Have your team dress the part. They’ll get noticed, and it’s an instant icebreaker.


8. Temporary Signage

Chalkboards, whiteboards and letter boards are cheap and allow you to customize your messaging throughout the day.

Why it Works

Since you can change the message, you can entertain your audience through humor and quotes.

Additional Tip

Give them a reason to check back in with you and your boards. Post the name of a contest winner or some other piece of valuable information like a flash offer. This encourages people to return.





9. Company Pictures

Company Pictures of team membersPlace the focus on your team by blowing up pics of them (and company functions), printing them off in different sizes and using them to spark conversation.

Why it Works

Audiences identify with people, not companies. Giving attendees the faces of your company will humanize your brand.

Additional Tip

Empower your team to tell stories as a way to engage your audience.


10. Sensory Ideas

Sensory Ideas Smell

We just presented several visual ideas that will help you captivate their attention and make an impression without a huge budget, but keep in mind that vision is just one of the five senses. Consider also creating a sensory experience with sounds, smells, taste, and touch, so the effect you have will be even more powerful.

Sound. The sound of laughter and cheering always attracts onlookers. Create contests with in-booth participation.

Smell. Serve food at your booth if it’s allowed. Bring in a popcorn popper and attendees will follow their noses to your space. If you’re using a lounge, a calming scent paired with mellow music will entice attendees to stay a while.

Taste. Samplings are a big crowd pleaser.

Touch. Some people learn best from tactile experiences. If you are selling a product that allows for it, have samples that people can touch, even if it’s just a portion of what you sell. If you’re delivering information, make sure it’s included on the event app, and offer to review it with attendees to get them to do something with their hands. You could even incorporate it into an event game.

Why it Works

Sensual memories make an indelible impression, because the brain stores emotional memories in the same region that processes the senses, making them closely linked.

Additional Tip

When it comes to using smell, do not use perfumes or overly chemical smells, as some people have sensitivities to them. Instead, opt for natural essential oils in scents like pine or even citrus. You can also use food smells by baking cookies or boiling some cinnamon sticks in a warmer.


In Conclusion

If you want to make a big impression without a without exceeding your budget, there are many things you can do to ensure attendees notice you. Use evocative visuals and invest in singular statement pieces. Create wow moments and experiences for those walking by in order to get the most attention for the least expense.


If you’d like more economical ideas, contact the experts at GES today.

About the Author

Amy is the Global Digital Content Marketing Editor at GES. With a strong background in content marketing, social media, and communications, she is a passionate writer and self-confessed word geek. She is also the founder of a non-profit and a health and wellness online community.

Profile Photo of Amy Kelley