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Exhibit Booth Planning Guide

Kicking off a successful trade show experience takes more than just setting up your booth and showcasing your products or services to the world. Have you done your exhibit planning homework? Before you pack your bags and customize your giveaways, take a moment to reflect on some important questions. What kind of experience do you want to create? How can you ensure a lasting impact? What are some best practices that will offer you the most value for your investment?

As busy exhibitors, it's easy to get lost in the details. But to craft a solid strategy, it's crucial to understand the who, what, when, where, and why before diving into the how.

Trade Show Exhibit Timeline
Exhibiting at a trade show can be an exciting and incredibly rewarding experience, especially when you've put thought and effort into designing an attractive and functional booth. By following the principles from this guide, you'll be well on your way to making the most of your exhibit space and creating a memorable experience for your visitors. The suggested timeline recommends ordering before discount pricing deadlines that typically end between 15 - 30 days before the show's open date. 

2 - 4 Weeks

4 - 6 Weeks

5 - 7 Weeks
Graphics & Creative

8 - 12 Weeks
Booth Design (Turnkey Rental Exhibits)

Trade Show Exhibit Planning

This checklist walks you through the key steps to planning a trade show booth – from graphics to furnishings – and everything in between. By considering those essential elements when renting, you'll be well on your way to achieving success with your exhibit and making a lasting impression on your visitors.

Exhibit Design – Making the Most of Your Space

The first item found on the trade show booth planning agenda is exhibit design.  Regardless of your booth's location — whether an island, peninsula, corner, or inline — it's crucial to design your exhibit to attract the most customers. Smaller booths may be limited in size, but they can maximize your ROI and allow you to use creative graphics or eye-catching installations to draw in customers. Think about the layout that will best showcase your products and services while making it easy for visitors to engage with your team.

Graphics – Bold and Beautiful
Designing graphics is extremely important when working with a small space. Keep your furnishings (counters, shelves, chairs, and tables) in mind as you create your visuals. Print words and logos on the top portion of your graphics, so they can be seen clearly and at eye level. Bright colors and large text or logos will grab the attention of passersby and help you stand out from the crowd. And if you’d like to encourage more direct engagement from passing customers, consider integrating hands-on displays or interactive technology.

Flooring – Comfort and Style
Be sure to consider flooring during exhibit planning. While most shows require flooring for exhibit booths, it's still a good idea to rent flooring even if it's not mandatory. Carpet or vinyl flooring can attract customers, set you apart from competitors, and provide a comfortable surface for both visitors and booth workers. Consider adding a protective plastic covering (like Visqueen) to keep your flooring spotless during move-in.

Furnishings – Form and Function
When designing your space, it's essential to decide early on if you need counters, tables, or chairs. Often, you can take advantage of package furniture discounts and save money on material handling by renting from the official services provider. With a wide variety of standard and specialty furniture available, you can choose pieces that will match your graphics or add a stylish touch to your design.

Exhibit Accessories – The Finishing Touches
In addition to furnishings, consider adding shelves to display products, bag holders, literature racks, and wastebaskets for discarding samples. Plants, tablecloths, and centerpieces are also easy ways to personalize your space and create an inviting atmosphere for visitors.

Electrical – Power Up
Don't forget to order electrical services for your booth! Whether you need power for a refrigerator, freezer, lighting, or access to an outlet for charging phones or computers, you'll need to review the amperage options and order the outlet that best fits your needs.

Shipping – Bring It All Together
Once you've designed your booth and graphics, selected your flooring and furnishings, and ordered electrical services, it's time to think about shipping any additional items to the show. This might include banners, product samples, displays, brochures, business cards, and more. You never know when even the most seemingly basic items might come in handy (for example — extra phone cords, duct tape, paper clips, highlighters, even paper towels!). Think about these small things during exhibit planning to ensure that everything arrives on time and in good condition, so you can focus on making the most of your exhibit experience.

Focused on Exhibitor Success 
Helping exhibitors have a successful show is our top priority.  If you’re looking for a partner to help with exhibit planning details, download the exhibitor budget worksheet and continue reading our next article in this exhibitor roadmap.

If you are exhibiting at a GES show, click here to find your show and look for GES Exhibit Flooring+, discount flooring packages, and GES Exhibit Furnishings+, discount furniture packages as well as Exhibit Systems+, trade show booth rentals with custom fabric graphics.