Exhibiting is a significant investment in both money and time. So if you’re going to do it, you’ll want to get it right. This means thinking through every aspect, from what your exhibition stand looks like to how to set it up and how you’ll sell to customers when you get there.

In this post, you’ll learn how to set up and sell at your tradeshow or exhibition booth and ways to ensure your stand is the one people remember. We’ll also share 15 exhibition stand design ideas and why they could work for your audience.

Table of contents

How to set up an exhibition stand for a tradeshow

Setting up your tradeshow table display

How to stand out and attract crowds

How to get more sales on your exhibition or tradeshow stand booth

15 exhibition stand design ideas to attract more visitors

Secrets to a successful expo

How to set up an exhibition stand for a tradeshow

Setting up an exhibition stand for success is essential to making the most of your exhibiting opportunity. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Know your timings – Most exhibitions have strict set-up cut-off times, and stats on peak times for attendees and when it should be quieter. The organisers will provide this information, including your bump-in and bump-out time limits.
  • Provide a staff briefing – Before the doors open, ensure your on-booth staff know what’s expected of them; from what to wear, where they should stand, and how they should approach visitors. A comprehensive sales strategy will contribute to your booth’s success.
  • Organise seating – How long will exhibition attendees spend on their feet? Consider hiring or buying a small table and chairs so visitors can take a seat during meetings and presentations.
  • Connect with the organisers – Ideally, on the day of the build, introduce yourself to the organisers and have questions prepared to ask them. This will ensure they know who you are and will help if you need assistance before or during the event.
  • Collect data – Every exhibitor needs a way to collect attendee details. Many will use the method of scanning badges, but you could also use an iPad with a sign-up form. Or why not get creative with a polaroid headshot to help you remember who’s who?
  • Encourage social sharing – Amplify your tradeshow booth beyond the ground by adding an element that will encourage social sharing. This could be a giveaway with a social element, a funky booth that people will want to photograph, or a surprise celebrity guest.
  • Follow up with visitors – Most importantly, follow up with your sales prospects post-event. Some companies put effort into attracting people to their booths, then fail to follow-up and contact them. You want to stay front of mind and connect with your potential customers in different ways post-event.

Setting up your tradeshow table display

There are many options when it comes to table display stand ideas. Often at a tradeshow, any provided and hired furniture will arrive plain, so add a few elements to jazz up your space. Here are some basic principles to help you choose.

  • Less is more – Particularly if your stand space is small, don’t add too much clutter to your table display.
  • Save space with stand-up banners – Roller banners help present lots of information about your brand without needing printed leaflets or brochures, which take up space and often aren’t sustainable. Use banners to hide away items that you don’t want on show, too.
  • Buy attractive giveaways – If you’re going to have giveaways on show, make them as attractive as possible. Bright colours will draw the eye and look nicer on your tradeshow table than something dull. Inexpensive items, such as pens and keep-cups, will keep your branding in front of people after the tradeshow is over.
  • Save space for information collection – While you may decide to add plants or decorative features to your table, remember the aim of the game is to collect visitor information. This may mean having a clipboard, a business card bowl, or your laptop present.
  • Hide away personal items – Nothing makes a tradeshow table look messier than personal items like keys, phones, and wallets on the table. Hide away all of your personal items in a back area or behind the table to keep things tidy and professional.

How to stand out and attract crowds

Here are some suggestions for how to stand out during a tradeshow and attract more visitors.

  • Provide an exclusive event-only promotion – Anything exclusive will help you stand out among the many other tradeshow exhibitors. Think a special discount code, a “buy one get one free” offer, or a free consultation with your expert team.
  • Launch a product – If you have a new feature, a re-brand, or a new service coming up, use this as a launch. Industry press is often sent to cover new products at the show and may feature you in tradeshow-related coverage, which will help you stand out at the event, and beyond.
  • Host a talk – Education is often cited as the number one reason attendees visit a tradeshow. Host a small talk or panel discussion on your stand to advertise your company and provide value to attendees.
  • Use branding – Your tradeshow booth is a space to bring your brand to life. Make the most of custom graphics, roller banners, and wall art.
  • Organise a guest appearance – Having a guest at your booth will let you begin advertising early and encourage visitors to make a beeline for your stand. Organise a series of time slots when the guest is available, or a special on-stand drinks ceremony.
  • Create a competition – An on-stand tournament, gaming session, or the chance to enter a competition will help increase your footfall traffic and stand presence with visitors. If you announce the winner(s) during the tradeshow as a mini-presentation, you’ll create reasons for attendees to hang around.

How to get more sales on your exhibition or tradeshow stand booth

Attracting visitors to your exhibition stand is the first step to generating leads and sales. Discover these marketing strategies to help maximise your retail activations and ROI.

1. Start promotion early

A big mistake many make is not promoting their show appearance until the last month or two. Some of the biggest and most successful brands who exhibit begin promoting their next exhibition right after the doors close on their current show.

Send out a ‘save the date’ at least eight months in advance to ensure you reserve a place in people’s diaries. Build communication from then onwards to keep everyone up to date and to stay at the forefront of their minds. Ideally, keep those lines of communication open all year round.

Design banner ads for your website, a customisable e-blast to send to your customer database, and a branded email signature to promote your show presence with every email.

2. Get noticed by organisers and trade press

Promote your tradeshow presence by speaking to the organisers about promotional opportunities. Some options may require payment but others, like producing a relevant thought piece for the website, might be gladly accepted. Trade press will also often cover an exhibition and will be interested in news being released at the show, such as a launch or re-brand.

3. Make prior appointments with visitors or hosted buyers

To encourage qualified customers to visit your stand, make prior appointments or get involved with the event-hosted buyer programme, if there is one. This lets you identify and screen potential attendees and organise appointments with them. Hosted buyer programmes were pioneered by the event industry show IMEX in the 1980s and have proven a huge success, with the organisers now hosting thousands of buyers events every year. This is a great way to ensure that you have qualified leads to meet and greet before you’ve even landed on the show floor.

4. Engage with visitors at all times

One of the biggest mistakes tradeshow stand staff make is not engaging with visitors. Many visitors will wander by and find the stand staff chatting among themselves, on their phones or sending emails. Find a position where you can comfortably be open to greet any guests that walk by and practice one or two openers that will engage them. This might be as simple as asking how they are and inviting them in for a five-minute demo.

5. Let visitors get hands-on with your offering

One of the best ways to sell what you do on your tradeshow booth is to let visitors see it for themselves. Offer at least one interactive element that’s more than just a sales pitch. This could be a product demo, a chance to test something out, an experiment, a game or a quiz. There might be hundreds of other stands at the show – how do you make yours stand out? Immersing visitors in your brand keeps them engaged and gives them something to remember when they go home.

6. Create a call to actions

If you’ve had a great discussion with the visitor at your booth, follow up with them. This could be a request for them to send you examples of their business-use case, an email after the show, or free content like an eBook that you can send to them. The more personalised the call to action is, the better. Many businesses send a blanket email out to each person they met on the stand during the show – so yours needs to stand out. Try connecting with high-quality leads over the phone, for lunch, or on LinkedIn.

15 exhibition stand design ideas to attract more visitors

When it comes to designing a show-stopping exhibition stand, make sure all eyes are on you. While you shouldn’t scrimp on your stand, designing a show-stopping expo booth doesn’t have to cost a fortune – you just need to think outside the box. Here, we uncover fifteen amazing exhibition stand design ideas and examine why they work so well.

1. Small exhibition stand design

Small doesn’t have to mean boring when it comes to your exhibition stand design. In many small stand spaces, you can add height (but check with the exhibition organiser first) or use both sides of the stand walls to create more surface to tell your story. Look to retail stands within a store, such as beauty or technology brands, for inspiration on how to sell big ideas from a smaller presentation space.

Some ideas for smaller exhibition stand spaces include:

  • Pop-ups – These are usually cost-effective stand display formats that can be quickly assembled and reused for future events. Most pop-up stands contain roller banners, cardboard display graphics, and furniture which is easily removed.
  • Product demos – Smaller exhibition stand spaces lend themselves well to one-to-one or one-to-few product demos where you can be close to the customer and let them get hands-on with your product or software.
  • Video displays – If you have minimal space on your stand, use a screen to give you more room to tell your story. Queueing four or five videos or presentations lets you share key messages without needing a huge amount of floor space.
  • Graphics display – Using bold graphics on your booth space can help you stand out and get noticed. If you have a space-only stand you could also use the space to create something interesting, like an indoor garden or even a tent-type igloo.
  • Speed dating stand – If you only have space on your stand for two chairs and a table why not create a “speed dating” booth? This will allow you to have five or ten minutes per visitor where you can chat through any questions.
  • 360-degree stand – One way to maximise small stand space is to open it up on three, or all sides. This allows you to be seen from around the room and will give visitors more access to the space you have.

2. Recreate a real environment

Creativity and craftsmanship go into creating the perfect products. So, designing an exhibition stand where visitors can feel those products can be more effective than showing a video or providing a brochure. Create a “pop-up” experience that looks and feels like a living room, kitchen, school, or office – whichever environment best shows off your products and helps people envision how they might use them.

3. A flexible exhibition stand design

Building an exhibition stand is expensive, so you’ll want it to be adaptable for future use. Opt for a modular, reusable design. By having elements that can be added or taken away, you can modify the design to suit different-sized stands and different stand layouts.

The most common types of layout are island exhibits (exposed on all four sides), peninsular exhibits (three out of four sides exposed) and inline exhibits (flanked by other exhibitors). Standard tradeshow stand sizes are often 10 x 10m, 10 x 20m and 20 x 20m. It’s worth nailing down a design that could work across all three at the outset. You can draw to-scale and cut out the different elements of your design to play around and find configurations that work for various stand layouts.

4. Hired exhibition stand designs

Short-term hire is the ultimate flexible option, as you can change things up each time to be more noticeable. This is ideal for first-time exhibitors or those who want to save on cost and works well in a store or pop-up-shop type of exhibition environment. These types of exhibition stand designs can be smaller than average and less customisable, but work well if you want to get a feel and use an exhibition stand design that’s tried and tested.

5. 2D and 3D elements

While graphic banners, large screens, and signs play an important role in communicating who you are and what you do, it’s vital to include more tangible elements too. By featuring furniture and decor you can create an experience – a physical place to visit and enjoy. You could include a tea station, water features, seating, and private meeting rooms to add to the ambience.

Make your stand welcoming with comfortable seating, attractive displays, and shelves for brochures at eye level. Include a prominent counter as an entrance for staff to greet from like a luxury store or boutique office. The mix of elements in your stand design can offer an escape from the business and bustle of the rest of the show.

6. Interactive exhibition stand ideas

Any interactive design increases dwell time by giving visitors a reason to spend longer on your stand. The result? Everyone remembering your business. Interactive features like a funhouse theme with a ball pit, or exhibits that can be explored or walked around, engage visitors’ senses, making your brand stand out.

Interactive features can be designed to be highly Instagrammable, so your exhibition won’t just stand still – it’ll travel across social media and engage a much wider audience!

7. Colour-themed exhibition stand design

Bold colours will make your booth eye-catching, but choose a maximum of three so that your design doesn’t become visually overwhelming. Work with your existing branding and incorporate it into the core design features of your stand, such as the flooring/carpeting and modular display elements.

Don’t use too many images (i.e. lots of product and stock photos) as this can dilute the impact of your design. Instead, choose a small number of striking images to make an instantaneous impression with creative event signage. Or go minimalist to highlight your product or message.

8. Clear messaging

A simple stand design can be enhanced with graphics and text to capture your brand’s visual identity. Unless you’re a very well-known brand, incorporate descriptive copy in your stand’s graphic design. This can be a short tagline that lets passersby know what you’re offering – i.e. “Independent financial advice you can rely on” or “The finest artisan chocolate“. Including clear messaging helps you qualify booth traffic – if a visitor can see from a glance that you offer financial advice and they still approach you, you can be pretty certain they’re interested in financial advice.

9. Digital exhibition stand design

Digital screens are often used in exhibition stand design because what you display on them can be so easily changed. Every time you exhibit, the message you want to communicate may be different – perhaps you have a new product to promote or a special offer for that particular audience. A digital screen such as an LED wall allows you to make those changes without investing in new banners. Try a digital screen with moving images; show a demo video or pictures of happy customers and testimonials – anything that gets people to pause and watch. It’s easier to engage a visitor who’s standing still than one walking past. Use the screen for presentations too, creating a reason for visitors to stop at your stand for longer.

10. Textured exhibition stands

Your tradeshow booth needs to be visually interesting. Achieve this by mixing materials and experimenting with patterns and textures. How about placing wood pallet chairs next to an industrial steel table, or kitsch animal-print cushions on a sleek leather sofa? Mixing natural and manmade materials and juxtaposing them unexpectedly will make your stall more intriguing.

11. Exhibition stands with clever lighting

You want to create a colour-rich environment. Smaller brands can struggle to be heard amongst the larger technology competitors, but a simple yet effective use of coloured lights can help you to stand out without being too gimmicky.

Clever lighting can turn a run-of-the-mill tradeshow stand into a memorable one. Use coloured LEDs to change the entire look and feel of your stand at the touch of a button. Meanwhile, attract attention with retro neon signs, strings of festoon lights, or giant light bulb letters. If you prefer a more low-key effect, use a focal centrepiece light fitting, such as a chandelier, or create a homely feel with standing lamps and picture frame lights.

12. Immersive exhibition stand ideas

Visitors might be at the tradeshow for work, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be entertained. Including a fun, immersive feature can help draw in the crowds and gives you something to promote in advance of the show. This doesn’t have to be a full-on experience. Simple examples of integrating an immersive element into a stand space are a VR headset experience, old school games like giant Connect Four or Jenga, or something silly like a sofa bed where tired visitors can rest and hear a bedtime story about your brand.

Another quick win is including an Instagram-friendly photo opportunity. Think branded stand-in cut-outs, photo backdrops, or a life-sized cow in your company colours. Have a photo booth with props, printing out photo strips with your logo. As well as giving your visitors something to remember you by, these easy immersive stand ideas are great for promotion via social media.

13. Stands with freebies

On-stand giveaways are a tried-and-tested trick to pull in visitors. Instead of just handing out freebies, why not incorporate your gifts into the actual design of your stand? Have cylinders of shiny apples, a cocktail bar, or a coffee station. Remember to have enough of whatever it might be in reserve so you can top up your display. Alternatively, go for an interactive giveaway like free massages and design a dedicated area for these. Or, include a charging station for mobile devices, encouraging visitors to spend time at your booth.

14. Meeting areas or suites

You attend tradeshows intending to do business, so include somewhere to take meetings in your stand design. Depending on what best suits your business, it can be a formal desk and chairs, or something more informal like lounge seating or a podium table and stools.

Design touches, like bean bags and a TV screen, can make a meeting space relaxed while staying on-brand. Consider making a semi-private area by enclosing it on two sides. That way, you can pre-schedule meetings before the show with the knowledge that you’ll have a quiet space for your talks.

15. An indoor-outdoor exhibition stand design

Exhibition halls rarely access daylight, and recycled air conditioning can become stuffy. Using greenery, whether faux or real, helps bring a little of the outside world in and can make your stand more welcoming. This is a great way for an environmentally conscious brand to communicate its passions, standing out amongst the metal, plastics, and other typical exhibition-hall materials.

Secrets to a successful expo

A tradeshow stand is an opportunity to showcase your brand’s creativity, so don’t just turn up with a retractable banner stand. Even on a small budget, you can make a big impact with colour, lights, and a few feature pieces of decor. With creativity and planning, use your exhibition stand design to connect with your audience and get people talking about your brand. Find out more and power up your next tradeshow event with Eventbrite.