Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for April, 2024

How to Design & Use a Trade Show Floor Plan

April 29th, 2024 COMMENTS
trade show floor plan

You’re an exhibitor and someone says to you, “Tell me about your trade show floor plan.” Do they mean the show’s overall floor plan or the floor plan of your exhibit? In this article, we’re going to discuss the latter. We’ll address choosing the optimal space on the trade show floor in another article. That topic is a bit like casino odds in Vegas. It depends on the venue, the game you’re playing, and how comfortable you are with risk.  

On the other hand, the floor plan of your exhibit doesn’t rely on luck. But it does require planning and a strategy. Your booth size will determine overall square footage, but there’s so much more than just the size of the booth. Is it an inline, an island, or a peninsula? Is it on the right side of the exhibit hall or the left side? Are you on the end of an aisle or does the aisle T into the middle of your booth? 

Those physical constraints matter when designing the floor plan of your exhibit. You would be surprised how often exhibitors can’t visualize a 200, 400, or even 800 sq. foot space. In renderings, the exhibit space always seems large (or large enough), and the distance between counters, towers, furniture, and lightboxes more than sufficient. In reality, it’s often tight… too tight which can hinder easy access into the booth and interactions with potential clients. Let’s discuss how to maximize your trade show floor space without feeling like you’re squeezing through the racks at your local discount clothing store.  

The Importance of a Trade Show Floor Plan

Let’s be honest. Visualizing spatial dimensions is challenging. Most of us, if asked to draw a 20 ft x 20 ft. box on the floor, would struggle not only with the 20 ft. length but also with just drawing a somewhat perfect square. And that’s OK. That’s why there are CAD and rendering programs, along with exhibit designers, project managers, and detailers. They live in those spaces every day. Not literally, but you know what we mean. .   

A well-designed trade show floor plan entices attendees into your booth through both visual and text messages and a comfortable and logical layout. In addition, the floor plan allows your staff to be efficient with your trade show strategy, whether that’s education via workstations, conversations at sofas or chairs, or demos using a stage and theater-style seating. Or, all of these and more. 

All too often, exhibitors will fall in love with an exhibit without considering whether the floor plan aligns with their trade show strategy. It’s the proverbial putting the cart before the horse. Professional exhibit designers won’t allow that to happen. They’ll focus on your goals and strategy first. They’ll quiz you about what worked in the past (and what didn’t), ask about the size of your trade show staff, and request a map or link to the show’s floor plan. They’ll want to know what direction to position the booth, the size and position of the aisles, the height of the show hall roof, and if there are any visual impediments, like columns next to your booth. Even knowing if you’re next to the bathrooms or across from the cafe can assist them with arranging the space to maximize its potential. 

trade show booth layout

Creating Your Trade Show Booth Floor Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

A well-designed trade show exhibit floor plan is crucial for attracting attendees, showcasing your brand, and achieving your trade show goals. Exhibit houses specialize in trade show design and execution. They have a team of experienced professionals who understand traffic flow, attendee behavior, and the latest trends in booth design.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create a winning plan:

1. Define Your Goals and Audience:

  • What are your objectives for the trade show? Is it generating leads, brand awareness, product demos, or a combination?
  • Who is your target audience? Understanding their needs and interests will guide your booth design and activities.

2. Research the Venue:

  • Obtain a detailed floor plan of the exhibit hall from the show organizer.
  • Learn about booth sizes and configurations offered by the venue.
  • Identify key features like entrances, exits, restrooms, concession stands, and any potential obstructions (pillars, stages).
  • Consider factors like lighting and noise levels that might impact your booth design.

3. Design Your Booth Layout:

  • Start with traffic flow: How will attendees navigate your booth? Design an open and inviting layout that encourages them to explore.
  • Consider your booth size and functionalities: Allocate space for product displays, demonstrations, presentations, storage, and networking.
  • Position key elements strategically: Place high-impact visuals and lead capture areas in high-traffic zones.
  • Ensure accessibility: Allow for comfortable movement for all attendees, including those with disabilities.

4. Optimize the Attendee Experience:

  • Create a clear visual hierarchy: Use signage, lighting, and product placement to guide attendees through your booth.
  • Incorporate interactive elements: Demos, contests, or giveaways can attract attention and engage visitors.
  • Designate a comfortable area for conversations: Provide seating or a dedicated space for attendees to connect with your team.

5. Refine and Get Feedback:

  • Review your floor plan to ensure it aligns with your goals and facilitates a seamless attendee experience.
  • Seek feedback from colleagues, potential vendors, or even past attendees for valuable insights.

Optimizing Exhibit Layout for Maximum Engagement


inline trade show floor plan

Inline booths are the most common and budget-friendly option at trade shows. They require some strategic planning to maximize their impact. Here are some tips for optimizing the floor plan of your inline trade show exhibit:

Understanding Your Goals:

  • What are you hoping to achieve at the show? Generate leads? Showcase a new product? Increase brand awareness? Knowing your goals will guide your layout decisions.

Optimizing Traffic Flow:

  • Don’t create a dead end! Encourage a natural flow through the booth with an open and inviting entrance.
  • Consider a “conversation corner” with comfortable seating at the back of the booth for in-depth interactions.
  • Leave enough space between displays and furniture to avoid congestion and allow attendees to move freely.

Making the Most of Limited Space:

  • Utilize vertical space! Eye-catching signage, hanging displays, or product shelves can draw attention without sacrificing floor space. Perimeter inlines are often permitted to go over 8 ft, which means you have the impact of an island but at the price of an inline. Check with show management for perimeter booths and guidelines. 
  • Interactive elements like demos or product trials can engage attendees and keep them lingering.
  • Strategic lighting can highlight key products or displays.
  • Interactive displays like touch screens or virtual reality experiences can create a memorable experience.


island trade show floor plan

Island booths at trade shows offer more space and freedom compared to inline booths. Here’s how to optimize the floor plan of your island exhibit to maximize engagement and achieve your trade show goals:

Goals First:

  • Define your objectives. Are you launching a product? Generating leads? Boosting brand awareness? This will guide your layout to best suit your needs.

Creating a Welcoming Flow:

  • Multiple entry points: Don’t block access with a single entrance. Allow attendees to enter from any side, encouraging exploration.
  • Circular flow: Design the layout to guide attendees on a natural loop around the booth, maximizing their exposure to your offerings.
  • Open walkways: Leave ample space between displays and furniture to avoid congestion and allow for comfortable movement.

Utilizing Space Effectively:

  • Think three-dimensional! Maximize vertical space with hanging displays, product shelves, or digital signage.
  • Storage solutions: Incorporate hidden storage for brochures, giveaways, or personal belongings to keep the main area clutter-free.
  • Dedicated zones: Create distinct areas within the booth for different purposes. For example, a product demo area, a registration area for lead capture, and a comfortable seating area for consultations.

Engaging Attendees:

  • Focal point: Designate a central attraction to draw attendees in. This could be a product display, live demonstration, or interactive experience.
  • Interactive elements: Incorporate touchscreens, product trials, or virtual reality experiences to grab attention and encourage engagement.
  • Clear messaging: Use concise visuals and impactful signage to communicate your brand message and key offerings.


peninsula trade show floor plan

A peninsula trade show exhibit offers a nice balance between the openness of an island booth and the directed flow of an inline booth. Here’s how to optimize the floor plan of your peninsula exhibit:

Understanding the Advantages:

  • Two open sides: This allows for more natural traffic flow compared to inline booths while still creating a defined space.
  • Strategic placement: Peninsula booths are often positioned at the end of aisles or corners, offering increased visibility.

Optimizing Traffic Flow:

  • Embrace the “V” shape: Design the layout to encourage a natural flow in a “V” pattern, guiding attendees past key displays on both sides.
  • Multiple entry points: Since you have two open sides, avoid blocking access with a single entrance. Allow attendees to enter from either side.
  • Consider a “meeting zone” at the closed back of the booth for focused interactions or product demonstrations.

Maximizing Space:

  • Utilize both sides strategically: One side can showcase larger product displays or create a central attraction, while the other can be dedicated to interactive elements, lead capture, or a registration area.
  • Vertical displays: Don’t waste wall space! Utilize hanging displays or product shelves along both open sides to showcase your offerings.
  • Storage solutions: Incorporate hidden storage under counters or behind displays to keep the main area clutter-free.

Standing Out and Engaging:

  • Strong visuals on both sides: Since attendees can approach from either direction, ensure impactful visuals and branding are present on both open sides of the booth.
  • Interactive elements: Incorporate engaging activities on both sides, like product trials, touchscreens, or live demonstrations, to attract attention and encourage exploration.
  • Staff on both sides: Have staff positioned strategically on both sides of the booth to greet attendees, answer questions, and capture leads.

In the end, the most important tool in your booth layout toolbox is a friendly and knowledgeable staff. An approachable will always be your best asset. Train them to engage attendees, answer questions, and take extensive notes after the conversation. 

3 Examples of Professional Trade Show Floor Plan Design 

Trade show plan views show a booth on a grid with each grid = 1 sq foot. Plan views are helpful for several reasons. First, they are ideal for mapping the electrical layout. The 1 ft. grids allow you to show exactly how and where the cords should go. Secondly, they provide visual spacing. 

For example, the distance from the backwall to the reception counter, which typically has a high traffic pattern or the distance of a demo workstation to the aisle. If the workstation is too close to the aisle, the attendee may be forced to stand in a crowded aisle instead of in your booth. Below are three three floor plans along with a rendering of the exhibit.  

ECO-4100 | 20 x 20 Island. Islands offer access from four sides but not every exhibit design takes advantage of that feature. The ECO-4100 does. The floor plan creates a series of workspaces, starting with the “can’t miss” reception counter. From there, guests are guided to opposing workstations. More in-depth conversations take place in the casual lounge in the center of the booth. In addition, the ECO-4100 uses the vertical space for optimal branding with a 16  ft. tower and ring header. This opens up space on the floor normally reserved for large-format graphics.  

trade show floor plan design

GK-2986 | 10 x 20 Inline. Meeting spaces are a popular trend in exhibit design. That’s easy in an island configuration but can be tricky in an inline. The GK-2986 strikes a balance with a distinctive reception counter with an iPad mount placed against the background of a large backlit graphic. The other side of the booth has ample space for a table and chairs (or even soft seating) all framed by a large graphic and monitor. There’s even closet storage for product samples, literature, or personal belongings. 

trade show booth floor plan

VK-1366 | 10 x 10 Inline. Small booth spaces, like a 10 x 10, can be challenging. Exhibitors want to show attendees everything they do, which isn’t realistic. There’s a balance. The VK-1366 shows this balance, starting with a backlit reception counter with storage. The counter graphic is large enough (and bright enough) to attract attention but not so big that it blocks access to the booth. The backwall has two backlit graphics for dual messaging and a pergola/shelving structure for physical products. 

exhibit layout

Elevate Your Event Presence With a Custom Trade Show Floor Plan 

Understanding how a well-designed floor plan can supercharge your exhibit marketing potential gives you a decisive advantage over your competition. This is where having a solid trade show planning guide becomes invaluable. Exhibit space is expensive, so it pays to create an environment that maximizes your potential to attract attendees and turn leads into sales. Working with a professional exhibit designer is the best place to start. They’ll take your goals and your budget and create a design tailor-made to your needs. 

Classic Exhibits has been designing and building trade show exhibit solutions since 1993. We’ve been honored as an Exhibitor Magazine Find-It Top 40 Exhibit Producers and an Event Marketer Fab 50 Exhibit Builders multiple times. Along with numerous Portable Modular Awards. With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative closer by. Contact us today whether you need a durable hand sanitizer stand built to last, a rental display guaranteed to attract trade show attendees, or a custom 30 x 40 exhibit with all the bells and whistles. We’re not just different. We’re better.

(4) Exhibit Design Search Tips

April 8th, 2024 COMMENTS
4 Exhibit Design Search Tricks

Here are (4) Exhibit Design Search tips to make searching and saving designs a bit easier. All are simple navigation techniques requiring nothing more than a click or two.

Exhibit Design Search

Trick #1: Advanced Search (below the search box) defaults to a show search view on any search. However, if you want a cleaner version of the search, simply delete “showsearch/” in the URL and hit “enter” on your keyboard.
Here’s the new version:

Trick #2: The Size/Price and Display Types menus have recently been updated and include links to Rentals, Portables, Quick Ships, and Sustainable Exhibits. Want to find a design SUPERFAST! Try them on the EDS home page.

Trick #3: Do you need to navigate from one gallery to another one? Don’t click back to the Home Page. Instead, use the Hamburger menu (upper right-hand corner) to quickly go to the next gallery.

Trick #4: Did you know you can search Past Five Days (photos) for kits, job numbers, and terms — like lightboxes, shelves, custom counters, product lines, etc.? Need to show your client an example of “backlit shelves” then type “backlit and shelves” to get a more targeted search.

If you have a clever EDS trick or suggestion, we would love to hear from you. Please share.


For 30 years, Classic Exhibits has been designing and building creative custom solutions for our Distributor Partners and their clients. As the largest private-label exhibit designer and builder in North America, we have the unmatched capability, capacity, and creativity to create 3D projects ranging from 10 x 10 inline displays to 60 x 80 double-deck islands. 

Find success on the trade show floor with an exhibit that reflects your marketing message. For more information, see and explore Exhibit Design Search or request a meeting with a Classic Distributor Partner.    

April Fool’s Day 2024 | Your Shared Knowledge Newsletter

April 1st, 2024 COMMENTS
April Newsletter
Meet OLEG -- Onsite, logistic, exhibit, guru

Onsite | Logistic | Exhibit | Guru

Hand him $20, a sub sandwich, and hot coffee

Starting in April, for a small fee (cash only please), Classic will have an OLEG option with every exhibit shipped in a wood crate. When your crate arrives, please let OLEG out, hand him a $20, hot coffee, and sub sandwich… he will do the rest! Leaving you time to wine and dine your valuable clientele while knowing your exhibit is being set-up on the show floor.

This new, revolutionary take on exhibit supervision is set to change the exhibit world. No more expensive flights and added hotel rooms for supervisors! OLEG travels in the crate WITH the exhibit! And if you know Classic crates, then you know he’s more than fine and comfortable on a 5-7 day LTL trip all across our great land. While you may have (shall we say delicate) questions about how OLEG can remain in a crate for 5-7 days, not to worry. We have solved that as well through the miracle of modern science. We’ll spare you the details, but rest assured, OLEG won’t suffer (too much).

Oleg Logistic Service
Wake me when the show is over

Lost your crate? OLEG travels with a cell phone. Just give him a call, and he can send you his location via “Find my iPhone.” Genius!

You’re probably saying to yourself, “This sounds amazing Kevin, but there has to be a catch. What’s the catch?” OLEG is only available for Direct-to-Show shipments. We had a recent “incident” when testing our new OLEG program on a shipment going to the Advanced Warehouse at MJBizcon in Q4 of 2023. Somehow, we lost track of the shipment. Poor OLEG was abnormally hungry for days until he was found. The GC charged the client an extra $10K in drayage because they had to bring him subs and hot coffee every two hours in the warehouse. Something about the munchies!

Contact us for a quote. There’s limited OLEG availability until we can clone him. We’re making progress, but he’s getting skittish about the long needles we use to extract his DNA. For a guy who travels cross country in an unheated crate, he’s kind of a big baby.

Eat my trade show booth
Fruit Rollup Trade Show Display

Landing on the EXHIBITOR Find It — Top 40 list has its advantages.

Last month, Classic was contacted by a well-known candy company out of Pennsylvania (rhymes with Dershey). They told us they’d read about us in EXHIBITOR magazine and felt we might be able to assist with a unique idea one of their marketeers had recently come up with… an edible display.

They asked if we had the ability to print on large sheets of their candy. As you probably already know, today’s printers can print on just about anything as long as the substrate fits under the printer heads. And when we told them that we had access to edible inks (just like that bakery down the street that can put your son’s face on his birthday cake), everyone started getting psyched!

We tested various versions at Summit Graphics PDX (our in-house printer) and eventually landed on the perfect print. We produced two 10×10 booths each with different edible graphics. It was impossible not to notice them as they were both radiant and aromatic!

During their four-day launch meeting, salespeople were encouraged to take bites out of the backwall. As the week progressed, and the candy graphics were noshed, the booth became more and more exposed.

By the time the meeting was over all that was left was the display’s framework and a header that read, “Nom, Nom, Nom.”

We’ve asked that they send pictures as soon as legally possible. Life can be sweet when you work with Classic Exhibits.

Classic Red for everyone

Why is Classic’s logo, a color combination of Red, Black, and White, so striking? These colors are foundational. The red, black, and white combination elicits a primal response in every culture.

Did you know the first colors to be named as languages evolved were always white and black, followed by red? People needed to distinguish between dark and light, and no color has more urgency than red. Think fire and blood, and the essence of life.

Given this inherent truth, Classic’s Design Department has implemented a rule to enhance all the designs that come through our department with red.


Depending on the client’s existing branding materials, we will ensure that at least 20% of printed graphics are red. In most cases it also makes sense to change the client’s logo to a black, white, and red color scheme. The response to our “Classic Red for Everyone” initiative has been OVERWHELMING!

We look forward to helping you sell more designs this year as we turn all your clients into facsimiles of Classic Exhibits Inc. Red Rules!

Neural implants will soon destroy the trade show business
Brain Implants will Destroy the Exhibit Industry
Brain Implants will Destroy the Exhibit Industry

Unless you live with Aunt Betty in a log cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you’ve read about artificial intelligence (AI). You may be wondering, “How much longer before the robot overlords force us to polish their shiny shoes and walk their robot dogs.”

AI, however, should be the least of your worries. If you build trade show exhibits, your livelihood may be threatened by brain implants. Brain implants are technological devices that connect directly to a subject’s brain – usually to the cortex.

Neural scientists have discovered how to use neural computer chips much like graphic rendering software to create vivid 3D images in your brain. And like augmented reality (but without the funny goggles), the visual projection is identical to the physical object.

We’ve recently learned that certain trade show associations, whose acronyms will remain nameless, have been funding research into this technology. Their goal is both evil (and to be honest quite brilliant). They want to eliminate ALL PHYSICAL TRADESHOW EXHIBITS.

It’s not a conspiracy theory if you believe it’s true

Instead, attendees will walk the trade show floor, but the exhibit designs will be virtual, beamed to their neural implants and projected to their ocular nerves. They’ll see the booth in 3D, but there will be no real physical displays, no carpeting, no pipe and drape. Bottled water, however, will still cost $12.

My source tells me that exhibitors will still be required to rent floor space. The software for uploading and beaming the virtual exhibits will be the new drayage cost. Booth staff will be real-time holographic images requiring dedicated fiber-based broadband speeds costing 1000s of dollars.

You’ve been warned. It’s coming! Be VERY VERY afraid.

As Amazon goes so goes Classic Exhibits
Classic Rental Solutions Fly-Me-There Rapid Rental Services

Not so long ago, your Amazon packages were delivered by UPS, FedEx, or USPS. That model, however, wasn’t sustainable as Amazon’s volume increased exponentially. Today, there are thousands of Amazon delivery trucks delivering packages throughout the day, even on nights and weekends.

At Classic Rental Solutions, we studied the Amazon delivery model and realized that if it could work for baking pans, oil filters, Rice-a-Roni, and socks that it could work for rental exhibits. We’ve hired a logistics team and ordered 2400 diesel trucks and electric vans. Beginning in Q3 2024, CRS will handle shipping to all major cities in North America. And by major cities, we’re talking cities with a population of 100k plus.

Day, Night, and Even Weekends

If you’re thinking, “This sounds kinda nuts!,” you couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s why… Not only are we adding 2,400 trucks and vans, but each and every one will have an expert driver fully trained to perform the installation and dismantle for all of the 413 designs currently shown in our rental galleries on the Classic Exhibits website.

That’s just the beginning. In the second quarter of next year, we plan to kick off our Next Day Air service with a fleet of Classic Cessna SkyCourier Turboprop planes. We understand you get last-minute requests and there are always going to be “life-gets-in-the-way” distractions. Recently, we missed an important life-threatening surgical appointment while binge watching the entire Seinfeld series over two weeks. It happens… don’t judge.

Look for the Classic Rental Solutions Fly-Me-There Rapid Rental Services, better known as CRS-FMT-RRS, in early 2025.

If you’ve ever played golf with Gina Porcaro, you know she likes to have fun on the golf course, especially in industry scrambles and doesn’t take the game too seriously. (This is what most people think anyway.) What you don’t know is that for years Gina has been quietly qualifying for her LPGA card.

What does the LPGA tour and designer wineskin bota bags have in common? Gina Porcaro.

This has required rigorous training with a top pro golf coach and a substantial investment in a custom golf simulator (photo attached) to train year-round, day and night in Michigan. In February Gina received her LPGA card! What does that mean for Gina’s future in the trade show business?

Time will tell, but Classic Exhibits has already agreed to sponsor her via a line of wineskin bota bags!

Congratulations Gina and watch out Nelly Korda!

Baseball Terms, Classic Style