For more than 50% of CMOs and marketing directors, space and location on the exhibit floor are most important in maximizing ROI.
And that makes perfect sense.
With an accessible location and a major source of foot traffic nearby, a booth is likely to attract a lot of attendees. The higher the number of visitors, the greater opportunities for a business to raise awareness, get leads, and build relationships.
The location selection process, however, can be complicated, with various factors at play—from budget, to space requirements, to traffic flow and more. So here, in this handy guide, are all the important factors you need to take into consideration.
Quick Tip: Reserve Your Spot Early
Discounts immediately come to mind when talking about early-bird bookings. But the perks go beyond the lower costs: You gain more time for planning your marketing campaign, and more leeway in choosing your space.
Reserving your space well ahead of the show dates also puts you in a good position vis-à-vis the management and the organizers: You show that you're no tire-kicker and you're serious about exhibiting, compelling them to work more closely with you.
You can therefore ask for information crucial to your exhibit's success, such as...
- The previous year's floor plan (more on this later)
- The location of major competitors and industry players
- The location of the biggest show sponsors
- And more...
With your presence at the exhibit guaranteed more or less, it's time to do some math.
Determine the Amount of Space You Need
Before picking your marketing real estate in the hall, you must decide on the amount of space for your booth. And the answer hinges on a few important considerations, first among them the objective for exhibiting.
For example, if you plan to provide confidential one-on-one consultations to potential customers, you will want to have enough room in the booth so people don't overhear each other; or, for showcasing your entire product line, you need to account for multiple display shelves in your calculations while giving visitors and employees enough space to move about.
Though your marketing objectives help you determine the amount of space you'll need, your overall exhibiting budget decides how much space you can get.
Unsurprisingly, the actual space often takes up the largest slice (about 30%) of your marketing pie. So, if your total budget for exhibiting is $27,000, you should allocate $8,100 to $9,000 for the space alone.
With both your marketing goals and your budget established, you're now ready to shop for the stand that falls within both limits. Here are some examples you'll encounter:
- Island stand: This stand is open from all four sides, giving an inviting vibe and allowing for easy entrance and exit. If you're displaying multiple products, however, the absence of walls means you need to bring freestanding furniture, which can add to your shipping costs.
- Inline stand: As the name suggests, this one sits alongside other stands, with only a single point of entry. Although it's not as inviting as the island stand, an inline stand's three walls allows for maximum product exposure.
- Corner stand: Sitting at the end of a row with two sides open, the corner stand can garner a lot of attention from attendees while affording plenty of design and display options.
- Walk-through stand: Also known as a tunnel, this stand has two parallel open sides and two parallel sidewalls. The walk-through stand is often positioned in a passage between halls.
Study the Floor Plan
After deciding on the amount of space and type of stand you need, picking the right location boils down to two questions:
- Where can I capture the most traffic?
- What "bummers" do I have to avoid?
Studying the show's floor plan can give you vital answers to both. Here are some of the important steps and considerations when surveying the venue.
Find the Entrances
To start your floor plan analysis, you will want to look at the number and location of entrances to the hall, as they are sure to get a lot of foot traffic. Setting up shop close to an entrance is almost always a good idea, often translating to a steady stream of booth visitors.
I say "almost," because exceptions exist.
Freight doors are one such exception. If you exhibit near one, you're likely to have to wait until everyone else has loaded their stuff into the hall. That delays your booth setup, and so you are also likely to pay overtime to the setup crew. After the show, you may need to pack up immediately, to make way for the outgoing crates and exhibitor supplies.
Important Note About the Main Entrance
Positioning near the main entrance can boost your display's exposure, but you need to be careful not to stand too close to it.
Organizers often place a large signage near the registration areas and those signs may block the view to your location. Visitors who just checked in may also walk straight into the center of the hall, ignoring your booth as they orient themselves.
If you plan on exhibiting near the main entrance, putting some distance between your stand and the entryway itself is highly recommended.
Other High-Congestion Areas
Spots near the entrance come at a premium price, but you need not worry if it's beyond your budget. You can stand near other high-congestion areas where you can attract plenty of visitors, minus the steep cost. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Conference and meeting rooms
- Restrooms, escalators, and elevators
- Restaurants, food stands, theaters, and other attractions in the hall
- Standing near major sponsors of the show can also work to your advantage.
More than 70% of attendees love brands that deliver great experiences. And you can bet that the big sponsors are coming with their crowd-pulling activation ideas to serve up that experience—from relaxation lounges packed with amenities, to VR tours and games, to gamified workshops... you name it!
Attendees leaving from those sponsored attractions are also likely to be in a good mood, making them more receptive to your pitch.
What Else to Avoid
We've looked at freight doors and how they can delay your setup and incur additional costs. But other features and structures in the hall can also get in the way of your exhibit's success.
Big concrete columns can block the line of sight of potential visitors, and having one inside your stand can reduce your moving space. Air conditioning vents, on the other hand, can limit the height of your stand and your ability to stand out.
Safety features like fire alarms and extinguishers are red flags, too. Local regulations often require keeping the space around such fire apparatus clear, forcing you to change or reduce the size of your layout.
When studying the floor plan, ask the exhibit's management to clearly mark these locations and structures in the venue so you can avoid them.
Pre-show marketing and high-quality visuals sure help in maximizing the bang you get for every buck spent. But in face-to-face marketing, one must remember that location is a major factor.
Use the simple steps and ideas in this article to get your exhibit in a good spot, so your staff and show materials can work their magic.