The Ultimate Trade Show Booth Design Guide for 202216 min read

Exhibiting at a trade show or a business event soon? Follow these tips to succeed at your next event. Make sure to get the perfect booth in time and on budget.

Preparing for a trade show can be a long and complex project. According to your business goals, your planning and your budget, you will have plethora of options, whether you go for a full custom booth exhibit, a rental booth or a modular trade stand.

With the event industry back on its feet after a year of uncertainty, trade shows are finally going ahead again. All the lights are on green as Ingrid Burton, CMO at Quantcast, says in an article recently published in Forbes: ‘Covid-19 Couldn’t Kill Trade Shows And Events’

Professionals from all industries are more than ever ready to go back to trade shows to meet business partners, network and do business.

That’s where you need to be. And you need to be there with the best trade show graphics and stand design.

What makes a good display booth? How do you run a successful trade show booth? How do you get your booth to stand out at a trade show? How do I find the right booth builder partner? How do you manage your budget? How do you make sure everything will be ready and delivered on time?

Here is our 2022 Step-By-Step Trade Show Booth Design Guidelines to make your dream booth building project come true!

  1. Your booth objectives and strategy
  2. Your trade show design budget
  3. Find the right partner
  4. Focus on your brand identity
  5. Your stand graphics
  6. All your booth options
  7. Your dream booth step-by-step
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How to set your booth budget and strategy?

What are your marketing and sales objectives?

Trade shows are a very effective way to meet your potential customers face-to-face and grow your business and brand awareness. But more concretely, exhibiting at an industry event can have various objectives.

You need to involve your team and upper management in your company to make sure everybody is aligned on those objectives. It can be a combination of:

  • Entering a new market
  • Reaching out to new prospects
  • Meet and nurture recurring customers
  • Finding marketing or business partners
  • Grow brand awareness to a targeted audience
  • Sign new deals on-site
  • Etc.

Building a comprehensive event strategy by exhibiting at several events a year can be costly for your company. That’s why you need to have clear and shared marketing goals inside your organisation to bring all teams with you on the road to success.

How to define a trade show design budget?

Your trade show booth should be around 10% to 20% of your overall event budget.

This includes:

  • The stand design workflow
  • The booth builder services
  • The booth storage and delivery to the event
  • Graphics signage
  • Trade show display hardware


But this doesn’t include:

  • The exhibition space
  • Additional services from the organisers like parking fees, extra communication options etc.


Be wise and prioritize the assets that are actually going to make a difference. Focus on ROI according to your event goals.

During the first steps of your trade show design project working with your booth builder partner, prioritize the stand features that matter most.

The booth partner you will choose will have plenty of fancy options. Many of them can make a difference to reach your business goals. But some probably won’t.

Leave behind the extra assets that are too expensive in order to stay within your initial budget.

Expert tip: Some assets that you will buy for your show are re-usable for other shows in the future. Estimate the total life-span of reusable displays and take it into account when calculating your overall budget.

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How to find the right booth builder

The booth builder industry is a very competitive landscape and you can waste a lot of time talking to several companies that have very similar services to each other. However, you need to find the right partner that you can trust, that will understand your needs and meet them in your budget.

What are you looking for when choosing your booth partner?

What do I need to get sorted before starting to engage with booth builders?

  • Make sure you have sign off on exhibiting at the trade show both internally and with the organiser
  • Have sign off on your budget, booth size and booth location in advanced if possible
  • What is the type of booth you’re looking for? A custom stand or a rental booth? Do I need a one shot booth or a reusable stand for a series of events?
  • Come up with a clear and realistic plan according to the starting date of your event
  • Come up with booth design ideas, examples and inspirations to get the ball rolling quickly

You need to engage with several trade show design companies with whom you can discuss your needs. Following on from these early stage discussions, you will get a 3D render of your exhibits trade show project with a detailed quote.

What is a booth design rendering?

This is the most important step of your custom or rental booth project. Also called 3D renders, the 3D booth design rendering is a custom file that sums up the future design of your stand with pictures, dimensions, details, etc. according to your requirements and graphics. This is where things start to get real!

Most booth builders will carefully check the credibility of your project before providing a render because it is costly for them. So make sure you have a solid project with a realistic budget before asking for it.

The earlier you can get the 3D render for your booth the easier it will be for you to give feedback and move forward.

👉 Receive free 3D renders from experienced booth builders to prepare your next show

The trade show booth design process in a nutshell

To sum up, here are the main steps when it comes to managing your trade show booth design before the show.

1. The needs assessment part

Once you start to get in touch with a booth builder, the first step will be to discuss your needs in detail. Try to prepare this step as much as possible (business goals, budget, planning, design ideas, etc.).

The partner will probably challenge you a little and you will start to talk about the budget. With most partners, you’ll have to fill out a form to get the ball rolling.

All the information you provide will guide the design partner regarding what type of booth you need and regarding what are your options according to your budget and timeframe.

Based on those first discussions, as we said earlier, the booth partner will provide sketches and visuals of an exhibit design that fits your needs.

2. The exhibits concept and 3D rendering

Some partners will provide detailed 3D rendering with advanced mockups and sketches.

Some partners might provide lighter renders with simple drawings to quickly give concrete ideas of what are your options. Then regarding your feedback and as the discussions move forward, you’ll get a more established booth rendering with a lot more details.

If you don’t quickly get a 3D rendering early in the process, ask for it. This part is probably the most important one as you need to understand what potential directions your project can take as early as possible. Discussions around your exhibits options will take time and will probably involve other colleagues in your organisation. Be reactive and proactive as much as you can.

You must end up with very detailed frameworks and exhibits. The project manager in charge of your booth will send you all the specifications regarding your stand: materials, construction blocks, sizes, building methods, graphics…

3. Project proposal, review and approval

Once the full project is validated, your booth project manager will send you a detailed proposal with all the elements and related costs as well as terms and conditions. Now you have everything to validate the booth with your upper management and kick it off!

4. Booth Building and Event Launch

As soon as the proposal is being signed, the building process starts off. Your exhibit project manager will inform you at each step of the process. They will review deadlines with you: building, storage, shipping etc. The construction part can take several weeks for complex projects so keep the communication going back and forth with your project manager. If you can, you will probably be invited to check your booth on-site to validate everything yourself.

Everything will be ready for the show. If you booked some show services, a show services manager will be here to assist you and make sure everything is set up the way you wanted it. Your project manager will be available full time as well to provide support for the show.

How to design a powerful stand that fits with your brand?

Your booth represents the image of your company. It’s the cover page of your business. If people find it appealing and consistent to your brand, they will surely stop to find out more. Follow these special event marketing tips to stand out at a trade show.

The marketing or communication department in your company must have brand guidelines that sums up the main elements of your brand policy. Your booth design must match them all:

  • Engage the communication team of your company
  • Use the corporate identity guidelines of your company as the pillar of your booth design
  • Keep the exact pantone colours of your brand
  • Use the corporate taglines of the company

If you are not sure your company has official brand guidelines, here are some examples of great company brand guidelines from other well-known organizations.

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How to manage your stand graphics and content?

It’s the details that matter. The best way to deliver your message to the trade show audience is through your graphics.

The most important question around your graphics is how to attract more visitors to your stand.

There are 3 dimensions to take into account for your stand graphics:

  • Long distance graphic components: generally high-height graphics that will give you visibility from everywhere in the trade show floor.
  • Mid-distance graphic components: when a prospect walks down the trade show hall and comes close to your stand, these are the graphics that will make him stop and meet your representatives for more information. It needs to be highly engaging.
  • Short-distance graphics: this is what the prospect is going to read when he’s standing at your stand. They need to be informative.

How can I make a booth stand out?

Each graphics must tell your brand story. You need consistency between your product, your brand, your graphics and your sales team’s pitch and storytelling.

You need to deliver a memorable, unique, immersive experience to your audience. Your booth design is the cornerstone of that experience. Here are a few best practices to follow:

  1. Use bright colors: your design needs to be striking. If your company brand colors are dull, you need to mix them with flashy tones. Ideally, you should mix a primary color (50-60%) with a secondary color (40-30%) and an accent color (10-20%).
  2. Create a meaningful theme around your booth: a consistent theme throughout your stand will help your team deliver your message. Sure your booth needs to highlight your product and services, but a consistent theme will have a higher impact and will draw more attention than your product features. Think about your target audience concerns to find the perfect theme. Make people curious.
  3. Leave empty space in your stand area: people like to stand where they feel comfortable standing. You probably have dozens of assets and displays to incorporate to your booth space but keep it nice and simple. You need to be able to host several visitors at the same time because there is a poor chance that people will queue to discover your stand.
  4. Host a product demonstration space: people will stop at your stand because they are curious about your product. Give them an interactive way to discover it. It’s easy if you’re selling hardware products, it’s a bit more difficult if you’re selling a software or intangible services. But still you can use digital device or physical mock ups to make it tangible and real in the eyes of potential customers.
  5. Focus on your meeting area: this is where the magic happens. You need an environment to encourage animated conversation around your services. It needs to reflect your brand story as well as making people feel comfortable to cut them off from the noisy trade show floor.

How to leverage visitors’ attention

You can use multiple assets to leverage visitors’ attention:

  • Lightning: lights are crucial to your booth structure. The perfect lightning experience can be very subtle. There are several kind of assets to consider in that category: spotlights, strobe lights, hanging lights, ambient lights, LED and decorative light bulbs… The right combination will help you create that immersive experience you are looking for while highlighting the strategic assets of your booth.
  • Counters, tables, and display cases: those assets will give consistency in your booth space. Use them to leverage your booth experience but don’t stuff too much furniture to leave those strategic empty spaces.
  • Screens and digital devices: people like to stare at screens. A good video content display on a nice and large screens can be enough to make people stop at your stand. You need to have high-quality screens but above all, you need quality content to display. Opt for interactive content with tactile devices for a more engaging experience. Innovations in recent years have been game-changing in this area. Virtual reality and Augmented Reality are definitely options to consider.
  • Giveaways and promotional items: people love free stuff. Here there is an endless list of possibilities, from the cheapest items to the most memorable gifts. Know your audience to make a difference with your giveaways. Think outside of the box. The stand next door probably already give away pen and USB keys.
  • Food and beverage will definitely make people have a good time at your booth.
  • Activities: photo booth, real-time surveys, VR masks, amusing challenges, lottery draws… as long as they’re consistent with your brand, activities can be a game-changing asset to attract prospects and make your booth stand out.

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There are few other considerations that you need to take into account such as:

  • Flooring: the floor of your exhibition space will create the atmosphere that you want for your prospect. Don’t underestimate it as it has a great impact on the final result.
  • Storage: especially if your trade show lasts for more than a day, you will need storage. Not only to keep your stuff safe during the show, but also to keep your booth clean and tidy.

What are your booth options?

Your project will start to get concrete when you start to have a good conversation with your both partner. Try to engage with potential booth partners as early as possible in the process. In order to have good quality conversations, you need to understand each other and talk the same language.

You need to be able to clearly explain your requirements according to the booth space you booked, your budget and the booth options you’re interested in. Let’s see what the different types of stands are depending on your location on the trade show floor.

What is a Corner Booth?

A corner booth is nothing more than a booth located at a corner of the show floor. It’s a good option for exhibitors as it has 2 aisles open. Indeed, they are often comfortable spaces compared to inline booths. If you go for a corner booth, just make sure you’re located somewhere on the event floor with good traffic because you don’t want to be at the far corner of the show, far away from the main entry.

What is an Inline Booth?

Inline exhibits mean your booth spaces is included in a series of side-to-side or back-to-back booths. Indeed, if you opted for an inline booth space, your stand will be surrounded by other companies (eventually competitors, check the floor plan carefully with the organiser to know your surroundings) and you will have only one side of your booth that is exposed to the trade show alley.

What is a Cross-Aisle Booth?

Cross-Aisle Booths are small booths perpendicular to the main aisle of the trade show floor. It’s usually quite small but offer multiple advantages:

  • it’s open on several sides which gives many opportunities to arrange your booth with displays
  • they offer a good visibility as they are often located at a prime spot of the main aisle
  • there is a high-demand for this kind of booth

What is a Peninsula Booth?

Peninsula exhibits are usually at the end of a booth line with a 3 sides exposure to the trade show hall which is a huge benefit compared to inline booths. If you have the budget and go for a peninsula booth, make sure you get the best out of the 3 open sides. These are large booth spaces (usually 20×20 or more).

What is a Perimeter Booth?

Perimeter exhibits are basically an inline booth with a wall behind instead of another booth. Compared to an inline booth, you will potentially have the opportunity to have an extra exposure with the wall that’s behind your stand. Check with the organiser how high you can use the wall for brand exposure.

What is an Island Booth?

Island exhibits are the best kind of space you can get. The name says it all. It’s open on every side of the booth which is perfect to bring the maximum of traffic to your exhibition stand.

No matter what is your booth project, our ultimate recommendation is to start the conversation with a potential partner as soon as possible. Time flies and the next day, everything has to be ready for the show.

Tradefest connects you with experienced and trusted partners to help you succeed at your next show. Give it a try, it’s free with no commitment needed at all.

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Once you’re all set with your booth, you can let the sales workforce do the rest! To make it a success, you need to send experienced sales reps that know how to perform at a show. To better understand what expectations can be set, here are some tips with trade show dos and don’ts.