In order for your customers to experience your trade show booth, they have to be able to find you. For that reason, selecting a trade show booth location is a little bit like buying a house–it’s all about location, location, location. The row you choose could be a key part of your event’s success. So before you make a decision that could influence your business all year long, be sure you’ve got your bases covered.
Here are 6 tips that can help you decide how to select the best possible trade show booth location for your company.
1. Don’t Go it Alone
Picking a trade show booth location is important, so don’t make your decision without consulting others first. Think about it like this, your business has investors, a board of directors, a CEO, CMO, CFO … but when it comes to one of the most valuable tools in the marketing toolbox, your trade show booth, all the pressure is on you. Why?
Get other people involved from the get go. It’s better to speak up now than to risk disappointing people later, so recruit your boss, their boss, and any relevant peers. They’ll each have insights, recommendations, and preferences that could help you make the right decision.
If you’re not sure how to go about asking for input, start by making a list of 5-10 questions you can ask all relevant people on your team. Do you want a bigger space in a less desirable location? Or a smaller space reaching a larger audience? Would you consider cross aisle locations? What’s something you wish you had done differently when choosing a booth location in the past?
Getting a consensus of input will help you better represent the requirements of your company when the pressure is on. You should come out of these meetings ready and able to devise a selection plan A, plan B, and maybe even a C. Plus, considering these variables up front allows you to manage expectations before the selection process even begins.
2. Understand that You Might Not Get to Pick
Speaking of managing expectations, you should make your team aware of the fact that every event has its own particular method for assigning trade show booth spaces. Be prepared for all of the below methods.
-The Points Method. This is based on weighted points for booth size, seniority, and support of the show (meaning, how much money you allocate to the show in sponsorships.)
-Indication of Preference Order. Here, the hosting association makes final selection.
-Assigned Spaces. Take what you get.
-First Buy, First Pick. This is usually for new shows, so if you’re considering a new trade show, try to act fast.
Remember, if you’re not sure how your upcoming trade show manages booth select, just ask. Trade show management is a resource that you should utilize.
3. Sometimes, You Have to Pay to Play
With the above considered, it might be worth your while to purchase sponsorships in order to nab a better position. If you have a new product introduction planned for next year, a hefty sponsorship could seriously improve your chances of having a successful trade show by giving you prime location on the floor. Sponsorship can also be helpful when you’re up against established, senior exhibitors who would otherwise get the best locations.
Again, don’t be afraid to ask show management whether or not sponsorships have an influence on trade show booth location. Look at it this way, trade shows are a profitable business for show management companies and associations, so why be afraid to talk money? Show management usually influences the hall with their biggest most senior exhibitors in mind. Knowing this is an advantage. Use it.
4. Know Before You Go
You’re putting a lot of work into engaging your trade show audience, so don’t let all that effort go to waste just because you didn’t do your homework. Start by examining the floor plans and show kits from previous years in order to learn which trade show booths draw the most year over year.
Watch out for columns indicated on the floor plan. They are often not clearly marked. Or if they are, the sheer scale of the show floor makes that 6-foot column look miniscule when in fact, they are literal road blocks for your business.
You can also try to predict foot traffic in certain areas in order to make a more informed decision about your trade show booth location. Even though there are a lot unknowable variables, you can still make practical inferences by calling the venue and asking about typical traffic for past shows. Consider asking questions like: Which is the “main” door? Where’s the registration area? Where are the restrooms? The food court? And so on. It may not be a perfect predictor, but having more information can only help you make a smarter decision.
To improve your research for next year, start taking notes as soon as you get inside your trade show booth. Check out where the competitors are and list physical considerations like columns, traffic flow, and main traffic aisles.
5. Start Advanced Preparation Way, Way in Advance
Speaking of planning ahead, you’re going to need time to collect the factors that will influence your trade show booth selection decision, so start early. If you’re called up to pick your trade show booth and you don’t have a plan, it’s already too late. Get out in front of the choice.
Many shows provide space selection on or after the first day. This means that any data you have on trade show ROI will come after you select your booth for the next year. So when choosing next year’s space, pay close attention to your first day’s performance. It could end up being your best indicator for next year’s event.
Additionally, you should plan ahead for venue changes. Your show is in Chicago this year, but what if it’s in L.A. next year? The game can totally change. Different floor plans mean a different exhibition layout. Time to start from scratch.
6. Re-Define Your Company
In many shows, how you define your company puts you in a certain category, competing for trade show booth space in a certain part of the hall. But… change your company definition and you’ll find yourself in a different section. This can influence the spaces you have to select from. It can also change the picking order. If your business sits comfortably within another, smaller category, why not switch?
Trade Show Booth Selection Recap
To sum it up, you should include other people in your planning process, go into your booth selection well-prepared and with a backup plan, utilize show management and previous data to get a better picture of the location, and consider upping your chances of success through sponsorships or a recategorization of your business definition.
Although space selection is important, don’t forget why you’re at the trade trade show to begin with–to create an unforgettable brand experience that keeps your name on their minds. No matter where you end up on the trade show floor, not even the best location in the building can compete with a well-designed trade show booth and a highly skilled sales team.
If you’re interested in expanding your reach and building an unforgettable experience inside your next trade show booth, we’d love to help.