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Portable Exhibit Booth: Trade Show Stand Options Explained

Alison was Exhibition coordinator for a UK firm for many years, responsible all aspects of her company's Trade Show presence.

Once your company has decided to exhibit at trade shows and exhibitions as a method of promoting products and services and gaining new business, you will need to decide on the first show to exhibit at and the amount of money available from the marketing budget.

The next step is to give careful consideration to the type of exhibition stand or trade show booth that will represent best value for money, be most flexible and provide the best return on investment.

It may be that you are unsure about using exhibitions at all and you just want to 'put a toe in the water' and try them out. In this case, you might prefer to use the trade show's own hardwall exhibit system (known as shell scheme in the UK), or prefabricated stand option mentioned below.

These are ready-made trade show booths provided by the organizers and this option will require very little capital investment as you will only have to purchase posters and graphics to go on the walls of the stand.

If you are likely to do a lot of exhibiting, a modular exhibit booth might be the answer as this provides excellent scope for adaptation to whatever size space you have at an exhibition and, as demonstrated by the photograph below, can look as good as a stand that has been especially designed and built for your company.

If portability and flexibility are most important to you, the superb range of pop-up, portable display booths and banner stands will be your best option for a trade show booth that looks brilliant for a modest investment.

Pop Up Booths

Pop up booths, or stands as they are called in Europe, can be put together in a number of configurations to suit the space available. This example is from Nomadic. Graphics can be replaced to update the stand or to demonstrate a different aspect of your company’s product or service dependent upon the exhibition you are attending.

Pop Up Display Stand from Nomadic.  These Pop Up Stands are practical and portable.

Pop Up Display Stand from Nomadic. These Pop Up Stands are practical and portable.

Banners stands can be put together to make a complete stand at a smaller exhibition (as shown below) or used as a backdrop for presentations. There are several types available. In addition to the rigid pole banner stands, tension pole banner stands and retractable banner stands, there are now quick-screen banner stands as pictured below.

Roller banner stands are both versatile and inexpensive and allow for the graphics cartridge to be changed without purchasing a new stand framework. For outdoor use, roller banners are available with weighted bases and are designed to avoid being blown over by wind.

quickscreen banner stand display from

quickscreen banner stand display from

Modular Exhibit Booths

Modular booths or stands are perhaps the interim between a pop up display and a bespoke exhibition booth designed especially for your company. This system offers a versatile range of components which can be re-made in various configurations dependent upon the size of the space available and your requirements for a particular show.

In my opinion, modular stands can have advantages over a trade show booth design that has been made especially for your company as these can be inflexible and unless you get the same space as each exhibition you go to, it can be difficult to adapt. Modular booths, by contrast, allow you to remove or add elements as required.

If you want to add extra impact to your stand and only have a small amount of space left to play with, why not consider adding X banner stands or teardrop banners as these provide eye-catching graphics for minimal outlay, enabling you to attract more visitors to your stand by promoting a show offer or new product in a visually stunning way.

This image of the Wyvale Nurseries Stand at the NEC shows how a modular stand (in this case from Clip Display) can look as good as a bespoke exhibition stand.

This image of the Wyvale Nurseries Stand at the NEC shows how a modular stand (in this case from Clip Display) can look as good as a bespoke exhibition stand.

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Using the Organisers' Hardwall Exhibit System

If you do not want to go to the expense of purchasing your own exhibition booth or hiring one. some exhibition organizers offer booth spaces in what is known in North America as a hardwall exhibit system (shell scheme in the UK).

Although not as common in the US as in the UK, this option is where the organizers have contractors build a framework of several exhibition booths and you take one of these for the duration of the show.

If you are trying trade show exhibiting for the first time and are not sure whether it will be right for your company, I strongly recommend that for your first exhibition, you try this option if it is available at the show you are attending -- as this is the cheapest method of exhibiting.

A hardwall or shell scheme stand measures about 3 meters by 2 meters and 2.5 meters high. The stand panels are often made of loop nylon enabling posters etc. to be affixed with Velcro. The organizers will not permit the use of Blu-tack, sticky fixers, glue, double sided pads, nails or screws. Fascias are provided to all open sides of the stand. The organizers will ensure that the stand number and your company name appear on one fascia board.

An example of' hardwall exhibit' or 'shell scheme', each compartment is a ready made trade show booth. All you supply is the graphics.

An example of' hardwall exhibit' or 'shell scheme', each compartment is a ready made trade show booth. All you supply is the graphics.

Exhibit Booth Sharing: A Less Expensive Option For Trade Shows

Share a Stand, Share the Costs

If you are part of an association, or suppliers to a particular group, or one of a number of companies within a group it may be worth thinking about a shared exhibition booth. There are a number of advantages to this:

  1. You will be able to afford a larger booth with greater impact.
  2. Different aspects of a common theme make a more interesting proposition to the visitor.
  3. You can help each other and introduce visitors to stand colleagues from another company if this is of interest to the visitor.
  4. There is an economy of scale.
  5. If you co-ordinate and organise the stand you can reduce your own costs at the exhibition by charging the companies who share the stand with you and on-costing the price.
  6. If you are inexperienced, sharing a stand with another more experienced company could pay dividends.

Important Thoughts to Keep in Mind

The Best Booth Position Within The Trade Show

When you book an exhibition or trade show, the area of your booth will have been decided by the budget allowed but the golden rules for the position you choose for your stand, whether you are utilizing hardwall (shell) Scheme or your own trade show booth are as follows:

  1. Ensure your stand can be easily seen upon approach.
  2. Ensure your stand is as open as possible. Therefore, a stand with two open sides is ideal and a corner position is great.
  3. Ensure that you choose a stand position where the corridor in front is as wide as possible so that bottlenecks are not created when people are viewing your stand.

Important Things To Remember When You Book An Exhibition or Trade Show

  1. As soon as you have booked your booth space, enter the dates in the diary and schedule in the various dates of payment. A typical exhibition will require a small deposit payable immediately and then two or three stage payments with the final one being made about three months ahead of the exhibition date.
  2. Always book hotel accommodation early if you need to stay overnight at a show as the choice will be both more limited and more expensive as the date of the exhibition approaches.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Alison Graham (author) from UK on October 08, 2018:

Thanks so much for your kind comment, I'm glad my article about portable trade show stands was useful to you and wish you every success with your upcoming trade show.

tent777 on October 08, 2018:

Thanks Alison! For sharing the information , it is very much helpful for me as I am participating in trade show in near future.

Alison Graham (author) from UK on January 09, 2017:

Thanks for your comment DxpDisplayca, I'm glad you found the information I provided on options for a trade show stand, helpful.

Alison Graham (author) from UK on July 16, 2011:

Thanks Charles, yes the shell scheme is, as you say mostly seen this side of the pond! Thanks for your kind comment, I checked out your site - any chance of you doing a guest post on my site ? Please get in touch via contact me if this is of interest.

Charles Dugan on July 16, 2011:

Comprehensive post, Alison. The shell scheme seems to be mostly a European format, not so often seen on this side of the pond. I'm impressed by the work you've put into your hubpages - nicely done!

Alison Graham (author) from UK on May 24, 2011:

Thank you SmashHitDisplays, I actually wrote an article about using tension fabric structures to create hanging displays that can be seen from a distance at the trade show on my site, - here is the link

SmashHitDisplays on May 23, 2011:

Great tips, especially on having a trade show booth with an open layout. I have found that truss systems tend to work the best for this reason, as well as its eye-catching design. Also, if you want to make your trade show booth more visible, consider using a hanging banner or banner stand that can easily be seen from the aisles. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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