When you inquire about a show and request information, you’ll receive a floor plan of exhibit space that’s currently available. Being a small business or a first-time exhibitor, you won’t get the prime spaces, because they go to larger exhibitors or companies who have been there before. Most of the smaller spaces are not in front or on main aisles, but that’s not all bad. One area I like to consider is either the right or the left end aisle, where a lot of the smaller spaces are located. When people attend a show, they usually start at one end aisle or the other as they go up and down the show floor. I think the least desirable area is the back aisle, unless you’re exactly in the middle of the end of another aisle. These are usually the last spaces to go, and if they’re not sold, they’re used for rest areas with chairs.
You don’t want to be close to any of your big competitors or anyone selling the same items you are. Ask the show manager who else is in your aisle and try to put in your contract that no exact duplicates of your products can exhibit in the same aisle as you will be in.
Being next to a large, well-known corporation’s booth is a good idea because their booth will attract a lot of visitors, which may spill over into your booth. People standing or waiting in the larger booth may see your sign and display, which they might have missed if you were located somewhere else.
You also don’t want to be anywhere in a dead-end aisle. The traffic flow will be less than half of the traffic in the other aisles, and there’s only one way in.
A corner space is great, but you may have to pay extra for it. The corner gives you exposure and entrances from two aisles, resulting in much more traffic. You just have to be sure your display will work in a space with two sides open.
Once you’ve been in a show, you’ll have an earlier chance to pick a space for that show the next year. Usually, the more years you do the same show, the earlier you get to choose your space for the next year’s show.
When you select the best space available, you’ll be asked to sign a contract and pay a deposit, which may or may not be refundable. The balance needs to be paid in full about 60 days before the show, and you can make payments as the time nears. If you’re a novice at this, you don’t want to learn by making mistakes, so ask someone else who’s been in a show for his or her help and opinion.