Trade shows offer your brand a unique moment. When waves of attendees flood onto a show floor, they’re presented with a host of other brands in your industry. When that moment comes, your trade show booth design is the first impression they have of your brand. You need to make that count. Your trade show booth should align with your specific goals for that trade show.

Buying vs. Renting 

The first financial decision any business has to make when considering a new trade show booth is whether to rent or buy. On average, it costs around $165 per square foot to buy a booth. Renting that same booth is possible for a third of the cost. That’s just one of the reasons renting is better.

Why is buying a booth so much more expensive than renting?

Booth ownership comes with a host of additional costs that aren’t related to building or designing the booth. Storage, ongoing maintenance, and handling fees all add to the cost of owning a trade show booth. With a rental, you don’t incur any of those costs and you maintain flexibility because you can custom design your rental to match the needs of individual trade shows.

What to remember when pricing out a rental booth?

  • Service and labor  These are the biggest areas of inflation to watch out for. Most trade show booth rental companies offer estimates of these costs, but they’re often wrong and include a 30% markup on all labor. At Steelhead, clients are provided with a fixed price. If your project goes over budget, we eat the cost.
  • Included items  About $65 per square foot is a good rule of thumb for the cost of a rental booth, and that price should include things like custom graphics, flooring, finishes, and rental furniture.
  • Reused assets  The first rental booth is always the most expensive. Over time, you can reuse assets that will help drive down the costs of subsequent booths. 

Designing for the Moment

Renting isn’t just more cost-effective, it results in better booths. With a trade show booth rental, your brand can create a custom-designed booth for each and every trade show you attend. This flexibility allows you to create something that aligns with specific regions, markets, trends, and changing campaign strategies. Steelhead’s custom-designed booths can help you seize the unique possibilities that each trade show presents. They allow you to design for the moment. 

Our Design Principles

So, what makes a good design? Great trade show booths should align with your brand’s campaign for that specific trade show. They should be captivating, functional, and engaging for attendees. And, they should be informative, providing potential clients the opportunity to learn more about your brand and engage with your staff. Here are a few key design principles to keep in mind. 

Tailor displays to your target demographics

The displays you use should reflect your target demographic, which can change from market to market and trade show to trade show. Consider how you want your brand to be perceived in each individual moment and design your displays to match.

Consider traffic flow and barriers

Successful booths spend a lot of time considering traffic flow and barriers. At their peak, trade shows can turn into awfully crowded areas, which is why it’s critical for attendees to be able to enter and exit your booth from multiple points. Within your booth, a clear flow will allow people to move between areas and engage with your staff to ask questions and learn more about your brand.

Let pros Handle the Hard Stuff

Trade shows are riddled with rules and requirements for booth designs, like height restrictions. Having a pro handle your booth design ensures that you’re working with someone who knows the ins and outs of the trade shows, leaving you free to handle the nuts and bolts of your next strategy.

Incorporating tech into your booth 

Today’s trade show booths utilize some of the most incredible technology around. From augmented reality experiences to pressure sensor mapping, there’s no limit to the amount of tech you can incorporate into your booth. But be careful not to let tech take over. Trade shows are built on human interaction and direct connections with potential and existing clients. Pairing your new tech with a hands-on demonstration led by one of your staff; using tech games to add an element of attention, curiosity, and interaction with your product; or driving engagement through social media are some of our favorite ways to tack tech onto your next trade show.

Client Case Study — Building a Bigger Impact for Alarm.com 

When Alarm.com came to Steelhead looking to make a bigger impact at their next trade show, we were up for the challenge. The smart home and business security company needed to engage attendees with their full range of products, but they weren’t sure how to do it.

Working with their marketing teams, we designed a booth with three interactive zones that simulated different product environments. In a single booth, Alarm.com was able to take attendees through a bakery to illustrate their small business capabilities, a smart home’s living room to showcase residential services, and a separate zone that focused on their GPS technology.