What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? Well if you are like me you think of the old real estate adage that speaks to the importance of location when one is in search of a new home or rental property. A British real estate tycoon who owned a super expensive estate in one of London’s fashionable districts supposedly first coined the phrase. Some also speculate that the word ‘location’ is repeated three times to call out the tier of priorities: excellent location, a mediocre location or a lousy location.
Now I am not scribing this blog to tell you that ELITeXPO is now in the business of selling or renting houses, nor am I here to tell you that we will be featured on the next episode of HGTV’s ‘House Hunters’, although I always said there should be a reality show about tradeshows. However, I am here to tell you that this age-old ‘Location-Location-Location’ adage rings very close to home for all of us in the tradeshow industry. Think of your tradeshow booth property as a temporary home, (albeit for maybe 3 days) while you are exhibiting at the show. Now think of the show floor/exhibit hall as something akin to a small town or city. On the floor there are different types/designs of booths, many different sizes and configurations, and in some cases different sections of the floor will designate different types of companies or service offerings, or different demographics, if you will.
If you follow this thinking then it ‘s not hard to reason that searching for a prime spot on the show floor for one’s display is really no different than locating that prime piece of real estate for your home. Many industry veterans have always stood by the notion that your booth location on the show floor is one of the most important factors that can determine whether or not you will have good traffic at your booth and an overall successful show.
Booth Space Selection
Selecting the best trade show booth location can be a very daunting task for even the most experienced veteran when having to take into consideration such factors as logistics and traffic flow patterns in any given convention center/hall. Truth be told, whether you are a long time exhibitor with many shows under your belt or a first timer, identifying and securing the best locations for a trade show booth requires a bit of strategic planning coupled with a solid understanding of the dynamics of trade show floors.
For example; one might think the best place to setup a trade show exhibit is at or near the front door, right? I mean it seems to make sense, get them when they first come in, be the first booth that the attendee gazes their eyes upon as they enter this maze of booths. Well, believe it or not, that is not necessarily the case. You see, some experts would argue that because the entrance and exit is typically right near the front of the tradeshow floor, this area is typically heavily congested with attendees that are either just walking in for the first time and overwhelmed by the massive crowd, or are ready to leave and are no longer focused on the exhibits - both of which is not conducive to generating strong leads for your business.
Here is another interesting fact about traffic flow through a trade show. People in the United States tend to flow down the right side of the trade show first, and people in Europe tend flow down the left side of the trade show first. These habits are believed to have formed naturally as a result of driving habits - what side of the road people are used to driving on in the United States (right side) and in some parts of Europe (left side).
Therefore, if you were an exhibitor at a trade show in the United States, one ideal location would be the right hand side and further down from the main entrance to the trade show. Likewise if one were exhibiting in Europe - somewhere down along the left hand side would be most ideal.
Here is some strategic thinking for booth placement that falls in line with ‘Location-Location-Location’:
- Keep some distance between you and your competitors. Try to avoid having to share your audience with your competitor next door!
- Look for main aisles, typically high traffic areas. For example, ends of rows and corners spaces attract traffic from intersecting aisles.
- Try to locate your booth along the major path to seminar rooms, especially if the seminar will be a prominent item on the show agenda.
- Consider a location that might be near (not next to) any food service areas and restrooms that afford high volumes of traffic. Important to note, some experts disagree with this theory because these attendees have their own personal agenda when visiting these areas, and stopping by your booth is probably not high on their priority list.
- Don’t confuse high traffic with congestion. Congestion can actually hurt your lead and sales prospects at a show, to the point where it is challenging to initiate meaningful conversation with a potential customer(s).
- If you are a repeat exhibitor, you should continually ask yourself, do I desire the same location as last year? You will want to consider how long you have been in that spot, do your customers expect you to be there. Then again, if there is a more advantageous location available, it might be worth the move.
- Avoid dead end aisles, spaces obstructed by columns, and last but not least, overhanging ceiling pipes or large exhaust vents!
Location is Key to ROI
In summary, when evaluating prime booth real estate on the show floor, view it like you are scouting for a house, condo, or even the ever popular mobile ‘tiny house’! First and foremost, think ‘Location-Location-Location’! Remember that the location of your booth in the exhibit hall can be key to you getting the maximum amount of desired traffic and resulting ROI. Lots of quality traffic can equate to a higher number of qualified sales leads, which is what any event tradeshow manager strives for in order to get a solid ROI from their face-to-face marketing initiatives.