Trade Show Displays

Buyer’s Guide: Types of Trade Show Displays

Buyer’s Guide: Types of Trade Show Displays & Booth Sizes

Trade shows provide plenty of advertising opportunities and showcase your brand to potential customers, investors, and other business connections. First impressions matter a lot, so it makes sense that you’ll want to get it right with your display.

You can go for simple and minimalist or choose an elaborate and bold display. Between these two extremes are many options that you can choose from for the type and design of your trade show displays.

Choosing the Right Trade Show Displays

With so many options available to you, what criteria should you use to select one over the other? What qualifies a trade show display to be a better fit for your brand over the others?

Among the primary factors that should inform your decision include the budget you are working with, your goals, and your needs. Some types cost more, while others are quite budget-friendly. The ultimate goal should be building brand recognition. That said, do you need something easy to set-up or easily customizable?

That said, whatever type of trade show display you choose, the most important thing remains to ensure that it truly reflects your brand and leaves a lasting impression on the trade show attendees.

Trade Show Display Sizes and Layouts

Trade show displays come in various sizes, with the 10’ by 10’, 10’ by 20’, and 20’ by 20’ being the most common and readily available standard sizes. You can always get a custom-sized display, as best matches your needs and budget.

On trade show display layout or configurations, there are three main options from which you can choose

Inland Exhibits

Also known as linear booths, these exhibits are enclosed with only one exposed side where the traffic passes. Inland exhibits located along the perimeter walls of the exhibition hall are known as perimeter booths. In general, no hanging structures are allowed for inland exhibits.

This layout is bold and can really stand out on the exhibition floor. These booths give you plenty of room to work with, and you can use the space to display so much that will help build your brand recognition.

Island Exhibits

These exhibits are exposed to the aisles on all sides. Island exhibits come in two main styles, namely the axis and presenter layouts. Hanging structures are also usually allowed above island exhibits.

Peninsula Exhibits

These types of exhibits have three out of their four sides exposed to an aisle. The other side shares that space with another trade show booth. This shared side is usually left plain, and any graphics used must not include logos or any other branding or advertising elements. Hanging structures are usually permitted for larger peninsula exhibits.

Know Your Options: Types of Trade Show Displays

Each trade show display type has its own set of pros and cons. Understanding what each type has to offer will help you select which one is right for your business.

Portable Trade Show Displays

As the name suggests, these displays are portable, thanks to their characteristic, lightweight construction. These displays have minimal set-up requirements and, as such, are a great choice if you need a quick solution. You can easily and quickly pack up these displays and use them at multiple exhibition locations within a short time.

Portable trade show displays come in various sizes, and many have a large graphic background for your branding. Besides printed graphics, you can customize your portable trade show displays with various accessories, including lighting, shelving, and kiosks.

Another primary advantage of portable trade show displays is that they are low-cost. These displays are, therefore, a great fit for businesses that are working with a lower budget or for first-time exhibitors.

Portable trade show displays come in several styles and designs, with the following being among the most common.

Pop Up Displays

These are easily the most common portable trade show displays. The construction of this type of display involves a collapsible frame that rolls or “pops” open. You can then use connectors to secure graphics onto the frame.

Pop up displays come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They can be flat or curved. You also have several customization options by adding lights, literature sleeves, and other accessories. You can also make your pop-up display more versatile by covering it with a well-fitting fabric graphic that will convert the display into a counter.

Banner Stands

Another prevalent portable trade show display option, banner stands, includes a banner and a frame to hold the banner. The widespread popularity is thanks to the displays being easy to skin with graphics, very portable, and cost-efficient.

Banner stands come in various configurations, including the following.

  • Retractable Banner Stands: The banner rolls neatly into the display’s base unit. This retractability adds to the display’s portability and protects the graphics when the display is in storage and while being transported.
  • Cassette-style Banner Stands: The style is very similar to that of the retractable banner stands. An added feature to this type is that the graphic cassettes can be easily swapped out to display different messages.
  • Fabric Banners and Back Walls: with this type of banner stands, the graphics slip into the display’s aluminum stand. You can slip different graphics into the frame. These trade show displays are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use.
  • L and X Banner Stands: These feature an L and X backing, respectively. Both are very versatile and can be used in both indoor and outdoor settings.
  • Spring Back Banners: The banner unfolds from its case and can stand with the support of a backing spring.
  • Double-sided Banners: these are essentially retractable banners, but with graphics on both sides.

Hanging Structures

These hang from above, much like overhead lights or chandeliers. Hanging trade show displays consist of a hanging aluminum frame and pillowcase graphics in squares, rings, pinwheels, and other shapes. These displays hang up to the ceiling, making them quite eye-catching from all angles.

Table Covers and Runners

Table covers and runners are both tabletop displays. These displays use foldable frames to display graphics attached to the frame with metal fasteners, magnets, or Velcro. The height of tabletops is 2-3 feet high. When put on top of a table, the display’s total height is usually five feet tall.

Tension Fabric Displays

Tension fabric displays are made up of an aluminum pole and frames fitted with fitting fabric graphics. The frame can be collapsible or of the extrusion type. Lighting, monitor mounts, and other accessories can be added to tension fabric displays to add to their functionality.

Panel Displays

Panel displays include a series of interconnected panels joined together to provide a complete freestanding room. This type of display requires on-site construction. These displays come in several designs. Size, ease of set-up, and portability vary across different designs.

Panel displays are used to create a solid-looking back wall to an exhibit booth or used as tabletop displays. That said, these displays are very versatile. You can do so much with panel displays given that panel display systems are a little more structural. They can be used to create large island exhibits that encompass many options, such as product display, backlighting, counters, and bridges.

Modular Trade Show Displays

Modular displays include a series of separate lightweight frames and displays to create an exhibition space. The modular components are designed for flexibility and versatility. You can display a variety of display heights, widths, and lengths. The frames of the modular display are light in weight and offer flexibility in design. They are reusable and reconfigurable. Not only that, but they can also be easily transported and erected on-site. Modular displays cost a little higher than other types of displays but offer better functionality.

Modular trade show displays are available as prefabricated and custom.

  • Prefabricated Modular Displays: These feature standardized, pre-built blocks. These base kits are easy to ship and set up. They come with sturdy aluminum extrusions and different graphic materials and textures. These displays are available in various sizes and designs. You can modify prefabricated modular trade show displays with lights, monitor mounts, and counters.
  • Custom Modular Trade Show Displays: These displays are built to your specifications. Like the prefabricated type, these displays include aluminum extrusions and fabric graphics with the option of accessorizing with lights and other accessory options. Your custom design can be simple or complex, depending on your goals and budget. Intricate custom designs may require professional help for the installation or set-up.

Hybrid Trade Show Displays

Hybrid displays use a combination of panels, metal extrusions, graphics, and a range of accessories such as counters to give that modern look. These displays stand out on any trade show floor thanks to their up-to-date look. These displays provide a cost-efficient alternative to custom exhibits, with some key advantages such as high portability and ease of set-up.

Truss Displays

Truss displays are one of the most versatile trade show displays, offering such a wide range of design options. This type of display includes mounting graphics on the truss structure.

Truss displays are ideal for huge displays, and practically any shape can be made using truss systems. You can have truss powder coated into different colors. Truss can also be made into counters, booths, podiums, and more.

Pipe and Drape Displays

Pipe and drape displays are another popular type of display that simply includes a connected pipe framework with fabric drapes hung on them. The hollow metal tubes are connected at the corner and supported by an upright bass. The pipes connect to form an outline of your booth space, and then the fabric drape is hung along the pipe.

What makes this type of display special is that you can custom print your own drapes and hang graphics onto the back wall and side rails to give a customized look to your exhibit booth

Tents and Canopies

If you are attending a trade show in an open place, outdoor display tents and canopies are the best way to set up your booth. They are easy to set up and enclose a space very well while displaying your graphics and giving your brand better visibility.

These branded shelters are made from structural frames and vinyl fabric printed with custom graphics. They are perfect for outdoor trade shows, allowing you to really stand out while at the same time providing the required protection against the elements.

The Takeaway

Trade show displays have the potential to drive your target audience or visitors to your booth and play a huge role in building your brand image and recognition. All this is possible with the right trade show display.

Therefore, it is important to do some due diligence and be deliberate about your choice of trade show displays. Consider whether you need indoor or outdoor displays, who the trade show attendees will be, the impression you want to leave in their minds, and of course, how much you are willing to spend. You want to make sure that you choose a display that will send your message loud and clear in a professional way.

Get Help

This rundown of the various trade show displays will equip you with the information you need to make the right choice for your company brand. There is no reason why you cannot choose multiple options.

Need information on cost and other details about trade show displays? Not sure which trade show displays would be the best for your brand? Our team of Display Pros experts will be happy to assist. Get in touch with us for professional, friendly customer service and support. We would be happy to provide a free consultation and quote that is under your exhibiting budget.


About Ryan Schortmann

Ryan Schortmann is the Founder and Managing Partner at Display Pros, where he works to help businesses of all sizes make an impact with their customers by providing quality trade show and retail displays at affordable prices. A graduate from New England College, Ryan holds a degree in Business and Computer Science. When not hard at work at various marketing roles, he enjoys cooking, travel, and gaming.

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