Companies who are attending a trade show or exhibiting at another venue have a number of important decisions to make regarding the design of their exhibition stands. However, one of the most crucial revolves around the layout of the stand itself and the way in which passersby are able to gain access to the booth.
In many cases, the exact layout will depend on the floor space you have been allocated. For example, the most common type of stand is a row stand, or wall stand, which is accessible from the hall aisle, has three walls, and is adjoined on three sides by neighbouring stands. Alternatively, if the space you have been allocated is on the end of a row, you might instead opt for a corner stand, which is open on two sides and has two walls.
With that said, one interesting trend that has emerged in recent times is the use of open exhibition stand designs; especially by companies who want to make a big impact. In the past, open designs have sometimes been criticised for being difficult to manage and for the lack of wall space, so why have they grown in popularity?
Benefit 1: Easy Access
Perhaps the most obvious reason why companies opt for open exhibition stand designs is the ease of access, which makes them more attractive for attendees. While a stand that is only open on one side may cause a queue to form, or result in people’s view of certain parts of the display is blocked, open designs are accessible from all sides.
This means that visitors are able to walk through the display and look at the products or displays in their own time. Of course, some of the key challenges to this type of stand design include having enough staff and making sure those you have been attentive enough to cross from one side of the display to another to meet the needs of visitors.
“Island stands can be very effective in delivering footfall,” says Richard Edwards, the director of exhibition specialists Quatreus, writing for Marketing Donut.
“However, you will need to anticipate the main entry point so you can angle branding and other features to greet new visitors.”
Benefit 2: Standing Out
Another big reason why open exhibition stand designs have increased in popularity recently is that they allow exhibitors to stand out from the crowd. Rather than having a stand up against a wall, open exhibitions are located somewhere in the middle of the trade show floor, which naturally sparks the curiosity of visitors.
Indeed, many exhibition companies recommend open stand designs for companies with a high profile, or those who are hoping to make an especially big impact at a specific show, precisely because they indicate a level of prestige.
“A peninsula stand is a true eye-catcher and a means to show you are an A-brand and/or market leader,” say Enigma Visual Solutions, a company who offers a range of different exhibition services. Nonetheless, they point out that this type of high-level branding can come at a high price when compared to more traditional stand designs.
Benefit 3: Custom Designs
Finally, open exhibitions allow companies to unlock a huge range of possibilities when it comes to the actual design of the stand. As a result, they are a fantastic option for those businesses who are willing and able to spend a little bit extra on creating a jaw-dropping, custom-built display.
Where the lack of walls was once seen as a limitation of island-type displays, it is now more often being seen as an opportunity by designers and brands who have flipped the concept into a USP at their shows. The sheer amount of floor space, combined with the possibility of using free-standing presentation furniture in exciting and creative ways, can often lead to stunning designs, which attract even more attention.
It is worth noting, however, that there are logistical issues to overcome when opting for unique, open designs. For example, a custom stand tends to take longer to build, meaning you will need to give your design company more notice, and they may also require more help to set up, which can mean added costs and extra work.
Benefit 4: Branding
Finally, standing out from the crowd with a central open exhibition stand design will allow the company to accentuate certain brand values in a way that more traditional designs would not be able to achieve. An open design sends a clear message of a company that is keen to be different. It also reaffirms the brand as ‘open’ and welcoming to all. It shows a willingness to go the extra mile and breaking down barriers. These attributes can be strengthened by the clever use of graphics and brand messages within the stand design so that layout and branding reinforce each other for maximum impact.
Anybody who attends exhibitions in a competitive sector will understand that this type of in-built design-led message is very powerful in a busy exhibition hall where people’s attention can get ‘saturated’ within the first hour of their visit.
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About the author
Reno is a founder and director of the UK-based exhibition company Enigma Visual Solutions, specialising in exhibition services, retail designs, graphic productions, signage systems, modular exhibition stand designs, event branding, conference set design, and much more. He specialises in experiential marketing and event productions. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on upcoming marketing ideas and design trends. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.