Exhibit Design Search / Trade Show and Event Tips / Design, Lighting, and Graphics Tips /

Selecting a Trade Show Exhibit Designer

Selecting an Exhibit Designer

  • Be specific about your trade show objectives and expectations
  • Familiarize the designer with the company’s history and the industry
  • Be aware of your budget – It dictates the structure and components

When presenting at a trade show, your booth functions as a three-dimensional representation of your company’s image. Hiring an exhibit designer or producer can make the difference between an amateur looking exhibit and a professional one that commands respect and attention. While many do-it-yourself exhibits are well done, many more have a slipshod appearance.

What Do You Want to Accomplish

If you decide to work with a designer, it is essential that you have a well thought out concept of what you wish to accomplish with your booth. Be precise when explaining your objectives and expectations. The more specific you are with your designer, the better off you will be in the long run. On the other hand, you don’t want to be so wedded to certain concepts that you are not open to suggestions. Your designer brings knowledge and experience to the table and may come up with possibilities that you had not considered.

When choosing a designer, it is a good idea to conduct informational interviews with business associates who have exhibited at trade shows. Ask them about designers or production companies they have worked with in the past. A wide range of choices exists among design and production companies. There are full service companies that can handle the entire development and execution of your booth, from the design stage to production. These companies can assist you with shipping, storage, set-up and take-down, promotional literature, staffing, and virtually anything else you can think of. Other more economical options include exhibit builders who are responsible only for design and production, as well as companies that market pre-manufactured booth components.

Always ask for references and to see samples of previous work. Be certain they understand the nature of both your company and industry. Familiarize your designer with your company’s history, as well as with previous marketing efforts. Provide them with samples of promotional literature and any other marketing materials that are available. Let them know what products or services you wish to promote through your booth.

Be Aware of Your Budget

Be aware of your budget. While budget does not preclude good design, it will dictate the type and quantity of the structural components in your booth. Your designer should be acutely aware of your budget while generating an exciting design tailored to showcase your company.

Successful design starts with details about your company and your exhibiting goals. Expect your designer to request the following information:

Exhibit Information

  • Design due date
  • Show opening date
  • What size is the exhibit(s)?
  • What is the budget for the exhibit excluding graphics?
  • If you exhibited previously, what type of display did you use?
  • Are you looking for something similar or different?
  • Are there any unusual dimensional restrictions?
  • Can you supply artwork or logos for the rendering?


Tell the designer about any special requests, such as workstations, counters, slatwall, conference area, etc.? Do you display lots of product? Do you hate wood laminates and/or mulberry red (or any other color)? Tell the designer what's in your vision so he or she can design the display that meets your every need.

Remember, your designer is your bridge between visualization and successful realization. By partnering with your designer, you can be sure your booth property will exceed your expectations as well as your customers.

Contact Us

For more information about trade show or event marketing, give us a call or Contact Us. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your next show.

Article Author:

Mel White, CEI

Add designs and photos to your personal gallery simply by clicking on the +My Gallery links

Then email your "My Gallery" to colleagues, friends, or your favorite exhibit designer. There's no better way to begin designing a display that reflects your exhibit marketing goals.

Note: My Gallery uses a temporary browser cookie to store your gallery. We recommend that you send your gallery to your email address if you need to retain it for longer than 30 days.

  • Suggested lead times may vary depending on current orders. Please check with Customer Service.
  • Production lead times are based on business days and DO NOT include any shipping days.
  • Production-ready artwork (when applicable) must accompany the order confirmation. Delays in uploading artwork may lead to expedited charges or shipping changes.
  • No order will be released to Production without a signed order confirmation.
  • Shipping is based on the availability of materials and graphics. Additional charges may apply if materials or graphics must be expedited.
  • Standard lead times do not apply to orders of multiple quantities.
Exhibit Weight varies depending on the packaging and the shipping method. Variables include but are not limited to:
  • Dimensional Weight vs. Actual Weight: Dimensional weight is defined as crate or case size. On most air shipments, the dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight
  • Portable Cases vs. Wood Crates or Molded Tubs (where applicable): Exhibit designs that require one wood crate would require multiple portable cases. Selecting one vs. the other affects the total weight (dimensional or actual).
  • Freight Carrier: LTL carriers (Less than Truckload) quote freight based on space used. UPS, FedEx, and air freight carriers quote freight based on either the dimensional or the actual weight of the shipment.
  • Freight Service Level (number of days): Service levels range from Same Day Delivery to Two Week Delivery.
For more information about exhibit weights and freight options, please contact your local exhibit representative.
Electrical, Cord, and Wire Management varies depending on the display and each exhibitor's requirements. When ordering your trade show display, consider the following electrical/wire management issues and discuss your options with an exhibit professional:
  • Inline vs. Island Displays
  • Lead Retrieval Devices
  • Computer and Monitor Cables
  • Demo Equipment
  • Overhead Lighting
  • Grommets and Grommet Placement in Counters
  • Overhead vs. Floor Power Supply
  • Flooring and Electrical Wiring
  • Options for Hiding Cords and Cables
  • Flat vs. Round Electrical Cords
  • Multi-Plug Outlets and Extension Cords
By reviewing your wiring options BEFORE you order your display, you'll save TIME and MONEY and ensure your exhibit exceeds your expectations and your installation is trouble-free.