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August 02, 2016

Trade Show Floor Plans: Open vs. Controlled

Chris Ybarra, Creative Director

Your exhibit floor plan is one of the biggest factors that will affect an attendee’s experience at a trade show. There are many aspects to consider. Do you want a self-guided or guided experience? Do you want a casual, relaxed or VIP exclusivity atmosphere? While there are rules and principals for exhibit space layout, not one layout is set in stone and sometimes rules are made to be broken.

We often hear questions about two very contrasting layouts; open vs. controlled.

Open Floor Plan

Open floor plans are some of the most common requests we receive. Clean lines and free flowing traffic are attractive to many exhibitors. An open floor plan allows attendees to peruse around the edge of your space and see what’s going on inside without making any major commitment to enter.

Often, open floor plans include a central structure that serves as a focal point. This focal point is not necessarily directly in the middle of the booth, however, it is well defined. With a well-defined focal point, exhibitors have the option to take advantage of the open corners or edges of the exhibit. These areas work well to give equal importance to various products or divisions within a company to attract attendees. Once attendees are interested, a well-trained booth staffer can engage with them and entice them to spend a few moments learning about your company and offerings. With the open plan layout, every attendee’s experience is unique to their specific needs.

Controlled Floor Plan

What if you want to control traffic and the attendee experience? Well, there’s a layout for that! Let me introduce you to what is often referred to as the “Fortress.” This layout typically consists of large walls that surround the space limiting entry to only a few very controlled points. The walls can be solid and covered in graphics or translucent layers to allow attendees to view what is going on inside. The Fortress layout is used in multiple ways, but the two most common are to create a VIP experience or to protect new products and proprietary designs that need to be shielded from a vast majority of the attendees and competitors. Either way, the Fortress layout generates curiosity from passing attendees.

Unlike the open floor plan, a closed-off space requires an attendee to make a complete commitment to step inside. A well thought-out and executed pre-show marketing plan is key to get prospects into your exhibit. With the Fortress, you’ve exposed yourself to a very targeted audience and should give them incentive to step inside. Once inside, you have complete control over the experience from where they walk and what they see, to who they talk to. While this type of layout has its benefits, it also demands dedication. VIP experiences need to be well thought-out and highly engaging to create a memorable experience.

Choosing how your upcoming trade show exhibit will be organized and laid out is no easy task. The options are endless. Whichever layout you choose, it should align directly with your goals and objectives. Work hand in hand with your exhibit house to clearly define your goals and the experience you want the attendees and your prospects to have. Expert exhibit designers want to create a design that is visually stunning, while incorporating strategic functionality for traffic flow and engagement. A successful show that meets all your goals and objectives is a win for everyone!

About TradeTec:

Founded in Chicago in 1999, Skyline TradeTec produces innovative trade show exhibits with unmatched customer service and a promise of NO POST SHOW BILLING™ for clients. As an endorsed provider of Skyline products, TradeTec offers the highest quality modular exhibits and portable displays, as well as custom and hybrid solutions. Skyline TradeTec has 6 locations in 5 states, has served over 6,000 clients, and has completed over 50,000 projects worldwide. Learn more about TradeTec at SkylineTradeTec.com.