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July 18, 2018

5 Ways Trade Shows Are Like Shopping Malls


When I first started working in the trade show world, I was in my twenties. I had never been on the show floor before. I was out of my element when I walked my first show. I kept thinking, “How am I ever going to learn the ins and outs of this complex industry?” Then a light bulb went off. Trade shows have a lot in common with shopping malls. And luckily for me, I’m a shopping mall pro!  

1. Think of your booth as a store. The attendees are the shoppers, and booth staffers are store associates. Booth staffers have a very important role at trade shows. They welcome attendees into your exhibit and educate them about your company’s products and services in hopes of making a sale now or in the future. 

2. Pick your space to get maximum traffic. Think of the exhibit hall floor plan as a mall layout. As an exhibitor you want to position yourself where you will get the most traffic. This is typically in the main aisles or near, but not next to, larger and industry-leading exhibits. In the mall you have your anchor stores, the big-name department stores shoppers seek out. If you’re not one of the big guys, you want to benefit from their traffic draw. 

3. Create a comfortable environment to attract people into your space. Have you ever walked by a store and there was something that made you not want to go in? Maybe the store was too crowded with product or the lighting was poor. Make your exhibit inviting with open space and good lighting. Use your exhibit structure and graphics not only for messaging, but also to connect with attendees and invite them in. In a small booth, creating a comfortable space is more important since you typically have only a few seconds to convince an attendee to stop at your exhibit.

4. Make your booth easy to navigate. When designing your exhibit, make sure the layout works for your projected traffic flow, conversations, and key messaging takeaways. Just like in a store, if it’s hard for shoppers to find what they are looking for or the layout is confusing, they’ll leave and shop elsewhere. 

5. Make sure attendees know what you offer. Have you ever looked at a store window or name and couldn’t figure out what they are selling? When this happens, the typical response is to keep walking. Your message should be clear as attendees will decide in seconds if your company deserves their time.

Can you think of any other similarities? Let us know in the comments below. 

Do you need help navigating your trade show program? Contact me for a knowledgeable assessment of your current program.  

Jackie F. Biggs, Senior Account Executive
jfb@ttskyline.com| 630.376.1031
Jackie F. Biggs is a 20-plus year veteran in the trade show industry. She started her career in marketing prior to moving into sales. Her goal is to provide any industry resource, support, and education her clients need to create a successful trade show program. Jackie prides herself on being a dedicated and reliable partner her clients can turn to for whatever they need and make it happen. She views herself as a part of her client’s team, and is committed to making each show a success. Her ability to put her clients at ease and build trusted relationships comes from her core values to always be honest, open, and transparent no matter the situation.

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.