You know it when you see it: the uninspired trade show booth.

old_spongebob_vs__new_spongebob_by_rabidragdoll-d4lefsc-1The trick, of course, is recognizing the same tired qualities in your own trade show booth so that you know when the time is right to make some changes in your strategy. Keep in mind that the changes in trade show booth designs don’t have to be extensive; sometimes even minor tweaks can reinvigorate your old, tired trade show presence.

If you find that you can’t be objective about your trade show booth, ask a colleague or an unbiased third party to help you. Walk him or her through it, from your greeting to your send-off. Deliver your pitch. Ask him or her to give your booth “the full 360” audit. Then ask for an assessment of key details regarding trade show booth designs that might be saddling you with the uninspiring, boring label. Hers a few that may surface:

  • olddisplay-017897-editedWorn out or damaged display cases, frames, counters and tables (which will look decidedly shabby individually and collectively).
  • Carpeting or flooring that is in disrepair (or worse, poses a safety hazard to trade show attendants)
  • Banners that are patched together, stained or faded (fine as a response to an emergency but amateurish under normal conditions).
  • Outdated technology (which will tag your company as outdated, too).
  • Of course, if your finding more and more things not operating properly, falling apart, or leaving you in a bind your booth has seen better days. Time for a change…

Although there are no hard and fast rules about how often a trade show booth should be retooled, if your company has been rolling out the same product for three years, it’s probably time to freshen things up. Confirm your hunch by evaluating a few key indicators:


  • A drop in traffic or attendees spending less time in your booth (and there’s always those that don’t hesitate to make faces and comment negatively
  • A noticeable decrease in enthusiasm among your booth staff, who should be your very best ambassadors.
  • Frustration with booth builders, union workers and booth designers.

The first point might be much more obvious, but don’t underestimate the influence of the second. In other words, if your trade show booth looks tired and uninspiring, the people behind it are bound to feel hard-pressed to compensate for it.

It’s a well-known tenet on the trade show circuit that you don’t need the biggest, most expensive booth with a top-paid celebrity to enjoy success at a trade show. But recognizing the signs of a dated trade show booth – and then setting out to choose some new trade show booth designs – could very well mean the difference between an uninspiring and inspiring outcome (and of course a big ROI).