‹ Back to Kalahari Meetings / Your Meeting Success Blog / Eliminate Headaches When Assigning Trade Show Booth Space

Eliminate Headaches When Assigning Trade Show Booth Space


Best practices for creating success for vendors and attendees

From small exhibit spaces to massive show floors, assigning booth space can be a headache for event organizers without a system in place that’s fair, easy to understand and well communicated.

There are two primary ways to allocate booth space: assignment by the organizer and selection by exhibitors. Understand your options and when to choose each method to keep event exhibitors, attendees and organizers happy.


Option 1: Booth Assignment

How does it work? Simply stated, this method puts the trade show location assignment solely in the hands of the organizer. A planner may allow exhibitors to make general requests, but this method ultimately gives omnipotent power to a trade show manager.

When does it work best? Especially with smaller trade shows or ones planned with shorter lead times, it may be necessary to streamline the process and assign locations to all vendors.

Tips for success? Meeting planners choosing this method must personally dedicate the time to setting a strategy and assigning booth locations. They also must be transparent and make the process and assignment criteria known ahead of time by putting a notice on the event website and include it in all marketing material.


Option 2: Booth Selection

How does it work? A more common option is letting exhibitors select their location on the trade show floor. This can be done through a random lottery or by assigning dates and times for self-selection. It can even be coordinated on-site during the event to encourage exhibitor pre-registration for the following year.

When does it work best? There are several ways to determine who gets priority—and again, it should be clearly stated to exhibitors how the process will be handled. No exhibitor wants to be stuck in the back corner or behind an obstructed view. Most want to be near the front door, near food stations or close to spots likely to get more foot traffic. Set priorities and qualifications to create order to the selection process:

  • Booth size. It makes sense to reward vendors who are investing more money to exhibit. One way to prioritize is to give first dibs to those investing in the biggest space.

  • Number of years exhibiting. Planners of longstanding trade shows will also have to take longevity into account. An organization can create a point system that weighs both booth size and number of exhibition years into account when assigning dates and times to register for space.

  • Right of first refusal. If all factors are relatively equal in booth size and longevity, exhibitors may get a right of first refusal. That is, they can be allowed to rebook the same general location and booth size. After that, spots can be allocated to exhibitors with less tenure who want to move, and then to new exhibitors.

  • Ties to the organizers. Event sponsors may be granted a higher priority in picking booth space. So, too, can exhibitors who have contributed as committee members or served on the board of directors to the organizing company or association.

Tips for success? Make sure the venue fits the event scope and size and has the flexibility in its event space. Convention halls are often geared to accommodate both large and small trade shows and are built with flexible space so even small shows can benefit from being in a professional setting. The location should also be ideal for your target market. It ought to be centrally located, offer access to accommodations and have plenty of restaurant and entertainment options nearby.


Kalahari is the perfect setting for trade shows

Our team can assist planners in creating trade shows that benefit vendors and attendees. And, we’ve just doubled the size of our convention center in Wisconsin. Expansions are also in progress at our properties in Pennsylvania (Pocono Mountains, late 2019) and Texas (Round Rock, November 2020). Call our sales team at 855.411.4605 to schedule your site visit today.