yep, this deserves a whole post dedicated to it. the booth is the physical manifestation of your business -- it represents what you're all about, blah blah blah. true, the booth is very very important -- but in my humble opinion, it is secondary to what really matters....your product. the number one thing to understand about the booth in our opinion is that you want to attract people who are within viewing distance in to take a look at your products.
in our minds, there are several factors to performing successfully in this task:
location, location location: no, we're not talking homes here, we're talking prime locations within the Javits. take a look at the exits, entrances, things around you. do you want to be by the women's bathroom (where there's almost always a line, but is a weird weird space to be in our opinion), or by the back where people take their breaks / and where the "new product display" resided this past year (we did not approve of this new move)?
there's a bit of strategy to consider here. we've seen many companies just take what they are given without knowing the layout, and get stuck in the boonies with very little foot traffic, or are thrown in somehow among some weird products. take a look at the companies around you-- it's hard when there are big names right next to you, as people sometimes bypass your booth to see what all the commotion is about. people who generate a lot of traffic directly across from you sometimes steal attention as well, as people who walk through your aisle look in the wrong direction when passing your booth -- rendering you...invisible. what works best are similar demographic companies with widely differing senses of style. these companies, when placed near one another, tend to help each other out in terms of traffic.
one thing people also don't know is that there is a big difference in atmosphere from the front to the back, from the middle to the sides. first of all, aisles 1100 or lower are under the lower ceiling area, so this gives a company a cozier/busier/more intimate feel. now why wouldn't you want this? first of all, the booths are generally smaller -- i think 6x10s and 8x10s. second, there are tons and tons of companies packed in such a small space, so you can get lost pretty easily. some of our friends love that area, and it makes especially good sense for exhibitors who come to the show by themselves, as they can make friends easily here and have neighbors watch the booth on short breaks. this results in the third reason it may not be so hot -- since a lot of the people who exhibit in this area like it, they tend to keep their spots, so the primary locations here are all but taken.
corner booth, 6x10, 8x10, 10x10, double, triple, etc?
corner booths get a lot more exposure, and usually more traffic at the cost of a more expensive booth fee, as well as the loss of a wall for any kind of display. we used our walls to display our line, so corner booths were not an option. next year, we're contemplating a switch to the corner. it just feels better, and is more inviting.
the smaller booths are also located in the lower numbers, with bigger booths in the higher numbers, unless you purchase multiple booths. needless to say, bigger = costlier. it all depends on how big your company and its range of products is, and how much you can afford.
hard walls, drapes, or use their drapes but hide them?
i'm not sure why the javits even bothers including those nasty drapes with your booth purchase. with the money we pay to get a space, all of the dividers could have been made with hard particle board or some other cheap material, and everyone would have been ecstatic to get a "hard wall." at least it would be more functional that way-- you can't hang anything off those drapes -- and they are ugly... maybe it's because they want to be able to charge us over $1000 for foam core walls to be installed? seriously? for temporary walls? you can't even save it afterwards. while we think it's a rip-off, a lot of people still get them because otherwise, you're stuck with those drapes.
another option is to make your own walls-- if you live within driving distance, or you are simply loaded with cash, and you or someone you know or can hire has a penchant for woodworking, you could make your own walls and keep em! this is a great option (and you can get really creative here), but then you have the problem of where to store them afterwards.
yet another option, purchase and make your own drapes (this is what we did). the main reason we decided to go this route was because of the cost of the foam core walls, and also the distance we had to travel to get to this show. we needed something portable, something that could collapse so we could store and ship easily. if you get the right material, you can sew in some anchors and use zip ties to stretch your fabric into a nice, solid surface that mimics hard walls. just bring along some downy wrinkle release (to get rid of the wrinkles from shipping), and you're golden. make sure, however, that the material you get is fire retardant, or is treated with a fire retardant, because the javits has regulations to uphold.
you can't, however, just purchase drapes and throw them on. you need to be able to do simple measuring, cutting and sewing to make nice edges and reinforced holes (if you want to stretch or just be able to hang the fabric). the javits center provides hooks (all you can carry) that you can use to hang them up.
you could also hide these walls with furniture and storage/display systems, but in the end, where are you going to put your logo, and your booth number? things to consider. you gotta deal with those drapes somehow.
electricity, lights, plug or column in your booth
these things all need to be purchased. the center gives you an outlet, but no lights. you can buy a spotlight or a set of lights you can hang on your wall posts, but otherwise, you're on your own. you can only use up to 400W in lights, so basically four 100W light bulbs max. we bought some clamp lights from home depot, with four 100 W bulbs (remember to bring extra). these worked well enough for us, and was cost effective/easy to transport.
make sure you don't get a column in your booth (this severely detracts from your booth setup/plans) -- unless you plan on incorporating this column into your design somehow (a display system?). some people get caught with this thing -- see if you can request a different location. also, there is always this big block someone gets stuck with in their booth (for some reason it's always us) that has everyone's main power cord plugged into it. we suspect people around us get there really early the first day, so they can pass this little "gem" onto some other adjacent booth. it's not a huge deal, but it can get bulky and unsightly. hopefully, you have enough space in between booths to stash it.
flooring, byof (bring your own floors)
they give you nothing here, and if you order through them, it's pretty expensive (not to mention the color choices are pretty eye-jarring). you can get a carpet roll from home depot (some are pretty cheap, but of course thin), or order from a company like flor and get them in tiles. other options include those cushiony foam tiles which interlock, and you can even get those in a wood grain design -- so it looks like you have hardwood floors. these can all get pretty pricey, but people in general appreciate the feeling of cushioned floors, especially having walked around in a huge convention center all day. again, up to how much you wanna spend. we just went with the carpet roll from home depot, and provided chairs for our visitors.
for booth ideas, here are some examples from the show website.
for booth ideas, here are some examples from the show website.