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exhibit design
uying a house and purchasing an exhibit are two very disparate processes. But one commonality they share, which can prove perilous, is floor-plan selection. After all, you can install top-of-the-line wiring and internal systems, incorporate the perfect blend of accoutrements, and apply the ideal design aesthetic. But you'll never garner the results you've intended if you fail to select the right floor plan to suit your exhibiting needs.

Picking the wrong floor plan (aka layout) can impact your program's effectiveness, influencing everything from your brand to your lead count. In fact, according to Erick Gustafson, senior exhibit designer at RES Exhibit Services LLC, "Since the layout often impacts everything else in your booth to one degree or another, layout selection is potentially more important than the graphics, messaging, and products on display."

Giles Rickett, creative and marketing director at Pinnacle Exhibits, concurs. "The layout can impact how many attendees enter your space, where they go, what messages they see, and how long they remain in the booth."

What's more, layouts offer as much variation as mobile calling plans. So choosing between a fortress-style floor plan and a centerpiece layout, for example, is a shot in the dark without at least a bare-bones understanding of what each option has to offer. Matt Hill, president of The Hill Group, also asserts that this lack of knowledge keeps some exhibitors stuck in a rut with the same exhibit floor plan year after year.

Granted, some people might argue that exhibit designers, not exhibit managers, should be responsible for floor-plan selection. But Tony Castrigno, owner and designer at Design Contact, says that's not always the case. "Relying on your designer to select the layout doesn't ensure a successful outcome," he says. "Come to the design table armed with a general understanding of the most common layouts."

To help you understand the six most common floor plans, EXHIBITOR enlisted the help of Castrigno, Hill, Gustafson, and Rickett, along with Jeff Janes, creative director for Global Experience Specialists Inc.'s Minneapolis office, and Todd Schwartz, design engineer and estimating manager for Steelhead Productions.

The team not only expounded on the pros and cons of each layout but also offered key points of comparison regarding access, messaging, and traffic. And while the group agreed that these six layouts are the blueprints for almost all exhibit designs, they caution that variables exist within each, and you can (and should) change each layout's components, size, and position to fit your needs.







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