Monday, January 24, 2022

Published on Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Going Smaller? Stay Realistic!

20ft Display PropertyOver the years, clients have purchased a lot of 10’ and 20’ inline properties from Prairie. We’ve also updated graphics on these properties, and other systems.


An experienced exhibit/marketing professional will tell you that participating at a trade show in an inline space is very different from exhibiting in islands and peninsulas. The amount of time spent with attendees is usually shorter. Group presentations can be challenging and there is definitely not a lot of room for specialty furniture and seating areas.


Goals are more basic. There is a 3-step process that involves getting the attendee’s attention (eye-stopping graphics, video), engaging them (asking questions, offering a give-away or literature) and finally, qualifying the contact.  There is little time and space for anything more. Maybe a short one-to-one demonstration, but little else.


Island Display PropertyA few years ago, at the beginning of the latest recession, exhibiting companies were scaling back, but show organizers still needed to fill up space. If you contracted for a 10’ x 20’ space, it wasn’t a surprise when you were offered a larger piece of real estate for the same price. Organizers had to fill their shows and they didn’t want the appearance of decreased demand for larger spaces. After all, a full exhibit floor is one sign of a healthy show, right?


Customers were asking how they could take their inline property and use it in an island space. If a budget wasn’t available for a new purchase, we worked with what they had, added some rental properties or put in a table and chairs to take up space.


Islands and peninsulas are great. You can usually go edge to edge at any height. There’s room for seating, semi-private or fully private conference areas, multiple workstations and storage. More involved demonstrations are possible with extra space, and best of all, the attendee is more likely to spend additional time in your booth.


Well the pendulum has swung. The opportunity for cheap island space is gone for many events, and the basic 10’ and 20’ inline is back in play. When exhibitors try to accomplish the same goals and objectives in a space that’s half the size, it can be a real challenge. An inline space is more restrictive, and you’re less likely to have an attendee enter your space, much less get cozy in a leather couch.


SUV CargoA great analogy would be what happened when my wife and I traded in the 7-passenger SUV for a 5-passenger sedan. I no longer needed to carpool kids around to baseball or soccer, or pack portable cribs and camping gear for family trips. I deal with the smaller space by understanding the limitations and plan accordingly.


So if your booth space is downsized, for whatever reason, keep in mind what goals are reasonable and obtainable, and adjust accordingly. Get back to the basics.... grab attention, engage and qualify. You can’t pull a 19’ boat with a Smart Car. Well you can try, but you won’t get very far.


Steve Moskal


Smart Car






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Author: Steve Moskal

Categories: Goals, Inline Displays, Rentals


Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

Other posts by Steve Moskal
Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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