Cottage & Lakefront Living Show - Detroit

February 20-23, 2025

Booth Design Tips

Once you’ve purchased your space in the show, what you do with that space is key to making sure your time at the show is well spent and profitable. Here are some tips to laying out your space!

The 3-Second Rule

Visitors should be able to tell 3 things within 3 seconds of seeing your booth:


  2. What it is YOU DO

  3. At least ONE BENEFIT of your product or working with your company.

Developed by Don Engebretson, Exhibitor Training Expert

10 Easy Ways to a Better Exhibit:

  • Sell benefits, not just your products/services

  • Sell your company, too

  • Have a professional, attractive sign

  • Select the proper setting for your product

  • Don’t barricade your exhibit

  • Build, buy or rent a backdrop

  • Carpet/floor your exhibit

  • Have some greenery in your exhibit

  • Involve visitors in your exhibit/product

  • Create a closing area, if useful

Booth Examples:

The Bad:

Spending the minimal amount of effort on creating your booth reflects poorly on your business and makes visitors think you’ll put that same effort into the service you provide.

  • A Banner can be a great tool to communicate your company’s name and mission, if people can read it.

  • Flooring is important to making your booth look professional, but do more than just a cheap piece of fraying carpet.

  • Furnishings give visitors a place to sit or lean while they talk, but an uncovered fold-up table makes you look like a garage sale.

  • Barricading your booth keeps people in the aisle and make them feel like they have to keep moving.

  • Prize Giveaways are a great way to attract attention, but giving away something unrelated to your business is the equivalent of email spam. A giveaway related to your services will help you build a qualified prospect database.

  • Be a good neighbor. If you’re going to build a wall between you and your neighbor, make sure all visible parts are finished, especially those facing your neighbors – not just those in your own booth.

The Good:

Creating a professional, interesting and quality booth doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a little bit of planning and the right use of space, you can design a space that SELLS.

  • Signage is key – create a primary sign that states who you are, and maybe your slogan or 1-3 services you provide.

    1. Photos can have great impact, but less is more and bigger is better.

    2. Flooring can be rented from the building (carpet) or you can use your own rugs, carpeting or laminate flooring, just make sure it is not so thick that it creates a trip hazard for those entering your booth.

    3. Furnishings should have a small footprint, if you’re not actually selling the furniture. Create a sales/conversation space with a tall cocktail table and stool.

    4. Open concept isn’t just a trend in home layouts – it’s true for your booth as well. Get visitors out of the aisle and into your space.

The Bad:

Creating an open and inviting space should also include some thought to how the patron will interact with it.

  • Again, a banner can be a great tool to communicate your company’s name and mission, just make sure you secure it properly to make it look professional. Bring small bungee cords to pull your banner taut.

  • Low signage is wasted signage. Get materials up high on easels or on top of tables, especially when including something a visitor would have to scan with their phone.

  • Sitting down is necessary during long show hours, but only use it to take breaks if possible. When you’re engaged in conversation, stand to talk to your customers!

  • Poorly cut flooring can create a trip hazard. While it’s not possible to get floor coverings to meet the aisle carpet exactly, it should never go outside your booth, nor should it create a large gap, especially when your flooring is thick and creates a trip hazard. Plan your flooring to be a few inches shy of the edge of each 10’x10′ booth.

The Good:

Additional small details can have a big impact.

  • Credentials, like an HBA Membership sign, can give credibility to your business.

  • Plants can literally make your booth feel more alive – just don’t forget to water them!

  • Additional Lighting can highlight areas of the booth or signage and catch the eye of potential clients.

  • Stand and smile! Your demeanor within your booth is your greatest asset. Sitting in the back of your booth, staring at your phone like a teenager is a guarantee you’ll have a bad show! Dress appropriately to your business, stand as much as you can and smile. Be ready to talk and visitors will talk to you. As much as possible schedule your staff in your booth so everyone stays rested and happy!