Different Types of Trade Show Displays

Different Trade Show Displays

Whether you’re presenting with a smaller portable trade show display or a larger custom modular trade show display, your trade show display is one of the most powerful visual tools since it conveys a company’s brand, products, and personality. There are a number of different types of trade show displays that vary in terms of layout, style, and functionality. This article will help you select the ideal type of trade show display to achieve your marketing objectives.

Selecting the Right Type of Trade Show Display

There are many different displays available today from which you can choose to showcase your business. Selecting the right display for your business depends on a number of factors: budget, goals, and needs. No matter which type of trade show display you end up selecting, you need to keep the following tips in mind.

Different Trade Show Displays Branding


A well-crafted trade show display should convey your brand, so make sure your display keeps true to your company brand standards, colors, imagery, and logos.


The best trade show displays encourage visitors to learn more about the company and often make an indelible impression, so design your display with impact in mind.

Trade Show Display Sizes and Layouts

Different Trade Show Displays Sizes Layouts

Trade show displays come in an array of dimensions. The standard sizes are 10′ x 10′, 10′ x 20′ and 20′ x 20′. There are also a number of different trade show display layouts from which you can choose: island, inline, and peninsula.

A 10′ x 10′ booth is the most common and readily available size for most trade shows and events.

Island Trade Show Displays

Different Trade Show Displays Island Display

Island trade show displays are typically 20′ x 20′ or larger and are exposed to the surrounding aisles on all sides. You can usually incorporate a hanging structure of some sort with an island trade show display within the height limitations that normally range between 20′ to 30′ from the ground.

There are two common island trade show display styles: axis and presenter.

Axis Layout

This layout utilizes a centralized structure as an axis point for the exhibit, with independent structural elements positioned near the corners and perimeters of the display. The openness of this layout allows for traffic to naturally flow in and out of the space, which reduces clutter and traffic build-up.

Presenter Layout

This layout features a theater and additional supporting display elements. If you’re looking to engage, communicate, and employ storytelling at your trade show display, you should seriously consider the presenter layout.

Inline Trade Show Displays

Different Trade Show Displays Inline Display

An inline trade show booth, also known as a linear display, adjoins one or more associate exhibits on its flanks or back. In most cases, inline trade show displays are 10′ x 10′ or 10′ x 20′ with a max back wall height of 8′. A “perimeter booth” typically refers to an inline trade show display located along the outside wall of the event floor.

A major benefit of inline displays is that you can reconfigure them into multiple footprint sizes – typically 10′ x 10′ and 10′ x 20′ booth sizes. This allows multi-event exhibitors to scale an inline trade show display up or down based on the requirements of each trade show. In most cases, hanging structures are not allowed with inline trade show displays.

Peninsula Trade Show Displays

Different Trade Show Displays Peninsula Display

Peninsula trade show displays share one side with another booth and three of the four sides are exposed to an aisle. For most events, the shared side graphic must be plain and can not feature logos, branding, or advertising.

The standard size for a peninsula booth is 10′ x 20′ or larger. Hanging structures are usually allowed when a peninsula display is 20′ x 20′ or larger.

Portable Trade Show Displays

Portable trade show displays are often a faster and more budget-friendly option that is ideal for first-time exhibitors. Furthermore, portable trade show displays are great for exhibitors in need of a quick solution and for businesses working with a limited trade show budget.

While portable displays are a lower-cost option, they can rival the impact of a fully custom trade show display. Most portable trade show displays feature large graphic backgrounds, which provide ample opportunities for effective branding.

Portable displays are easier to set up and require less assembly compared to modular or custom trade show displays. Furthermore, portable trade show displays are made from lightweight materials. They’re available in a wide range of sizes (8′, 10′, 20′ and tabletop). You can customize portable trade show displays with custom printed graphics. You cal also expand your display with an array of accessories such as kiosks, counters, lighting, and more.

The lightweight construction and portability of these displays make for easy shipping. Furthermore, they’re also easy to set up at multiple shows in a short period of time. While lightweight, portable displays are designed to withstand multiple uses when cared for properly. Here are a handful of the more popular portable trade show display elements.

Banner Stands

Trade Show Displays Banner Stands Coffee Shop

Banner stands are one of the most widely used and versatile trade show display elements. They are a frequent choice among trade show professionals looking for cost-effective display signage. Furthermore, banner stands are very portable and easy to skin with custom graphics. They really are an ideal solution for businesses that want attendees to instantly recognize their brand.

Retractable Banner Stands

Retractable banner stands neatly roll up into the base station in order to safeguard graphics during transportation and storage. The retractability of these stands that operate as banner displays provides additional portability for users.

Cassette-Style Banner Stands

Cassette-style banner stands are similar to retractable banner stand in terms of both style and function. However, there is one key difference. Cassette-style banner stands feature interchangeable graphic cassettes that you can swap out to change your messaging from show to show.

Fabric Banners

You can use these high-quality banners for both indoor and outdoor events. Fabric banners utilize push-fit fabric graphics that slip onto an aluminum frame for easy setup. These banners also provide exhibitors with the opportunity to skin the frame with different graphics.

Table Covers & Runners

Buzz Impressions Trade Show Table Cover

Table covers and runners are hallmarks of the trade show and convention world. They offer a stylish solution and increased branding opportunities for exhibitors with tabletop displays. Table covers and runners feature logos printed on washable polyester using a dye sublimation print method. Table covers and runners are printed blank or with custom graphics. It all depends on the exhibitor’s needs.

Hanging Structures

Hanging structures are aluminum framed hanging displays with pillowcase graphics and come in a variety of shapes – rings, squares, shields, pinwheels, etc. Haning structures help exhibitors showcase their brand presence at an event from all angles with unique, eye-catching flair.

Tension Fabric Displays

Tension fabric backdrops utilize aluminum poles, extrusion, or fold-able frames with close-fitting fabric graphics to create scenic images. Depending on the frame, the graphics for a tension fabric display push past the frame like a pillowcase, slip into extrusion channels, or are applied directly to the frame with Velcro. To increase functionality, you can add accessories such as lighting, shelving, and monitor mounts to tension fabric displays.

Pop-Up Displays

Buzz Impressions

Pop-up displays are used primarily as backdrops to showcase brand messages and product offerings. These displays employ a collapsible, accordion-style frame that “pops” open, creating an instant frame ready for customization with vibrant graphics.

You can further enhance pop-up displays with lights, monitor mounts, and literature sleeves. You can easily convert pop-up display cases into counters by covering them with a fitted fabric graphic, which further adds to the versatility of the display.

Outdoor Displays

Outdoor displays provide exhibitors with a rock-solid display for outdoor use. These displays are the perfect solution for outdoor events during the spring and summer months. You should avoid using these displays in adverse weather conditions and make sure that they’re properly staked and weighted down in windy conditions.

Outdoor Tents

The water-resistant polyester canopies of outdoor tents provide exhibitors with a professional display to showcase brand messaging and imagery. They also provide booth staffers and visitors with shelter from sunlight and light rain.

Outdoor Flags

Buzz Impressions Outdoor Flag

Outdoor flags are colorful, inexpensive, and portable, making them the perfect solution for exhibitors looking to advertise their presence outdoors. Unlike static signs, outdoor flags capture the wind and move.

Outdoor Banners

Outdoor banners are lightweight, portable, and can be easily positioned where impact and viewership will be greatest. These banners are designed to survive the elements, so exhibitors can count on these durable displays to broadcast messaging no matter the season.

Pre-Fabricated Modular Trade Show Displays

Pre-Fabricated Modular Display

These trade show displays are pre-built and are made from a series of standardized pieces. These displays offer a modern look with aluminum extrusions and a variety of graphic materials and textures.

Pre-fabricated displays provide exhibitors with a base kit that they can use as-is or customize to their specific needs for each show. They can be extremely helpful for a first-time exhibitor since the kits simplify and streamline the entire display design process. Modular kits are also easy to ship, which saves both time and money.

Modular displays come in a variety of sizes and can include accessories such as counters, shelving, lights, monitor mounts, and literature holders. If you play your cards right, you can even design your modular display so that you can reconfigure it to fit different display footprints.

The ease of customization and exhibit versatility make prefabricated modular displays ideal for multi-show exhibitors with simple needs.

Custom Modular Trade Show Displays

Custom Modular Trade Show Display

Custom modular displays feature some similar elements to prefabricated modular displays such as aluminum extrusions, fabric graphics, and accessories. However, these displays are built to exhibitor specifications.

Designs can range from simple to complex. Many exhibitors opt for custom modular displays because they combine the streamlined setup and versatility of a prefabricated modular display with the eye-catching look of a custom-designed display. Depending on the size and intricacy of your design, these booths may require a professional crew to properly build out and take down.

Custom Trade Show Displays

Custom Trade Show Displays

Custom trade show displays are one-of-a-kind displays that are designed and tailored to meet the exact needs of a brand.

These displays are designed with a strategic approach in mind that takes the exhibitor’s goals into account. The 100% unique displays also consider the intended audience, budget, and overall marketing strategy.

Every custom display is 100% unique to the exhibitor. They include a wide variety of custom-fabricated materials, such as weed, fabric, laminates, glass, and plastics. Custom trade show displays vary in size from 10′ x ’10 on the smaller end to larger-than-life solutions.

In most cases, custom displays require a larger budget than custom modular displays. They almost always require an on-site crew for setup and breakdown.

While 100% custom displays require a larger investment, they offer more potential to stand out from the crowd, capture the attention of attendees, and draw in more visitors. When all is said and done, this can lead to greater success in terms of hitting your trade show goals, whether we’re talking sales, leads, or brand exposure.

Rental Trade Show Displays

Rental Trade Show Displays

Rental trade show displays are comprised entirely or partly of rental hardware components. These displays typically run around one-third of the cost to purchase a custom exhibit. Furthermore, rental displays provide exhibitors with an opportunity to test different designs and layouts without having to fully commit in terms of purchasing, storing, or maintaining a custom display. Here are three core advantages to renting your trade show display.


One major advantage of renting a trade show display is that you get an all-in-one pre-designed rental system. Each rental system provides features of a custom display, but without the hefty price tag.  You can piece together an awesome display that will compete on the trade show floor. Furthermore, you can change up your display depending on your needs on a show-by-show basis.

Try Before You Buy

You can mix and match different features and options when renting a trade show display. This means that you do not have to settle on a final design. Instead, you can demo a range of different configurations and see which version(s) work best based on your needs. If you love one (or more) of the designs, you can pull the trigger and purchase it.


Rental trade show displays offer speed and convenience. Furthermore, you can easily transport the display from show to show. If you luck out and develop a relationship with a local expert exhibit partner, you can save on shipping and benefit from above-average on-site consulting.

Closing Thoughts

Alright, so we’ve covered an array of trade show display options. We’ve also covered the various pros and cons of each type of trade show display. We’re hopeful that you feel better equipped to select the right type of trade show display in terms of your needs and budget.

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