Fitting all the desired stands and features into a hall is a challenging puzzle, and one that will have a profound effect on visitor experience. Mike Trudeau asks event directors for their tips on floorplans.
Laying out the floorplan of a show is like setting up furniture in a new house. You may give it comparably little thought but it will have a profound effect on how the place functions. Here, EN takes a look at standard practice, common pitfalls and strategies to help you plan your show layout.
Having an abstract floorplan concept, while appealing in an aesthetic sense, can have impractical consequences in reality.
“When we did our first couple of floorplans we created diagonal aisles all leading to the central hub,” said National Electronics Week UK event director Claire Saunders. “It looked great but was challenging for the stand contractor. We now ensure we have as many aisles as we can either feeding from the central hub or having visibility of it.”
It’s also important to consider details like pillars, ducts or anything else that might disappoint an exhibitor when they arrive on the day of the show.
“Making sure you have the pillars and ducting showing on your plan from the start means each stand holder knows exactly what they are getting – this saves so much time later in the process,” said Saunders.
“Obviously don’t block off fire exits and staircases,” event director for Diversified’s Natural and Organic Products Europe show Simon Barry continued.
“Aisle widths shouldn’t be too big or too small. In addition, not having even-sized stand blocks or irregular shapes affects the yield and are difficult to sell.”
Another consideration is how far sound travels in a hall’s climate-controlled environment.
“In a show like Move It, you really need to be aware of sound clash,” said Shirry Liram, event director for Upper Street Events’ Move It dance expo. “For example, dance studios can’t be too close to each other and the seminar room can’t be in close proximity to the main stage. That would drive everyone mad.”
In addition, spreading the features around so no stand is too far from a point of interest will help prevent ‘deserts’ of lower-value stands in one section of the hall.
Venues will often require organisers to lay aisles out in a right-angled grid pattern, but make sure you have a wider central aisle to act as a main artery, channelling visitors easily to the heart of the show. A direct line of sight from the entrance to a main feature or visually arresting area makes the exhibition more exciting and inviting.
Although you may feel your creativity is being hampered, the grid layout does make it easier for visitors to find their way around, not to mention contractors assembling shell scheme. It’s important to also make wider aisles where you are expecting higher traffic flow.
“Visitor flow is important to get attendees into all areas of the hall, so we locate visitor features in strategic areas of the show to help this,” Diversified’s Barry explained. “For example, our popular New Products Showcase is at the back of the hall, drawing visitors through the show.
“We also balance out the positioning of space-only stands, shell scheme and our international pavilions so the show looks vibrant, interesting and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.”
And at the end of the day, having a thick skin will prove helpful.
“It’s a mistake to assume everyone will have an equally good show,” Liram said. “Despite our efforts to create exciting zones everywhere, there will always be an area that is less visited than others.”
- Place popular areas strategically to draw visitors through the rest of the show
- Consider the delivery of exhibits, stand build and contractors
- Use regularly shaped stand blocks and right-angled aisles
- Give as many aisles as possible visibility of features
- Spread features and large exhibitors around the hall
- Be aware of sound pollution: Don’t place seminar rooms near stages
- Allow visitors to plan their visit by making the floorplan available online
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