Creative Exhibit Theme & Designs from EXHIBITOR 2012

There’s never a shortage of creativity at the EXHIBITOR Show in Las Vegas. Each year, the industry’s who’s who pull out all the stops to impress exhibit managers from companies large and small. Here are just a few examples from this year’s show.

Audience interaction was a frequent design theme this year. Both Global Experience Specialists (GES) and ELITeXPO had blank backwalls in their booth for people to sign. ELITeXPO’s theme was “This is WOW!” and had visitors signing (or sketching) in pink and black markers on a white fabric wall. The GES booth focused on “change your perspective” and had markers suspended from the ceiling used to write on a white hardwall. They also had an area where attendees used tablets (again suspended from the ceiling) to take a quiz featuring famous quotes on perspective-shifting to win a t-shirt featuring one of the five gurus quoted. But perhaps the most striking element in that booth was the upside-down furniture on the ceiling — an entire seating area plus a camera offering the perspective from the “high seats.”

Freeman took a different approach to audience interaction with high-tech customizing tools. Using a touch panel, visitors could select their color scheme, ambient music, and more. It was obvious how slight changes can make a big difference in the mood a booth creates. (These photos show the basic booth vs. blue lighting.)

(Photo courtesy of Classic Exhibits)

Classic Exhibits (who hosted Tim Patterson and me in their booth as resident “Ask the Experts”) used a simple theme of “Be Better” and featured their various products in spotlight fashion. In a 20×30′ space, they showed examples of their portables, custom modular, rentals, and aluminum extrusion capabilities. Around the exterior of the booth, there were four window-style vignettes, each featuring 10′ examples of various hybrid displays. Throughout the week, people kept coming into the booth saying it was the best on the show (including a few from other display companies).

Kubik also used a simple theme of “Think Big Picture” to their advantage. Featuring napkin sketches drawn by their designers (yes, on real napkins), they focused on the process of taking ideas to execution with a great strategy. Their pre-show promotions also featured the napkin-sketch designs.


Abex Exhibit Systems used an airport theme and featured a classic-attired flight attendant handing out bags of peanuts in front of a departure board. But one of the best parts of this theme was the attention to detail: the booth number was mounted high above the board as if it were a gate number, and cases were displayed at the end of the booth in the “baggage claim area.”




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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community. To request an “Extra Shot of Exhibit Success” go to