“If I cannot have my stand at the front of the hall, on the left, then I’m not exhibiting!” How often, I wonder, do event organisers hear such statements? Other favourites include; “I must be near the (insert as appropriate) press office, VIP lounge, bar area, front or back of the hall”.
Myths abound over the impact of stand location upon show effectiveness. Some exhibitors believe that the typical visitor enters a show and instinctively turns left. When the appropriate research was done it was indeed the case that fifty percent of visitors did turn left. Guess where the other fifty percent turned? Right! Some argue the case that the front of the hall is the best location as all visitors must pass the front stands before meandering towards the back. Actually if you observe visitors in action, they seem to adopt a sprint as they first enter a show and then slow down to a more leisurely pace towards the middle / end of the hall. Arguably then, the middle is a better position given that visitors take longer to wander past your stand. Or is it? Some factions are proponents of a location next to the bar, on the premise that most visitors will indulge during opening hours. Yet others take the view that whether visitors imbibe or not is irrelevant because nirvana is a location next to the toilets (though not in certain eastern cultures!). The facts seem to be that unless you have a pillar in the middle of your stand (something which you no doubt will have spotted at the time of booking), there is no such thing as a bad location. Even if the venue is unfortunately arranged on several floors, organisers should be aware of this and take proactive steps to encourage traffic and footfall to any potentially isolated areas.

Often the fixation with stand location arises from either a positive or a negative experience in the past. At last year’s show we were successful and so we must have the same position again to replicate success at the next one. Alternatively we didn’t have such a good event and the culprit must have been our location (and not in any way related to poor stand behaviour)!

This obsessive behaviour extends to our neighbours. Some exhibitors insist on being located next to their competitors others cannot contemplate being anywhere near them. Generally I would encourage proximity to competitors if only because that is what visitors prefer. From their perspective shows would ideally be grouped by product or service types and colour coded. It is seen as an extension of supermarket mentality. As a shopper, you like fruit and vegetables together and not to surprisingly encounter a carrot amongst the frozen chickens. The same applies to competitors. The most common scenario occurs when an exhibitor contracts late and has no option but to be remotely located. This is more likely to confuse the visitor who can appreciate no apparent rationale for this isolation. The moral – book early and focus your efforts on issues that matter far more than location.