7 Small Trade Show Booth Ideas for 2023

Last updated: January 19, 2023

I love exhibiting at trade shows. I get excited by all the new connections and sales opportunities that they create.

But exhibiting at a trade show costs thousands of dollars in registration and equipment fees, plus dozens of hours of your valuable time.

So how do you design a good small trade show booth that gets results?

I’ll show you a bunch of ideas in this article that you can use to design your own small trade show booth. You’ll see:

  • Four small 10’ x 10’ trade show booths
  • Seven photos of trade show signage
  • A few other ideas, including a great table wrap

Why listen to me: Hi, my name is Nick Gray. I’ve designed small trade show booths for both of my last multi-million dollar companies: Museum Hack (10×10 booths) and Flight Display Systems (10×10, 10×20, and even 20×20 booths). The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and other major publications have written about me and my companies. I’ve also attended over 25 trade shows in the electronics and business aviation industries.

Nick Gray at a trade show booth (AIX 2010)
Me and my trade show stand at the Aircraft Interiors Expo. Note my use of signage on nearly every wall. It was aggressive marketing during an important time of growth for the company.

Classification and Sizing

First, let’s talk specifics. What classifies a “small” trade show booth?

The most common size for a small trade show booth is 10’ x 10’, or ten feet by ten feet. This is the introductory-sized booth which many small business owners and first-time exhibitors will purchase.

We can also define a small trade show booth as anything with a depth of 10 feet or less, or approximately three meters. That would include 10×10, 10×20, and 10×30 booths – although a 10×30 space is pretty large!

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on 10’ x 10’ spaces, which I’ll refer to as a 10×10 trade show booth.

You can do a lot with a 10×10 booth space! I’ll show you some of my favorite examples of small businesses and what they’ve done in only 100 square feet.

Small Trade Show Booth Ideas

These are some of the best 10×10 stands that I saw. I hope they will give you ideas for your own trade show booth.

Beneath each of the photos I will list some important design elements that I’m observing.

High end: 10×10 with Lights, Monitor

10 Pound Gorilla had this 10′ x 10′ corner space trade show booth. I loved the consistent branding, lights, and logo placement.

small trade show booth at the NBAA 2022 convention in Orlando
While not intentional, the red backdrop plays very well off the default blue banners used at this convention.
  • Bold and consistent red color
  • Small self-mounted lights which attach to back sign
  • Extra top logo bonus sign
  • LCD monitor showing rotating slides. Note that this adds to complexity and cost of setup
  • Small table stand at hip height
  • Tall counter chair

Mid-range: 10×10 with Backdrop, Table wrap

This is a great example of a strongly-branded, aisle-middle small trade show booth. Bramport Supply used consistent branding across their lyrcra-like cloth sign and table wrap for a clean look.

Bramport's small trade show booth (10x10 space) at a convention
This small business (Bramport) had nice signage and a table wrap for their 10×10 middle aisle space
  • 10′ wide backdrop sign fills the entire width of their booth
  • Table wrap is color-consistent and prominently shows logo
  • Product samples are on display for hands-on table demo
  • Two normal chairs (not pictured) for staff seating

Mid-range: 10×20 with Backdrop, Table Skirt, Products

Airtext is seen here with an LCD monitor on top of their table, plus several products available for hands-on demonstrations. I like their table skirt and have provided links to where the purchased it below.

slightly larger trade show booth showing blue signs for Airtext
This 10×20 corner booth makes good use of consistent colors and table cloths

Basic: 10×10 with Lighted Pull-up Signs

Lonseal used this three pull-up signs to create a simple yet effective backdrop in their trade show booth. I liked how they signs were top- and bottom-lit to create a bit more of an impression. Each sign collapses into a small size that is easy to travel with and set up.

An even more budget backdrop option is to use these simple pull-up signs, like I had made for my book recently. This sign cost about $130 to print and included a carrying case. It is easy to travel with.

pull-up trade show sign inside a small trade show booth
Me (Nick Gray) with my own pull-up sign for my book, The 2-Hour Cocktail Party

Luxury: 10×30 with Backlit Box Signs

This is the largest “small” trade show booth that I will feature here, but I wanted to highlight their backlit box signage because it looked so impressive at the convention.

backlit box signage in a trade show booth
Note the depth of these signs, which requires some complex setup and wiring.

Nuvite used a full-length box sign backdrop in their booth to feature their products and draw attention to trade show visitors. See these additional photos below for examples of how it looked.

Booth Layout

At least one side of your trade show booth will be open to face the aisle or walkway. This is your forward-facing side of the booth and where clients and potential customers will approach you from.

Trade Show Tip: Whenever possible, I prefer to get a corner booth location at a trade show. It gives me and my team more aisle access to be approached by prospective customers and visitors.

Typically, the back side of the trade show booth – the one opposite of the open side – is where the primary signage is displayed. This sounds obvious, but I wanted to mention it in case anyone is brand new to booth design.

Unique Signage

While expensive to purchase and difficult to travel with, this wall of five LCD monitors made an impact at the trade show. I’ve also included a photo of the back so you can see how it is self-supportive.

I took pictures of this company’s trade show sign and backdrop because it looked very professional:

Trade Show Brochure Stands

This is a collapsible, metal brochure stand that allows for multiple different handouts. It collapses into a small size and was relatively lightweight. I do not know the name of the manufacturer or where to buy it.

collapsible brochure stand shown at a trade show
3- or 4-level brochure stand for display of flyers or other marketing materials

This simple tabletop sign is lightweight, easy to set up, and much larger than a standard brochure display. I estimate that the height is 30-inches tall.

Table Skirt for Small Booths

A “table skirt” is the name for the table cloth or elastic wrap that you can place on or around the tables at your trade show booth. Getting a custom branded table skirt is an easy way to make your trade show booth look more professional.

As an example, here’s what Airtext did for their booth:

trade show table skirt showing company logo and products on display
This skirt is a bit more versatile for different trade show table heights and lengths

They purchased these from this website linked below, but I have no affiliation with them (feel free to buy anywhere you want).

Jonathan Pinson, General Manager of Airtext, told me the following: “I highly recommend getting a table skirt with the water repellent feature. We found that wrinkles in the skirt fall out much faster when you steam them.”

Conclusion

Setting up and exhibiting at a trade show can be hard and cost-prohibitive, especially for a small business.

But it can also be one of the most rewarding and sales-productive events that your company engages in.

I took all of these photos at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual meeting and trade show convention in Orlando, Florida in November 2022. Then I compiled them into this article in January 2023.

To see some other trade show booth photos, look at the ones I designed during my time at Flight Display Systems.

I hope that some of these ideas and trade show booth photos will help you think about how to reach new customers and design an excellent booth. Good luck!

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for this article? Maybe you have photos of your company’s 10×10 trade show booth that I should add? Send me an email and I will add them to this post.

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