For exhibit and event professionals  

How do I eliminate booth space envy?

December 3, 2013 By Editor

Trade ShowEvery time I come back from an event, at least one product manager stops by and says, “So-and-so had more space in the exhibit than I did” or “Why does this person always get the best space in the booth?” How can I keep this from happening?

— Yvonne, exhibits manager

Get everyone’s buy-in before the show

When managers believe they’re not getting their fair share of attention, they may feel unappreciated and be afraid this “disrespectful” act could affect their income and career. So, you need to prevent these attitudes from coming to the fore. How?

Our readers think you should:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Make the budget your focus.
  • Compensate for the lesser space.

Communicate, communicate, communicate 

Operating in a vacuum heightens the anxiety of most people, but being fully informed can allay any fears or resentments they may have.

Terrie Holahan, manager of trade shows/events, keeps her product managers in the loop every step of the way.

“It’s all about communication, pre-, at- and postshow. Your ROI/ROO for the show will help determine which products to showcase at that event. If Product B is going to be the driving factor at the show, then allot Product B more and/or better space. For different shows, Products A and C may be the headliners, while Product B is on the sidelines. Communicating your show strategy to the product managers beforehand, explaining why space has been allocated in a specific way, helps them understand the decisions you’ve made in the booth layout.

“During your at-show briefing, review the goals you’ve set for the team and why one product will be emphasized more than the other. If all three products have equal weight, yet one product has a dominant position, develop a strategy to draw your customers into the booth to talk more in depth about the ones that aren’t front and center.

“Finally, in your post-show report, review your ROI/ROO to see if you’ve met your objectives. Again, share your results with the managers so they have insight into what goes on in a booth, and the reason you’re ‘playing favorites’ is based on meeting these objectives. There may still be ‘space envy,’ but if the managers understand the reasoning behind your space allotment, it should assuage some feelings.”

Make the budget your focus 

Sometimes, the only way to convince people that there is a logic to what you’re doing is with understandable facts. 

Julie Rowell, trade show director with Equifax, uses finances to make her point.

“I always explain to the product managers the booth selection process for each show. As to why someone is getting more space, I go over the budget we set based on our goals and objectives for the show. Then, I give them an estimate of what it will take to complete that space with show services, etc. For example, you can’t do a 20 x 20 for $15K.”

Compensate for the lesser space 

Although you can’t make your exhibit any larger, you can find ways to let all your products shine in their own way.

An exhibits manager explains how to do this.

“Since upper management wants to push a specific product or line, and you have a finite amount of room in your exhibit, everyone can’t get the same amount of space. But tell the managers you’re going to level the playing field by putting a focus on the other products in different ways, such as installing strategic lighting to draw attention to them or giving them extra ‘room’ on a looping video.”


  • “For Yvonne to prevent these ‘turf wars,’ she needs to get all the product managers together — before the show — to detail how and why she’s allocating booth space. This way, they’ll be less likely to carp about not getting equal space and looking petty in front of their peers.”

    How do you keep all your product managers happy when it comes to exhibiting space?

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