Posted on 22, June, 2015
Last Modified on 28, February, 2023
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So, you're all set for your first trade show. You have your sales pitch down pat and your custom booth is ordered and arriving any day now. You even bought some of those ergonomic bar stools and an anti-fatigue floor mat to keep you on your game all day — and your visitors. But did you stop to think if any of the stuff you bought would be prohibited in the trade show convention center? For instance, did you know that a booth over 12’ tall probably won’t be allowed entry or that you can’t deliver your sales pitch anywhere except the confines of your booth? Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the most common trade show booth regulations and rules so you can double and triple check that your exhibit is compliant before the big day arrives.
*Your exhibitor manual will have the specific details on exactly what is or is not compliant with your trade show venue — so check it out for the full details when you're done here!
Types of Booths
In order to understand which rules and regulations apply to your exhibit, first you'll need to know what type of booth you're using:
- Standard - The most common style of trade show booth, also called a linear booth, is 10’ x 10’ and has other booths on its back and sides
- Perimeter - Same makeup as a standard booth, also 10’ x 10’ - but shares two side walls with other booths and its back is up against a wall
- Peninsula - Any booth sized 20’ x 20’or larger with aisles on three sides
- Island - Any booth sized 20’ x 20’ or larger and is surrounded by aisles on all sides
Now, let's dive into the 6 most common categories of trade show booth design rules!
1. Height Restrictions
- Standard Booth - For your standard 10' x 10' booth, the height of the display is restricted to 8' height on the back and sides of the booth. From the front of the booth to 5' back, the walls can be no higher than 4'.
- Perimeter - For a perimeter booth, height is restricted to 12' height on the back and sides of the booth. From the front of the booth to 5' back, the walls can be no higher than 4'.
- Peninsula Booth - For a peninsula booth, the height requirements vary depending on the location and what types of exhibits are around you. It's best to check with the venue on exact measurements.
- Island Booth - Because island booths typically are the biggest, it's best for you to check with the venue on exact measurements.
2. ADA Requirements
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all exhibits to be equally accessible to attendees with disabilities.
- Trade show booths must be equally accessible to all persons, providing the exact same experience/access to all.
- Must provide ramps if the booth features a raised floor.
- Exhibitors can be fined for non-compliance.
3. Stay Within 10' x 10'
- Cannot place displays outside of the 10' x 10' area of the exhibit booth — this includes hanging signs.
- Cannot engage in marketing activities outside of the booth area
- No "guerilla" style marketing — which is an innovative, unconventional technique aimed at obtaining maximum exposure for a product usually at a low cost to the company.
4. Don't Obstruct Sight Lines
- Displays taller than 4' are not permitted in the front half of the booth.
- Cannot obstruct sight lines to any other booth. This includes signage, hanging posters, and lighting.
5. Lights & Electrical
- Check your exhibitor manual for exact specifications of what is/is not allowed.
- Secure electrical cords to the floor with tape.
- Lights cannot extend out of boundaries of the booth space.
- Spotlights must be directed towards the inside of the booth.
- Lighting cannot be obnoxious or distracting from other exhibits or the general atmosphere of the event venue.
6. Music Rights/Permissions
- Don't play copyrighted music that you do not have permission to use.
- You can license the songs you want - but it can get expensive.
- The bigger your brand, the more likely that you'll get in trouble for using music without a license.
You don't want to jeopardize the success of your upcoming trade show by not following the standard guidelines — and we don't want you to either! Be mindful of these 6 common regulations and you're sure to knock'em out of the park!