What You Should Know About the Custom Trade Show Booth Design Process

How-To Tips

If you’re just getting started with trade show marketing for your company, you may not know what to expect. How do you design a custom trade show booth? What’s possible when it comes to design and fabrication? And how can you measure your results and justify your program? We’re guiding you through the entire process with the help of our award-winning trade show booth design team.

The Trade Show Design & Build Timeline

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither was an immersive trade show experience. Here’s what you can expect when it comes to your custom trade show booth timeline.

  1. Design – 2 to 4 weeks
  2. Fabrication – 8-16 weeks (depending on size and complexity)
  3. Installation – typically 1-2 days (depending on size and complexity)
  4. Measurement & Analytics – ongoing
  5. Program Management – ongoing

These timelines can be further extended due to supply chain issues, but a typical timeline for a new booth is about six months.

Step One: Design

Every great custom trade show booth starts by understanding your challenges and goals. You may be looking for a new trade show exhibit to:

If you’re not totally sure of your goals, that’s okay, too. Oftentimes, solidified goals are a product of conversation after exploring the possibilities your exhibit can offer.

Based on your budget, this is also the phase where you’ll decide if you wish to purchase your entire exhibit or opt for a custom rental.


Next, we dig into researching your industry, competitors, strengths, and opportunities. We perform some of our research independently, but we also sit down with you either in person or virtually to understand the nuances of your business. Our goal at this stage is to understand your position within your industry and what makes your customers tick, so we can build an exhibit customized to your (and their) needs.

3D Rendering

After research, the next step is to create a 3D rendering to help you visualize what your exhibit will look like. Our designers focus both on the big picture and the minute details to get everything just right before fabrication begins.

Your rendering will include everything you’ll see in your final exhibit, including:

  • The overall layout of the space
  • Major structures
  • Hanging signage
  • Textures and finishes
  • Graphics
  • Rendered lighting
  • Monitors and other technology

This will be your team’s opportunity to make sure everything looks exactly as you want it to appear on the trade show floor.


While your physical exhibit is being designed, you’ll also need to consider what digital content it will require. This might include:

  • Presentations and slideshows
  • Animated graphics for monitors
  • Interactive content for demos or workshops
  • Sales-supporting content to guide meetings and conversations

Meet Our Design Team

Through the design stage, you’ll work with our entire design team, including Creative Director Greg Tivadar, who has been with EDE since 2003.

“Design is integral to our company. It is at the forefront of everything we do. Understanding what is possible and where to challenge what’s possible is how we create larger-than life experiences.” Greg says. It’s all about thinking outside the box to create something that truly stands out on the show floor.

Step Two: Fabrication

Once your custom trade show booth design is finalized, our builders and carpenters translate the 3D renderings into physical installations. They work with a variety of materials, including wood, metal, glass, and textiles, as well as custom lighting, technology, and AV components to create a dynamic experience.

This step of the process is the longest, but also the most exciting! This is when your space begins to take shape and come to life.

Once your exhibit is complete, you’ll be invited to come see it assembled at our facility. If you can’t make it in person, our team will provide extensive photos and videos for your review.

Fabrication & the Supply Chain

The past few years have been challenging for trade shows, to say the least. With roadblocks throughout the supply chain, we’ve found communication is more important than ever. We do our best to inform our clients on lead times and material shortages and keep them updated throughout the entire custom trade show booth process.

We also build incredibly detailed timelines so that everyone is on the same page. And, we are proactive in our exhibit designs. We develop plans with materials we know will fit your budget and timeline so there are no hiccups during fabrication.

Our supply chain is mostly back to normal at this point. But, the lessons we’ve learned over the past few years have equipped us for future issues.

Meet Our Fabrication Team

Our award-winning fabrication team is the force behind bringing your custom trade show booth to life. Not only do they consider every detail of how your exhibit looks, but they also put substantial thought into how your exhibit functions. And, many of the exhibits they build are modular, helping you extend the longevity of your investment.

The fabrication team works on constructing a custom trade show booth frame.

Rich Davey, our Graphic Production Manager, has been with EDE since 2006. He says what sets EDE apart is “a thorough understanding of the past as well as the present, along with a willingness to look into the future and the unknown.”

Many of our team members have been with EDE for over a decade. The sheer amount of experience they have gained in that time means the sky’s the limit for your custom trade show booth. Our team has spent years developing their skills to bring you a truly jaw-dropping exhibit that will stick in your customers’ minds long past their trade show visit.

Step Three: Installation

Finding trusted, trained exhibit installers is a challenge for many businesses. That’s why we became an ownership partner of Sho-Link, a company that specializes in trade show installation and dismantling.

Our clients make significant investments in their exhibits, and this partnership ensures their assets are handled with care and can be used for years to come. We have exceedingly high standards for exhibit installation and care, and Sho-Link is up to the challenge. Wherever, whenever you need your exhibit, the team will be there to help.

Step Four: Measurement & Analytics

Your exhibit is only as good as the results it brings your business. That’s why a key part of our process is backing up the success of your custom trade show booth with real data.

We capture data through a number of channels, including:

  • CRM systems
  • NFC & iBeacon interaction
  • RFID information
  • Custom lead retrieval

These analytics help us record and track sales, leads, and conversions attributed to your trade show presence. They also help us measure the quality of your customers’ experiences at the trade show so we can continue to grow and evolve your exhibit to suit their needs. At the end of the day, analytics help you make more effective use of your budget and optimize your trade show experience.

Analytics on the Show Floor

MHS, a leader in material handling automation, saw a 500% increase in trade show traffic from 2019 to 2020. Their exhibit helped them achieve their goals while providing data to help them track their growth over time.

More recently, our client Intelerad, a medical system imaging management company, scheduled over 240 meetings in just four days while exhibiting at RSNA 2021. If there was ever doubt if trade shows would still be an important part of the marketing mix, their results from RSNA put that doubt to rest.

Our Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Jay Menashe, says “figuring out how EDE’s personalized experiences can move the needle for our clients is the ultimate measure of success. We know our exhibits will make our clients stand out, but making sure we’re driving success to our client’s bottom line is what matters most.”

Step 5: Program Management

Throughout the entire process, you’ll receive regular communication from the EDE team. Our hope is to make the custom trade show booth process easy on you and your team.

Our project management goals include:

  • Keeping you up to date on project progress
  • Clearly communicating any roadblocks to meeting budget or timeline
  • Satisfying the needs of multiple decision-makers to create an end product everyone is proud of
  • Contracting with our global network to maximize your investment
  • Making the process as rewarding (and fun) as possible for your entire team

You’ll also be able to access exhibit related tools through Window, our proprietary software that allows you to check exhibit component inventory, collaborate with key team members, and explore your analytics.

Now that you understand the custom trade show booth design process, it’s time to start thinking about what your future exhibit could look like. Check out our portfolio for inspiration!

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