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Trade Show Lighting - Control the Exhibit, Create the Sale

Trade Show Lighting - Control the Exhibit, Create the Sale

Posted by Chris Johnson on Aug 17th 2015


Controlling the environment is a fundamental lesson in sales. But often at a trade show or exhibition – where selling is the purpose of the convention – control is the one thing missing, especially in lighting.

Knowing the lighting situation before arriving on scene is as important as knowing the competition. When you know what you have to work with, you can develop a plan to control the environment and entice customers.

With the blaring overhead lights at most convention centers, too much additional lighting coming from trade show exhibitors with flood lamps can create a true "deer-in-the-headlights" look from customers. However, if the exhibit hall is dimly lit, only having a few clip-on display lights can make your area disappear in the corner. And with shipping rates, union fees and overall costs, exhibitors can't afford to come prepared for six different lighting options.

Trade show experts say doing your homework is extremely important. Call the venue, ask questions, be your own secret shopper. Search online for posted videos of previous shows at the facility. Ask what the fire regulations are for canopies over your displays.

Don't just go out and buy some fabric and bring it with you either, says Julia O'Connor, president of Trade Show Training Inc., a consulting and educational trade show company based in Virginia. Whatever you bring usually has to be flame retardant. You can be thrown off the floor for using improper equipment, so make sure you find out ahead of time what the rules are, she said.

Each venue has a different set of rules regarding what kinds of lights can be used, so if you aren't sure and no one is answering your questions, call an electrical company in town and ask.

After doing your homework, decide on a plan and browse online through trade show architects and lighting stores to find the right products. Remember these tips when choosing your lights:

  1. If there are specific display items that need to be highlighted, such as paintings, then use one display light for each item. If the item is especially wide, use two lights.
  2. If you do not have items to highlight and the display light uses an MR16 light bulb, use one display light for approximately every two feet of horizontal display space.
  3. If the display light uses a PAR halogen light bulb, use one display light for approximately every three feet of horizontal display space.
  4. If the display light is intended to wash the wall with light, then use one display light for every two to three feet of horizontal display space, depending on how brightly you want to "wash" the display wall.
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