If you can afford the extra space, the island exhibit offers the least restrictive show rules of all the booth space layouts. Key features include aisles on all sides, allowing access to the exhibit from all directions. Another way of saying it is that you have no neighbors, you are an island. Because there is no one else that is competing for sight lines or visibility you are able to enjoy the maximum allowable height offered by the show organizer in the exhibit hall. This includes structures in your space from the ground up, or overhead signs connected from the ceiling.
The maximum height is usually much greater than the linear exhibit limitation of 8’ and is usually from 16’ up to about 25’. If you plan to exhibit in a space larger than a 10 x 20, you should give serious consideration to the 20 x 20 island exhibit before opting for the 10 x 30 or 10 x 40 simply because of the advantages of the additional visibility, position on the show floor, and least restrictive show rules.
A way to help pay for this extra space is to co-opt the space with other companies. Let’s say that you are a door manufacturer and you only sell to distributors. Booth space costs run $1,500 for each 10 x 10 space you secure with the show organizer; you normally do a 10 x 30 to display your product. The cost would be $4,500 for the 10 x 30 space. By co-opting your space with a retail distributor who would pay for the 4 space at $1,500, you are able to secure a 20 x 20 island exhibit with all the added benefits that it provides.
We know what you’re thinking… You’d tell me it would cost more to carpet the area, to hang an overhead sign, and to fill the space with more product and staff. Stop looking at the negatives and focus on the possibilities! I have seen companies co-opt the space with two or three partners giving each a kiosk or workstation to work from. They would charge $1,000 for each workstation and in so doing they would recoup half of the space fee. They now have the ability to pay for the extra items (like carpet and overhead sign hanging) to give them much more visibility. It’s a win-win for everyone. The distributors get first introductions to clients who visit the manufacturer’s exhibit. They will gladly pay a reduced co-opted rate to be directly associated with their manufacturing partner on the show floor instead of getting their own exhibit space and stocking it.
The island exhibit offers many advantages to set you apart as a prominent exhibitor. Read the show rules to make sure that you can co-opt the space with other partners and understand that the show will only allow one name registered to the space. This anchor exhibitor (like the door manufacturer we used in our example) would be the only name in the attendee show book. Distributor or partner branding signs are usually allowed in the exhibit space.