Psychology of Traffic Patterns

Today, we continue to examine quality booth locations based more on the psychology of traffic patterns and what I call – engrained human behavior.

That was a mouthful but basically people tend to do the same thing over and over and the trade show community has identified these trends.

For example, when you go to a larger grocery store you always tend to start at one end of the store and work your way to the other – WHY?  Grocery stores study your movements and organize their aisles accordingly. They put fresh produce at the starting end and frozen foods and perishables at the other. They have engrained a shopping pattern in you.  They also know that many of us walk every aisle to make sure that we didn’t forget anything. So they put impulse items at the beginning of your adventure and household staples near the end.

These behaviors are carried over to all aspects of our life. So when you go to a show floor, just like a grocery store, people start at one end and go to the other. What is notable is that most attendees will turn right as they enter the exhibit hall.


It may be because it is easier to make a right turn when driving or because most people are right handed.   The reason is not the point, the OBSERVATION is what is important here.

So, your first tip is when you are choosing a booth space, favor the center and right side of the hall.

I have walked many show floors and talked to many exhibitors.   What happens as you walk each aisle is that you run out of time, energy, or you have way too many goodies in your bag, cutting off blood flow to your fingers, or you are just tired of talking to people.  So if people naturally tend to start on the right side of a show floor then you will be seen by happier, more energetic and fresher attendees by choosing a location in that direction.

Your second tip is to find and position yourself near specific landmarks. The most important landmark would be close to the host company’s exhibit in the case of – say – a user’s conference or the government agency’s exhibit at a Federal Trade show.  Most attendees will usually have a reason to visit these “anchor” exhibits.

If the show caters to the attendees with food or keynote speaker areas, see where people congregate especially if there are long lines in the hall. These lines can open new avenues for dialog and meeting attendees.   Now, I am not talking about the bathroom lines. People have other things on their mind especially if there is a line.

Also realize that the front of the hall may not be the best location. So visit the show with a purpose and study traffic patterns and hotspots.

Your third tip is to select a corner or peninsula exhibit, meaning one on the end of an aisle.  You will get much more traffic being on the intersection of two aisles and you can usually remove the side rail to open up your space and make your exhibit more inviting.  This is very basic.  Attendees will feel more comfortable in an open environment.

I also refer to the “Triangle” method of booth selection. It is well spoken about in the industry.   It basically says that the best location (the sweet spot) is to stay inside the triangle that has its flat side across the front center of the show floor and the other two sides angle towards the middle as your move back into the hall.

So for your fourth tip, just see where the larger island exhibitors position themselves on the showfloor and stay close to them.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments.  Exhibitor Lounge is always open to a mix of ideas from the trade show community.

Make sure that you let others know to go to to sign up for – Exhibitor Lounge.  We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.