Trade Show Furniture: Know Your Options

Exhibit Design | Trade Show Rentals
November 15, 2021

Choosing your trade show furniture, whether it’s a counter or a sofa, can be overwhelming. There are as many types of trade show furniture as home or office furniture. Let’s make the selection process a bit easier by dividing trade show furniture into four categories:  counters, seating, tables, and charging design. Then we’ll further narrow it down by describing whether you should purchase or rent that table, chair, lamp, or workstation (along with so much more).  

We won’t cover every option, but with this knowledge and some guidance from an experienced trade show team, you’ll be up and running (or seated) in no time. Whether you’re looking for professional trade show rentals or fully custom exhibits – we’re ready to help.


An Introduction to Trade Show Furniture

Just like in a home or office, the furniture you choose drastically changes the room’s aesthetic and use. It’s important to note that furniture not only affects the area visually but can dictate how people interact in the setting and even how they feel (comfort, color psychology, etc.) With all this in mind, it’s very important to be deliberate in your furniture selection and be sure it contributes to your vision, trade show goals, branding, and encourages your potential clients to engage with your team.


Trade Show Furniture


Trade Show Counters, Workstations, Kiosks, Monitor Stands, and Pedestals

​​You might not consider reception counters or workstations, for example, as furniture, but they’re the essential workhorses of most modern exhibits. Most have features like locking storage, shelves, and even wire management, which isn’t all that different from traditional office furniture. 

There are really two criteria to choosing the right ones for your booth. 

First, does it fulfill a practical purpose in your space? Like holding a monitor, storing literature or promotional giveaways, featuring your products (think glass showcase), or functioning as a meeting space to interact with attendees. Booth spaces are tight, and furniture for the sake of furniture is expensive and counter-productive (pun intended). 

Secondly, does it match your design objectives? Not only do you not want furniture that doesn’t serve a practical purpose, but you don’t want one that’s the wrong color, style, or shape to the overall design. You might be wondering why anyone would choose furniture that doesn’t match the design or theme of the booth. Sometimes it’s simply a lack of planning but more often it’s a decision based on cost. Imagine a beautiful island exhibit in bright, bold colors. A reception counter in those same colors would be perfect. Instead, the exhibitor chooses a portable counter with aluminum supports and a black countertop. It’s functional but an odd duck in a sea of swans. 

Tip #1

Wire management is one of the single biggest details overlooked when designing and preparing for a trade show because no one asks the right questions about what equipment or devices will be in the booth space. As a result, what would have been an inexpensive and inconspicuous wire management solution if handled during the exhibit build becomes an expensive, damaging, and ugly solution when handled on the show floor.


trade show booth furniture


Trade Show Seating

Seating used to be a no-no in a trade show booth, except for meetings. Not anymore. Seating is the unsung hero of trade show furniture. Stroll through any trade show, large or small, and seating is a “must-have,” for both booth staff and attendees. And it’s not just limited to large islands. Most 10 or 20 ft. inlines have seating as well. And why not? Everyone wants to be comfortable and if seating means potential clients linger while discussing their product or service needs then it’s a win-win. 

When it comes to seating, your options are extensive, whether you’re looking at bar stools or upholstered furniture. 

Seating Categories Include: 

  • Conference Chairs – Office chairs for a desk or conference table
  • Bar Stools – Elevated chairs with footrests with or without backrests 
  • Accent Chairs – Upholstered or leather chairs typically found in lobbies or offices
  • Soft Seating – The good stuff! Comfy sofas, loveseats, and chairs for lounging 
  • Group Seating – Individual chairs for large groups during presentations or events
  • Ottoman – Matching ottomans for both soft seating and accent chairs

Tip #2

If someone tells you that seats in a booth are unprofessional, then don’t walk away – have a seat. If your booth staff is relaxing in chairs and ignoring potential clients, that’s not the fault of the chairs. It’s a training issue or you’ve simply brought the wrong team to the show. Sitting down is not a crime. Ignoring business opportunities in your booth is!


Trade Show Seating


Trade Show Desks and Tables

With tables, your options are more limited. Which is OK. You probably don’t need hundreds of conference or bar tables to choose from. You’re much more likely to select the seating and then find an appropriate table to match. In this case, fewer options are better. However, there are some choices that can make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. For example, many bar tables are height adjustable. Café tables come in a variety of diameters, which can be crucial in a conference room with limited space. Some tables come with charging ports. Plus, there are a variety of colors, designs, and materials (i.e., wood vs. metal vs plastic). 

Table Categories Include:

  • Bar Tables – Similar to Café Tables but taller and with a smaller diameter countertop
  • Café Tables – Lower and with a larger countertop
  • Conference Tables – These vary in size depending on the seating requirements
  • Presentation or Product Tables – Think product tables like in an Apple store. More often purchased rather than rented
  • Bars – While not strictly a table, curved bars are a popular rental option for many exhibitors
  • Banquet Tables – When covered with a branded tablecloth, these are perfect for smaller booth spaces or for tabletop displays


Trade Show Desks and Tables


Trade Show Charging Tables and Kiosks

Charging tables and kiosks are increasingly common in trade show booths. As an attendee, finding outlets on the show floor to charge your phone, tablet, or computer can be an adventure. How often have you seen someone sitting on the floor in the corner of an exhibition hall with their phone cord plugged into a random outlet? 

Attendees (and your staff) appreciate convenient charging options in a booth where they can sit and chat. Newer charging tables and kiosks come with both USB and wireless options. Plus they can be branded with your logo or marketing message. Not only are the tables available in a variety of shapes, like round, square, rectangle, and octagons, but they are also available in bistro, end, and coffee tables. Most have attractive LED lighting too, which can be customized to match the primary color of your booth. Gone are the days when the only charging option look like someone stole it from the airport on the way to the exhibition hall. 


Trade Show Charging Tables and Kiosks


Trade Show Rental Furniture

Renting your trade show furniture as opposed to buying it can be an easy way to go all-out and get the perfect setup for your next show. Alternatively, if you find yourself renting the same kinds of items a lot, starting with rentals sure makes it easier to make an informed purchasing decision.

Your trade show consultant can take you through all the types of trade show furniture. Your options are extensive, whether you’re looking at bar stools, tables, or upholstered furniture. In some situations, it may make sense to purchase furniture, like chairs for a meeting room, but in most cases, renting is a smarter solution. Yes, rental furniture can be somewhat pricey, but remember, buying and shipping furniture is inconvenient, expensive, and the likelihood of damage is very high. Plus, renting furniture gives you the freedom to make changes from show to show. 

Tip #3

Work with your exhibit house when selecting rental furniture. They have relationships with multiple furniture rental companies and know which companies will have the best service and selection depending on the venue. In addition, they can often secure better pricing than what’s being offered by the show contractor, whose selection can be limited. After all, you don’t want to look the same as 15 other exhibits on the show floor.


Learn About Virtual Exhibits

In the digital era, it’s important to adapt and embrace new technologies. Learn about how virtual trade shows can help you reach and engage new customers.


Need Help Pairing the Right Trade Show Furniture with Your Booth?

We’re here to help with every intricacy of trade show exhibits, from furniture to layout to planning and beyond. Count on our well-experienced consultants to listen and come to understand your brand before making some dynamite suggestions. 

The next time you need anything to do with trade show furniture, reach out to Exhibits NW.

Schedule a Call

If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form, and we’ll contact you shortly.

Schedule a Call
If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form and we’ll contact you shortly.