How Much Do Booth Tables At Trade Shows Really Cost?

You might think this is a silly question. Or perhaps you’ve already asked the same question yourself at some point.

But from my perspective, booth tables at trade shows can be the most expensive thing in your exhibiting budget. Why?

Often, small exhibitors (the 10×10 kind) take the table and chairs that come as a package with the space rental. Then they position their table directly across the front of the trade show booth.

And they sit behind that table, waiting for prospects to stop by so they can take their orders.

I’m here to tell you that approach is costing you a fortune!

Those booth tables are big obstacles in front of your display, and they’re keeping people from getting into your exhibit. Even if there were room to squeeze in past the end of the table, attendees would feel trapped there. 

Trade Show Booth Table Top Display

The name of the game is - Make an Impact!

So, they rarely make an effort. And since they can’t get near the backwall display, where your products are displayed, they can’t see the products, and they can’t place an order.

So that table is costing you every order that doesn’t get taken. Why?

Because show attendees would rather not enter that confined space in your exhibit, this can be the difference between success and failure at a show, just because of the way you chose to arrange the furniture.

The smart exhibitors position their booth tables along one side of their trade show booth space (from front to back). They put it there to display a few products or catalog sheets. Maybe it also supports the badge scanner, tucked in the back corner of the booth.

They lay out their trade show booths this way, so there’s an unimpeded flow into the exhibit space. This allows attendees to easily come in off the aisle. They can have a more private conversation with a staffer and check out the exhibit’s backwall display, where product samples (or product photos) are on display.

Here are a few more suggestions on how the smart ones do things:

1) Position Booth Tables Along One Side of Your Booth, from Front to Back

This leaves the front of your exhibit open to visitors, who can see and touch your products or whatever you have displayed on your backwall. You can display small product samples on the table, along with literature and your badge scanner or lead-taking forms.

Some exhibitors place a candy dish on their table at the end furthest from the aisle, so visitors need to enter the booth to take a piece of candy. While candy-takers aren’t always your best leads, they are “captive” in your booth for a moment, which gives you time to ask a qualifying question. This can begin a discussion to determine whether the visitor is a real prospect or not.

2) Position the Booth Table Along the Back of Your Booth, from Side to Side

Maybe you hadn’t thought of this layout before, but it can make sense.

If your backwall backwall display doesn’t feature a product message that would be obscured by the table, you can display products and even demo your product on this table in the background.

It still leaves seventy square feet or so of your trade show exhibit open to the aisle. Attendees can easily enter and exit (and believe me, they’re looking for an easy exit before making their entrance).

You should be near the front of the booth, inviting people in to see your product in action. But even if you’re inviting them to get a closer look at a photo, the layout assures them that they won’t feel trapped once they come inside.

3) Give the Table Back to the Decorator

Maybe you don’t even need booth tables. Your modular booth’s packing case may transform into a counter. And that may be all the space you need to do what you have to do. If so, a table would just be cluttering up your trade show booth space.

Trade Show end tables with built-in charging stations

This has to be a well thought out process, not just a spur of the moment idea.

Your display’s graphics will have to do a better job explaining who you are and what you do since you won’t have a table to display your product on. The backwall display can display images of your product, of course. But a percentage of your prospects will always be kinesthetic learners who like to get their hands on the thing they’re learning about.

If this is the route you want to take, talk with your booth designer about how you can integrate product messaging and images into your backwall display and the counter wrap for the booth’s case, as well.

4) Whatever You Do, Get Rid of the Chairs

Yes, we know that standing on your feet all day is hard. That’s why they call it “work.” But who wants to do business with someone who is sitting down while they’re standing?

Even with awesome booth tables, it simply looks unprofessional to sit in your booth all day and wait for people to come to you. For smaller exhibitors, it’s better to stand near the front of your booth space and make small talk with attendees. 

Then, turn that talk into qualifying questions.

Once an attendee answers your question, you can offer to show him or her how your product or service can solve their problem or make their work easier in some way.

Treating your table and chairs differently at your next trade show will likely have a big impact on your results. It seems so simple, but it’s amazing how often exhibitors make a misstep in this area. 

Segue Portable Tradeshow Booths with SEG graphics

How Much Is a Booth at a Trade Show?

The trade show booth cost you will face actually depends on a number of factors, including your booth's size and layout, which we previously touched on a bit. The industry average is between $100 and $150 per square foot. 

Your trade show booth also determines all the other costs involved. Remember, it costs a lot more to ship a larger booth than it would if the booth were half the size.

While it may seem expensive when all is said and done, it is all made worth it when you find that you captured enough leads to bringing more prospects into your sales funnel. You will find that your trade show booth cost was well worth the investment. 

What Other Trade Show Costs Are Involved?

To get a better idea about how much a trade show booth may cost you, keep in mind several smaller details along with the bigger ones.


The overall display booth costs include your actual booth, the furniture you choose to use, flooring, graphics, and other signage, and so much more. You then have to consider your setup expenses, electrical needs, Wi-Fi setup, cleaning, and handling your packaged booth. 

Next, you have to factor in everything you will have within your booth, such as your promotional items and giveaways. Finally, your intangible costs, including the time you had to spend planning your booth, will also factor into your trade show booth's final cost. 

The Cost of a Custom Exhibit

You have to factor a bit more into the cost if you are looking for a custom exhibit. The costs tend to be greater with more customization, but you can also maximize your booth's impact and make an even bigger impression. You will typically find an average of between $125 and $325 or more per square foot for custom exhibit costs.

The Booth Location

Yes, the booth location also figures into the trade show booth cost. The space you choose may take up a larger portion of your budget and is also a major factor in how much traffic you may get. This can ultimately affect your ROI, so you want to choose a good location. 

Booth Rental vs Booth Costs

Is it better to rent a trade show booth or own one outright? If you frequent trade show events and attend more than once per year, you may find that purchasing your trade show booth is a better idea. 

Not only will you have your custom design, but you will have every square foot of exhibit space exactly how you want it. You will also find that if your booth is larger than the standard 10 x 10 size, it will be much more cost-effective.

However, booth rental allows you to change the brand on the booth easily. It allows you a certain amount of flexibility when you find yourself visiting multiple events on a very tight budget. You also have the opportunity to experiment with different floor plans to find something that works best for your brand.

So, Is It Worth It?

What do you think? You can determine the value of the trade show event you attended by comparing how much you spent on trade show booth costs to your booth's sales and leads during the event. A lead capture app is simple to use and can help you track the progress and success of the leads you captured during each event with your exhibit space.

If you need help with any part of your trade show exhibit, from the backwall display itself to graphics and accessories, let American Image Displays help you. Call (888) 977-8076 or email [email protected].

For more, check out the best location for your booth or why bigger isn’t always better with trade show booths.