Trade Show Lighting Options for Exhibits & Booths

The creative use of lighting is an effective way to catch people’s attention at trade shows. Vendors can use trade show lighting to illuminate their booth, banners, and products on display.

Lighting can also be used to set the mood or atmosphere of your booth. You can inspire curiosity or intrigue visitors using different light setups or even create a sense of privacy if your clients require that type of setting.

As you may have figured out, creating the right effect using lighting goes beyond mere guesswork. Although there is a lot of leeway for creativity, you want to set up your trade show lighting to follow certain guidelines.

Let’s start with the basics.

Trade Show Lighting: The Basics

Light Types

Lights types for trade shows come in three main categories, including:

  1. LED lamp: Featuring low heat emission, lower power consumption, and high light output.
  2. Halogen lamp: Featuring high heat emission, high power consumption, and regular light output.
  3. Gas-discharge lamp: Featuring moderate heat emission, regular power consumption, and high light output.

Keep in mind that high power consumption doesn’t necessarily translate into higher light output.

Color Temperature

Three main color temperatures exist when it comes to trade show lighting. Note that color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K). These are:

  1. Soft White (Warm White): The soft or warm white light is the gentlest of all lights. It is a soft yellowish light that creates a sense of relaxation. This is an excellent light choice for setting a comfortable mood in the booth. It has a color temperature ranging from 2700K to 3000K.
  1. Bright White (Cool White): The bright white light or cool white is slightly whiter than soft white and a perfect choice for lighting products on display. They accentuate product details, making it easy to catch customers’ eyes. This light has a color temperature ranging from 3500K to 4100K.
  1. Daylight: This type of light is bluish with a slightly whitish tint. It looks like a cloudless day and works great for illuminating branding or company logo. The daylight color temperature starts from 5000K and above.

LED vs. Halogen Lights for Trade Shows

The two prime examples of warm and cool lights are LEDs and halogens, as far as trade show lighting is concerned.

If you are using a 100-watt halogen bulb, for example, it falls within the soft white range of color temperature. On the flip side, LEDs fall into cool or bright white (at 4000K) and daylight (at 7500K).

Do not worry if the above seems a bit tricky to grasp. The next two sections will help you understand the lighting options that work best for different parts of your exhibition.

Effective Use of Lighting

Now that we have a fair understanding of the basics, let us focus on how to correctly use the different types of lights.

Proper Lighting

Every vendor at the trade show floor wants to attract customers but using full laser light with several colors, and multi-flashing signs is definitely overkill. Catching people’s eyes from across the hall requires giving careful thought to how you combine your lighting.

Here is a more practical approach.

First, decide what you are trying to illuminate. Go with cooler LED lights if you want to illuminating products. These lights are better at accentuating eye-catching details. LEDs on the higher temperature spectrum (daylight) are also great for highlighting your company logo and name or brand slogan.

On the other hand, consider using warm halogen lights if you want to illuminate people (booth reps or sales associates). These lights are more flattering and won’t make people appear pale. If you want to create a sense of privacy, soft white (warm white) is your best bet.

If you are opting for gas-discharge lights, consider using them for illuminating your floor and booth.

Focusing the Light

With people and products properly illuminated, you should think of maintaining or holding your visitors’ attention by deliberately focusing the trade show lighting on different spots. In other words, you want to direct your potential customer’s gaze to exactly what and where you want them to look.

Consider focusing or highlighting the following:

  • Your brand logo (or name): People on the show floor will likely walk past your booth without stopping if they can’t see who you are.
  • Your brand slogan (or branding): Attendees are not likely to stop at your booth if they have to think hard to figure out what your company is all about.
  • Products on display: People will quickly understand what your company does if they can clearly see the products you showcased.

Do’s and Don’ts of Trade Show Lighting

Lastly, let’s shift our focus to the correct use of lighting on the trade show floor. Remember that you can make a good first impression or a bad one depending on how you use your lights.

Investing in trade show lighting is not particularly cheap, regardless of the type you choose. Therefore, you should learn a little bit of how to make the best use of the element to maximize your return on investment.

Do: Invest in Quality Lighting

The price of good quality lighting equipment might be steep, but purchasing these types of lights is the smartest thing to do if you are looking to save money in the long run.

The upfront cost of energy-efficient LED trade show lights is typically more expensive, but they last several times longer than ordinary incandescent lights. You won’t have to spend money repeatedly on the cost of replacements.

Don’t: Go Overboard

There are various ways to experiment with lighting your trade show space, but going into an experimentation overdrive will defeat your goal of attracting people to your booth.

The most effective way to use lighting is to be subtle. Use slow fades to draw attention to vital areas in your booth. Avoid adding too many color-changing lights in several places or adding making your booth too colorful. You should aim to catch the attendees’ attention and not distract them.

Do: Consider Backlighting

Backlighting is the technique that involves strategically placing lights inside frames, signage, or behind fabric panels to illuminate them. This is one of the most ingenious and biggest trade show lighting ideas that is always on-trend.

This lighting style is simple and not shouty. Yet, it is great to captivate passersby’s attention because it directs their eyes to the logos or graphics on the material they illuminate.

Don’t: Ignore the Value of Creating an Experience

Remember that you want the people walking into your trade show booth to have a certain experience unique to your brand. A positive and memorable experience is far more important than any gimmick you add to your booth.

With that in mind, you should use your trade show lighting to complement the overall experience you are trying to create instead of making the lights your main focus.

Final Thoughts

trade show lighting on blank white banners

Getting your trade show lighting right is crucial for your exhibit. Besides making your graphics and products more visible, lighting can give your booth an appealing look and feel if done correctly.

In setting up your lighting, always remember that people on the show floor have a very short attention span, and if your booth doesn’t intrigue them in the first few seconds, they are not likely to check out who you are and what you do.

It is hoped that you will use the suggestions in this article to guide you as you experiment with the best lighting for your trade show booth.