How to Choose the Right Trade Show Booth Configuration

Taking the first step in creating an engaging display for a trade show can be intimidating. You must consider the shows you plan to attend, the venue space and any restrictions. You also need to stay within your budget, achieve your trade show goals, connect with your audience, and… whew!

Before you get started, it’s helpful to know some of the typical trade show booth configurations as a starting point:

  1. Inline

  2. Peninsula

  3. Island

Each of the above comes with its own price tag, and pros and cons. Let’s dig in.


Inline trade show booth

Inline booths (sometimes referred to as linear booths) have three structural sides with the fourth exposed to an aisle. In most cases, inline exhibits are arranged in a straight line with neighboring booths to the left and right, and often behind. You can also have an inline booth that is arranged along the perimeter of an exhibit hall.  In this instance, the booth’s back wall will be against the venue wall as opposed to another exhibitor.

Tip: In most cases, an inline booth may not exceed eight feet in height. Additionally, there may be restrictions on the height of elements within a certain radius of the aisle. Check your venue’s rules carefully!


  • the three sides provide an abundance of usable space for graphics, product shelving, storage, and a variety of options to configure desks and/or display units
  • typically, a budget-friendly option
  • traffic to booths on either side can result in more exposure for your display


  • usually comes with height restrictions to avoid affecting neighboring booths’ visibility
  • opening is confined to one side, minimizing gathering space and exposure to aisle traffic


A peninsula exhibit has three sides exposed to aisles, with one backdrop wall. Typically, peninsula exhibits start at a 20’ x 20’ footprint and go up in size from there.

These exhibits either back up to inline booths or another peninsula exhibit. When backed by another peninsula booth, this is referred to as a split island booth.

Tip: While more spacious than inline booths with the ability to have taller structures, venues will still have height restrictions for peninsula displays. These will vary depending on the venue and whether it backs up against inline booths or another peninsula exhibit. Be sure to check the rules!


  • increased visibility with aisle traffic on three sides
  • height restrictions on peninsula displays are more generous than inline (usually 16-20 feet)
  • expanded options for creative displays and signage (including hanging signs)


  • be careful not to create barriers along the perimeter that would detract or block visitors from entering
  • incorporating storage requires strategic planning
  • more expensive than a standard inline booth


Island Trade Show Booth ConfigurationAn island booth is at least a 20’ x 20’ or larger exhibit exposed to the aisles on all four sides. As a stand-alone display, it commands attention on the trade show floor. It is the most high-end configuration, with the least restrictions on height, typically allowing structures to soar between 20’ and 30’ high depending on the exhibit hall.


  • High impact visibility
  • Maximizes trade show traffic with multiple points of entry
  • Draws attention due to flexible height restrictions and large footprint
  • Lots of flexibility in design options


  • Incorporating storage and meeting space can present challenges
  • Reduced control over traffic flow within the booth
  • Carries highest price tag of the three options

Determining which type of trade show booth you’ll need depends on several factors:

  • What are you trying to accomplish at the show?
  • Are you bringing products into the booth – how many, how big?
  • Will you be conducting demonstrations or holding meetings?
  • Do you need storage space?
  • Are you launching a new product?
  • Your available trade show budget
  • Available booth space at the shows you want to attend. Many shows sell out prime booth space 12-18 months in advance of the show, so plan ahead.

Partnering with an experienced exhibit house can help you evaluate these decisions and provide guidance when needed. Captivate Exhibits is a full-service exhibit and display partner from inspiration through completion. Ready to get started? Get in touch today!