Types of Trade Show Displays

The competition for brand recognition is rarely more intense than on the floor of a trade show, where vendors across numerous industries set up displays to court consumers and investors. Some of these displays are elaborate and bold, others are simple and understated, yet each company tries its best to advance a particular type of product or service. Thankfully, today’s trade show vendors have more options than ever with the multitude of display types discussed in this article.

Tension Fabric Displays

tension fabric display

In recent years, tension fabric displays have emerged as one of the most portable and convenient display types. Most tension fabric displays consist of knit-polyester graphic sheets that wrap around and zip shut over metal frames, which can be assembled and disassembled in a few easy steps. Tension fabric displays are considered handy because they’re easy to clean, fold and carry, and they’re inexpensive to replace or modify.

APG Exhibits carries tension fabric displays in a variety of styles, including the credit card-shaped Waveline display, the multi-paneled Vector Frame display, the canopied Satellite display, the curved OneFabric and Formulate displays, the three-dimensional Vibe Display and the peg-boarded Merch Express display. Each can be mounted with lights for a more vivid view from afar, and most come with matching display cases/podiums.

Tension fabric displays are suitable for advertising everything from smartphones and computer tablets to beverages, travel agencies and fashion accessories. For example, the Formulate display has been used as a showpiece for the Infinity surface tablet, while the OneFabric has been used as a promotional tool for the Samsung Galaxy SVI.

Modular Truss Exhibits

modular display

The modern, striking, state-of-the-art appearance of the modular truss style of trade show displays is popular among vendors who wish to stand out on the floor at trade show events. Designed by Orbital ExpressTM Truss, each kit consists of reconfigurable truss and back-wall pieces that range from 10×10 to 20×20. Regardless of the configuration, modular truss exhibits can be set up quickly and easily by hand. Any type of display can be assembled with simple twist-and-lock motions — no tools are needed.

Exhibit kits in the 10×10 range from the Orbital Express line include the curved Metis and Helios models, as well as the flat Clio, Eros and Luna kits. Kits in the 10×20 range include the collapsible, six-panel Electra, Hydrus, Magellan and Omicron designs, in addition to the canopied Antares and Cepheus models. The elaborate 20×20 Orbital kits range from the multiple-truss domed Centaurus and the stacked drum shapes of the Orion to the multi-directional Canis and maze-like Draco designs.

Pop Up Displays

pop up displays

One of the simplest types of trade show displays is the pop up display, which is basically a collapsible set of panels that can be propped up to advertise products and services. As one of the lighter weight display types, the pop up can easily be carted around, unfolded like an accordion and set up at trade shows and other public events. The majority of pop up displays feature basic, bold graphics and logos that are designed to boost brand recognition among trade show attendees. Pop ups can be embellished with clip-on lights and shelves for added visibility and product display capabilities.

APG Exhibits offers pop up displays in the following styles:

  • OneFabric Tension Displays. A relatively simple line of designs, OneFabric pop up displays come in straight and curved-back models and range in size from 2.5 ft. (1×3) and 5.0 ft. (2×3) at the smaller end to 10 ft. (4×3) and 20 ft. at the larger end. Most models consist of a single backboard panel, plus an attachable floor and counter piece. OneFabric models in the 20–25 ft. range contain three backboard panels and two counters.
  • Hop Up Displays. For an affordable tension-fabric display option, vendors are utilizing kits from the Hop Up line of pop up displays. With backbones that consist of collapsible, lightweight aluminum frames and graphics made of knit polyester, Hop Up displays can be set up in minutes. As such, Hop Up kits have been used to display everything from fragrances by Chanel and Armani and the namesake energy drink of Red Bull GmbH, to advertisements for the Discovery Channel and products and services from T-Mobile.
  • Coyote Pop Up Displays. Featuring a sleek yet basic design, the Coyote display has become a choice range of kits among vendors looking for options that are vibrant as well as uncomplicated. With graphic material made of PVC substrate, Coyote kits offer some of the brightest, shiniest colors on the floor. Simple yet effective, the Coyote’s curved and serpentine shapes stand in contrast to the busyness of competing displays on the present-day trade show circuit. Standard sizes range from 8–10 feet in width, but the Coyote is also available in 20-ft. versions that extend into horseshoe and gull-wing shapes.
  • Xclaim Pop Up Displays. The most unique of all pop up displays is undoubtedly the Xclaim, which is distinguished by its grid-like framework and often pyramid shape. Unlike other displays, on which the graphics wrap around the frames like pillow cases, Xclaim graphics are printed on square sheets of fabric that are individually connected at each corner to joints along the grid. The quintessential Xclaim models are the 10 Quad Pyramid Kits #2 and #3, which respectively feature 13 and seven graphics, along with carry bags. Also eye-catching are the Xclaim 8 ft., 3×3 designs of kits #5 and #6, which feature upright, square-shaped, fully visible, collapsible frames with seven graphics each. The Xclaim series even includes a line of compact, three-quad kits in the 2.5-ft., 1×3 range.
  • Embrace Pop Up Displays. One of the simplest yet most vibrant trade show display types is the EmbraceTM pop up line, which vendors love for its easy-to-assemble design, which consists of a collapsible frame with straight edges and either full-fitted or frontal graphics. Dimensions of the Embrace line range from square-shaped 7-ft., 3×3 kits and rectangular 10-ft., 4×3 kits to smaller, thinner 5-ft., 2×3 and 3-ft., 1×3 kits. The simplicity of the Embrace has made it the ideal pop up display for vendors that favor a minimal yet vivid combination of words, colors and images, such as the displays of jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co.

Backlit Displays

backlit displays

Trade show floors are often crowded with displays that compete for attention with differing shapes, heights, lengths and graphic contents, but they all have one common problem: a lack of brightness. Backlit displays solve this problem by taking the emphasis away from elaborate setups and placing it instead on graphics, which are powered by light. APG Exhibits sells two types of backlit displays: curved Backlit Hop Ups, which come in 10-ft. (4×3), 8-ft. (3×3) and 5-ft. (2×2) kits, and Vector Light Boxes, which range in measurement from 3 ft. x 4 ft. to 10 ft. x 8 ft. and come in both square and rectangular shapes. The Backlit display features tension-fabric graphics with LED lights glowing through, which makes it the ideal display type for movies, musicals and sci-fi cable channels.

Multimedia Displays

multimedia displays

Trade shows are all about capturing attention, drawing foot traffic and making impressions that turn those in attendance into clients and customers. To that end, most vendors are simply propping up static forms of advertising via motionless displays. Some vendors, however, are taking things a lot further by utilizing elements of multimedia at trade shows. Central to the multimedia ethos is the incorporation of video into a trade show display, which allows vendors to watch, listen and ultimately learn about a given product or service.

APG Exhibits offers the following types of multimedia trade show displays:

  • Waveline Media Displays. For vendors who wish to screen as well as display products and services, the Waveline makes it possible to show video demonstrations to trade show attendees. In an age where people have grown accustomed to moving imagery and interactivity at every juncture, the ability to view slide shows, DVDs and streaming video is inextricably tied to the consumer process. Waveline kits range in size from 10 to 20 feet and feature single or double-sided graphics, as well as monitor holders that can support screens as wide as 43 inches.
  • iPad Displays. The name says it all: a line of multimedia trade show displays that are designed to feature the popular tablet computer. The iPad line of display kits ranges from curved stands and kiosks to giant coffee cups and free-standing structures.
  • Formulate Designer Series Media Displays. Multimedia meets modernist design in the Formulate series. Depending on the size, a Formulate kit features two or three backboards of varying shapes — square, diagonal, curved, straight — and one or two monitor holders.
  • Vibe Media Displays. For a more compact modernist look, the Vibe pairs a three dimensional backdrop with a monitor kiosk that goes in front. Designed to present boldness and refinement all in one, Vibe media displays seriousness and professionalism to industry leaders at trade shows and conferences.
  • Satellite Media Displays. Combining quaintness with multimedia appeal, Satellite media displays feature curvy canopies and either a monitor kiosk or a large-screen mount. The design conjures the image of an old-fashioned storefront, which has made the Satellite a media display of choice for vendors like Starbucks.

Banner Stands

banner stands

There are times when you need to make your load as light as possible, even when you’re off to set up a display at a trade show. With banner stands, everything you need consists of roughly the same weight and travel space as a poster tube. The concept behind banner stands is one of compactness, where the graphic sheets roll out from a tube and hang by a stand, then roll back in to be transported to the next event. APG Exhibits offers the following types of banner stands:

  • Spring Back. Unfolds from its case and stands with the support of a two-, three- or four-pronged backing spring.
  • Retractable. Rolls out from its tube and stands with the support of a back beam, which connects to beams at the top and bottom of the graphic sheet.
  • Double-Sided. Similar to the retractable, but features graphic displays on both sides.
  • Stretch Fabric. Banner stands with unique shapes, including arched, curved and flared displays — some are even shaped like giant products, such as the Crest toothpaste tube.
  • Telescopic. A vertical, rectangular stretch graphic connected to two side beams that support an upper and lower crossbeam.
  • Extra Wide. Similar to the retractable, but with two back beams instead of one.

Outdoor Displays

outdoor trade show displays

Indoor trade shows are not the only types of events where vendors promote products and services. In the summertime, a lot of events occur alfresco, though different types of displays are often called for in outdoor settings. One of the more obvious types of trade show displays for such events is the pop up tent, which APG sells in 10×10, 10×15 and 10×20 varieties. Flags are another option suited for the outdoors, particularly among vendors who prefer to make things simple yet eye-catching. APG’s line of flag displays are produced in the shape of leaves, bows, darts and feathers, the last of which has been used to great effect for the recognizable CLIF Bar logo.

Hanging Displays


Not all displays need to stand from the floor and mimic the character of signs and walls — some vendors also use displays that hang from above like chandeliers or overhead lights. Made from extruded aluminum and available in round, square, triangular, elliptical and tube shapes, hanging displays are fitted with pillowcase graphics that present the colors, symbols and logos of some of the most prominent brands at today’s trade shows, including Target, Canon, Chevrolet and GoPro.

Premium Exhibits

premium trade show displays

Some of the biggest names on the trade show circuit prefer exhibits that are far grander than the standard pop up or multimedia display. For these companies, premium exhibits make it possible to galvanize the trade show floor with structures that function as distinct showrooms. The most exceptional premium exhibits offered by APG include the following:

  • Fusion. Functioning like superstore lounge areas, APG’s 20 x 20 Fusion displays contain three or booths, monitor mounts, overhead structures of varying shape and up to four counters.
  • Origin. For the more eccentric vendor, the Origin line of premium exhibits offers displays in the form of giant cylinders and funnels, as well as circular compartments, wrap-around walls and arches. Lego has displayed its products in gigantic proportions with a clever customization of the Origin Tower.

Premium exhibits can also be customized with great detail, as seen in the elaborate multimedia showroom-style display of J & J Maintenance, Inc.

Display Accessories


Trade show displays don’t end with the contents of a given kit, since numerous things can be added to make a display even more alluring to consumers and investors. APG sells a variety of table top displays that allow vendors to advertise their products and services in smaller form at virtually any location. Company logos and advertising imagery can also be emblazoned across table top covers, which vendors can drape over display tables of varying size for increased foot traffic and brand recognition. Vendors can further hawk their wares with standalone display podiums, counters and kiosks, which come in as many shapes and styles as there are product categories at a busy trade show.

For more information about the trade show displays in this article, visit the APG Exhibits website today, where you can place an order or request a quote on the wide array of kits in our inventory.

Trade Show Sizes and Types

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1 Response

  1. Brooke McAvoy says:

    I agree that modular truss style displays tend to add a lot of character to a show like this. They also make everything look so much more professional and put together. It is interesting that assembling them is so easy, I thought it would be kind of difficult. Thank you for going over all the options for displays, I will keep these in mind!

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