Exhibition Planning: The Ultimate How-to Guide

It’s hard not to love an exhibition. Whether it’s an art display, a convention, or even a trade show, exhibitions are a fantastic way to get people involved and engaging with your brand, or indeed with a cultural event like an art show.


But, with their varied nature, understanding how to plan an exhibition can seem incredibly daunting. So, to help you out, the team here at Exhibition Centre Liverpool have pulled together a guide to event planning – including the main areas you need to consider during the planning stages, and why these are important.

Keep reading to find out more

How to plan an exhibition:

There’s no hard and fast rule to exhibition planning – each exhibition is inherently different, with their own design challenges and goals. But, there are some constants that should make up the framework of your exhibition plan.


Preparation is a broad term. Rather than a specific step, this covers everything you need to consider right at the beginning of the exhibition planning journey. For example, you should always start your planning early, regardless of the size of your exhibition. This affords you additional time to handle any technological issues, long lead times on equipment, or other problems that crop up.

Aside from giving you more opportunities to resolve issues before they snowball, starting your preparation early gives you time for more research, outreach, and PR efforts. This includes looking at broader themes, like:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is the exhibition for?
  • What potential issues may the exhibition face?
  • How should you market your exhibition?

It also allows you to generate interest, and gauge potential engagement with your topic. This can help you with the exhibition design, as you’ll have a rough idea of venue size, and ensure that your plans meet the needs or wants of your attendees. By preparing early, you could even send out surveys or put out feelers for what potential participants are looking for in an exhibition, and how you can meet the needs of your audience.


Budget. This is the big one, and there’s no getting away from it when you’re planning your exhibition. And there’s also no denying you have a lot of areas you need to balance to keep within your budget whilst managing to create an engaging exhibition design, including:

  • Venue hire.
  • Catering fees (if necessary).
  • Technology and equipment hire (if necessary).
  • Additional personnel costs (including day staff, additional security, etc).
  • Marketing spend.
  • Logistical costs.

Exhibition budgets are dictated by a variety of factors, so it’s vital that you take the time to understand what costs you’re likely to come across, and how much you can allocate on each area. Starting to plan your exhibition early, as previously discussed, has plenty of benefits, one of which could include finding options that fit your exhibition design and budget.

Another benefit of knowing how much you have to spend is that it can actually save you time in the long run by streamlining a lot of your decisions. For example, understanding your budget ensures you’re only looking at options within your price range, especially in areas like catering, marketing, and the venue itself (see more about these topics below).

Top tip – sometimes things don’t always go to plan, so it’s worth considering the option of having a small buffer or allocation in your budget to handle unexpected issues. If you don’t need it, then this could be transferred to pay for a fun extra for your exhibition participants.


One of the biggest decisions you need to make when it comes to exhibition planning is, of course, the venue. This will inform a huge amount of your exhibition design, so you need to make sure you consider all the angles.


Location, location, location – whatever exhibition venue you choose, it needs to be in a prime spot for your attendees. This includes making sure there are plenty of public transport links, and places for people to stay during multi-day exhibitions.

At Exhibition Centre Liverpool for example, Getting Here is made easy as we’re ideally situated within walking distance of several public transport hubs. The Liverpool One bus station serves buses within Merseyside, and cross country coaches, and is only a short walk from the venue. Meanwhile, Liverpool Lime Street station is only a 25 minute walk away, and provides train connections up and down the UK.


Outside of the physical location, you need to consider how accessible your venue is for any attendees. This includes, but is certainly not limited to the following:

  • Wheelchair and mobility aid users: are there ramps at the entrances? Are the lifts wide enough to fit a wheelchair user comfortably? Will your floor plan allow for enough space for people to navigate the exhibition comfortably?
  • Deaf or hard of hearing attendees: do you have hearing loop capabilities at the venue? Are there plenty of written signs and maps? Are your safety settings, like fire alarms, designed to flash as well as make noise?
  • Blind or visually impaired attendees: does the venue have braille on signs or permanent maps? Does the venue have facilities for guide dogs? Is there enough room for people to use mobility canes?
  • Attendees with neurodiverse or additional needs: does the venue have the option of quiet spaces away from the main exhibition? Can you change the lighting or audio settings to be softer? Are signs and maps clear, in easily readable fonts?

There are plenty of ways to make your exhibition more accessible for everyone, and it’s important to think about these during the early planning stages to help pick a venue that works with you to support your participants and attendees.


Another key aspect of choosing your exhibition venue is to understand the size you need. Highly popular exhibitions, like Comic Con Liverpool, need plenty of room for everyone (and everything) to fit – but still need to be comfortable and have spaces for people to take a break from the exhibition.

The size of your venue will also dictate your overall exhibition design. Creating a floorplan is key to fitting in booths, panels, and other exhibition features – but you can’t do that without agreeing on a location first, and understanding the room sizes you have to work with.

Venue features

Lastly, you need to consider what additional features your venue can offer you. This may help you save time and/or money in the future because you can take advantage of existing capabilities within your venue. For example, when choosing an exhibition venue, ask yourself the following:

  • Does the venue have cafes, or catering facilities?
  • Is your venue nearby to other attractions or activities that you could partner with?
  • Does the venue have the right technical capabilities for your needs? If not, can they support external equipment or teams?
  • Are the side rooms, or additional spaces you can use to make your exhibition design more accessible?


Depending on the type of exhibition you’re organising, you will need to consider your catering options.

All exhibitions tend to require at least a nominal amount of catering to ensure your attendees are looked after properly. This could be as simple as making sure you have a variety of drinks available from a bar or hospitality stand, to offering sandwiches and snack foods for attendees to purchase.

Alternatively, you may wish to have a wider range of hot foods available. Most venues offer this service via an in-house provider and you will need to check with them if you wish to bring in external suppliers to host, cook, and sell food and drinks (e.g. street food vans, food market vendors, etc).

Top tip: make sure you consult with your venue to ensure they have the facilities for the type of catering you’re looking for.


When we talk about logistics, we’re typically referring to the management and transportation of goods or equipment. When it comes to exhibition planning, getting your logistics network correct is vital to ensuring you have everything you need at the venue before the exhibition.

As we mentioned above, the location of your exhibition venue matters – but not just for attendees. Your venue also needs to be accessed by equipment teams and logistics managers to ensure everything arrives when (and where) it’s supposed to. For example, large trade shows tend to have multiple booths, each with different screens that need to be in place before the big day.

In addition to these, there is plenty more mundane equipment that needs to be present before the exhibition. Tables and chairs need to be set up in the correct places, and staging needs to be constructed.

You also need to consider the logistics of which type of production services will work for your exhibition. At Exhibition Centre Liverpool, we have a fantastic Production team who can help you with AV technology, lighting, and more.


Part of planning your exhibition is making sure people know about it. So, you need to make sure you’re engaging with attendees via media sources. This could be through social media campaigns, contacting members of the press and/or using PR connections, traditional print advertising – and many more.

Whatever you choose, you need to make sure your marketing plan is appropriate for your audience. For example, an art campaign may perform well on TikTok or other visual media platforms where people are more likely to engage with the content. This is also where you’ll be able to attract a younger audience.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. Some venues may be able to help you with your exhibition marketing. Here at Exhibition Centre Liverpool for example, we have dedicated Marketing Services to provide you with the best promotional services for the region – and plenty of support otherwise. Our team has experience with customer outreach, and plenty of local contacts within the media to boost awareness of your exhibition.


As a final recommendation, you definitely need to include some post-exhibition follow ups with participants and attendees. This is a key part of your overall exhibition strategy, and you shouldn’t leave it to the last minute.

During your planning stages, take some time to create basic questionnaires and feedback forms. These can be further customised where necessary, and distributed to participants after the exhibition. Not only will this help you understand the successful elements of your exhibition, but any pain points can be improved upon for future planning.

Top tip: as part of your post-exhibition plan, why not offer early sign-up or discounts to those who attended your exhibition? This could be enhanced for those who fill out a feedback form as an incentive to get honest and useful results.


Host your next exhibition with Exhibition Centre Liverpool

Looking for the perfect venue to host your next exhibition? Offering plenty of valuable support services like Ticketing and Event Management, contact the team at Exhibition Centre Liverpool to find out how we can help you.

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