Our comprehensive guide to exhibiting at Birmingham NEC

This guide is perfect if you:

  • Are an exhibition virgin and need a comprehensive guide to help you through
  • Haven’t exhibited for a while and need a refresher (or confidence boost)

Our comprehensive guide to exhibiting

  • 10 top tips on what you need to know about exhibiting
  • Guide to types of exhibition stand
  • How to write an exhibition brief
  • Download our essential exhibition checklist

Whether you are exhibiting for the first time or haven’t exhibited in a while, planning, picking an exhibition company to work with through to running the big day itself is a big responsibility and can be daunting. You’ll find everything here you need to plan and deliver the perfect exhibition, whatever you budget or the type of business you are in. We’ve shared our top tips on everything you need to consider, how to avoid common pitfalls and great downloadable resources to help you every step of the way.  

Need a price for your exhibition stand?

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Key Exhibition Facts. In the UK, there are:


exhibition venues

exhibitions hosted annually for trade and public audiences

exhibitors participating in these events annually

Keep your messaging simple

A team that understands your needs

You may only exhibit once a while, maybe you have never exhibited and feel overwhelmed at the prospect. What you want in an exhibition company is an excellent creative team whom you can trust along with succinct project updates that clearly explain what is happening and when. In short, a team who can bring to life your vision and put together an exhibition stand that suits your needs and budget.

At Motive Exhibitions, we know what we’re doing and we don’t need to bamboozle you with unfathomable words to prove how good we are. Our approach is simple:

  • Creative ideas that suits your brand and budget
  • No lingo, no jargon, just straightforward advice that you can understand and trust
  • We make your job as easy as possible and will tell you how it is, no grey areas that make you feel silly to ask questions, no assumptions you should know this stuff already
  • Updates you can give to your boss without the need for a technical encyclopedia to decipher
  • Good management and clear details keep projects on track
  • An end result that gives you the confidence to do future events and makes you the office star
  • Liaise with the team who create, manage and deliver  
IPL Exhibition stand 2021 | Motive Exhibitions

“Organising an exhibition at the Stoneleigh exhibition centre on top of my day to day workload had the potential to create a lot of stress/worry so I reached out to Motive to support with the logistics. The team at Motive were brilliant and helped us all the way through the process wherever they could, they made us a stand that grabbed attention for our targets and all for an affordable budget. On the day of the event, the team couldn’t have done more to support where possible – I’d highly recommend their work & the team at Motive for any future event”

IPL Global

Expert insights from the Motive Exhibition Team

 We have built and dismantled stands for dozens of businesses who have chosen to exhibit at the Birmingham NEC.  


  • Easy to get to as the most central point of the UK
  • Well known venue so will attract a lot of footfall from potential customers
  • Free parking for exhibitors and builders during build and breakdown
  • Free shuttle bus between car parks and exhibition halls
  • Perfect if you have large machinery you want to showcase, as the NEC has the space and logistics to manage it
  • Huge floorspace with all stands on the main show floor thoroughfare so lots of face-to-face opportunities
  • Free Wi-Fi access to exhibitors and exhibition visitors
  • A mix of stand space available to book from space only to flexible shell schemes
  • Huge range of hotel rooms to suit any budget available close to the exhibition halls


  • It is fairly expensive
  • As with most exhibition spaces, you must book early particularly if you want a large space to showcase a large product
  • There are no storage facilities available at the venue, so you will have to organise a separate space for storing packing cases etc. if needed
  • Logistics – you will need to bring your own trollies, pump trucks or porters to move equipment if you are not using an exhibition company as the venue does not hire them
  • As the space is huge and mostly used by large trade fairs and shows, it is possible that smaller brands could be overlooked but with clever stand design and a good exhibition company behind you, it is still possible to make a splash
IPL exhibition stand build | Motive-Exhibitions | Custom-Build

Types of exhibition stands you can book

Whatever your budget or needs, there is an exhibition stand that will help you stand out from the crowd and connect with your audience. Take a look at the different options below.

What to consider when exhibiting at trade shows

The first thing you need to do is to decide what you want to achieve and weigh this up against the cost of exhibiting. With floor space somewhere between £250m2 and an eye watering £1250m2, you really want to get this nailed. 

The first question we’d ask you is, do you know who your customer actually is? Work out who you want to talk to and what you want from the show. Is it 50 great new leads? Or selling £20,000 pounds worth of widgets? Or meeting 10 people who place orders? Whatever it is, you must have a number, a way of measuring, a target. You might not hit it at the first show, but unless you know what you are aiming for you will never really know whether it was a success.

You will need to budget for the stand space and the exhibition stand itself. Sure, your team can take a cheap roller banner and some table clothes along with a few old bits of furniture that you’ve got in the office, but is that the lasting memory you’d like prospective customers to have? If you decide to exhibit and pay for space, it is important that you make the most of it as you will have a much better chance of hitting your targets and getting everything you want from exhibiting.

Create a 3D experience
Motive Exhibitions Team

Looking for an exhibition partner?

Every exhibition stand we create is completely bespoke and designed around your prospective customers. We work with you to create an inspiring and unique experience that will connect people with your brand. We optimise clever designs to create immersive experiences and spaces to meet and greet, which are tailored to your budget and needs.

Let us transform your ideas into an inspirational exhibition space!

How to write the perfect exhibition brief

When you decide to exhibit, you will need to make some key decisions before you start the process of designing your exhibition stand. We’ve worked with growing SMEs, specialist brands and household names who were all in the position you are now. In our article we share the details that make the difference between a good exhibition and a truly spectacular one. Download our guide to get all the information you’ll need to get your brief underway. 

modular exhibition stands that can be reused and reconfigured


I’ve not done an exhibition stand before, can you help project manage it?

We’re only as good as our last job. Our reputation relies on us making you look good, that’s why you’ll work with the same friendly team throughout. Whether you need lots of help or a little bit, we take it in our stride to make you as comfortable and confident as possible 

We keep things simple for you, seeing the problems before they happen and dealing with them, whether that’s through knowledge about specific exhibition halls, off-the-cuff comments from your manager or unexpected changes to how an exhibition is running. 

We’re lucky to have clients take us with them when they change jobs and continue to invest bigger budgets for grander exhibition stands as their events become a bigger part of their marketing activity.

How do I know you have the capabilities?

If you’ve Googled ‘Exhibition designers’ or similar, you’ll probably found yourself presented with the biggest and swishiest exhibition outfits in the business. If you’ve looked at their portfolio or had a conversation with them and feel a little out of your depth from the language, exhibition terminology and the budget you’ll need to work with them, you might be wondering where else to look.

We sit comfortably in the middle and we are more than happy here. It allows us to combine experience, excellent creative design with personal straightforward service to make you feel comfortable and confident rather than overwhelmed from the start. We’re always happy to provide examples from previous exhibitions we have created that have similar requirements, industries and budgets so that you can get a good idea of what we can do before we start. 

Want to know what it’s like to work with us? We’re happy for you to talk to a client who is in a similar position on their experience.

How will you keep my project on budget?

Have you ever worked with an exhibition designer and builder who was very reasonable but at the end of the project your tummy was in knots when the final bill came in? Did you think everything was included and then there was a flurry of extra unexpected costs because they said “it’s industry-standard not to be included?”

We’ve heard a whole load of horror stories over the years. We also know that if we want to keep you as a customer in ten years time, you need to know what you’re signing up for, otherwise you won’t come back, and that’s no fun!

There are two things that keep a project on budget

  • A good brief – you can find out how to write one here with a free download 
  • A clear price that states it includes everything you have requested in your brief at the outset – if you want extra’s later on, you’ll be able to warn your boss before you speak to your exhibition designers
  • Would you like more information on  the  exhibition lingo. Debunk  the terminology and read our A-Z of   Exhibitions.
Can we get a proposal and visual before committing?

We can help you before you even get to writing a proposal. 

Speaking to exhibition companies takes time. They are likely to ask you to put it all down in an email and then it will be interpreted by different companies in different ways. You’ll end up comparing apples and pears.

We suggest reading through our document and download  to help write the perfect brief. It’s a savvy way to save time and write your brief once so that your chosen exhibition shortlist responds to the same request.

We always provide a full proposal and visuals. We work with every client to produce a visual that they are excited to see built and will meet their needs.

How far ahead do I need to start planning for an exhibition?

We are often asked: “How far ahead should I start planning for a  big trade show?”. For most businesses, exhibiting is a big investment. There are a few points to consider, and to help you, we’ve written a blog with our thoughts on how far ahead you should be planning

How much do exhibition stands cost?

Several factors will influence the cost of your exhibition stand:

  • Size of the space you have booked
  • Whether you anticipate your event to be a one-off exhibition or whether you need an exhibition stand you can reuse and reconfigure multiple times for different venues
  • What do you want to achieve from exhibiting?
  • Have you considered hiring your stand rather than buying it?
  • We will collaborate with you to establish a plan and design and work with your budget
What types of exhibition stands are there?

There are lots of different types of exhibition stands including modular exhibition stands, shell scheme stands and pop-up displays.  The two most popular are:

Modular exhibition trade show stands

Either referenced as exhibitions or trade shows. A modular stand is an exhibition system comprising different blocks that can be reconfigured to fit different exhibition spaces, without compromising on the graphics. 

Looking for an exhibition space without sides? You need an Island site – as the name suggests it has no sides and usually you can walk around every side.

Shell scheme exhibition stand

A shell scheme refers to the preassigned space that you are allocated by the exhibition organisers. This is a completely blank canvas ready for you to plan and create your exhibition space.

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Get in touch

 If you are not sure which type of stand might be best for your needs, please get in touch and we will be happy to talk through all the options available to you.

Motive Exhibitions, 3 Orion Court, Ambuscade Road, Colmworth Business Park, Eaton Socon, St. Neots, PE19 8YX

01480 597 444  |  hello@motiveexhibitions.co.uk

Comprehensive Guide to Exhibiting at Birmingham NEC 5