There are trade shows and there are events. And while both are sales and marketing activities, they are often different in scope, objectives, and activities. One requires hiring an exhibition company; the other engaging an event company. Simple enough, right? Perhaps not.
One of the biggest mistakes most exhibitors make is not treating a trade show as their own personal event. Sure they can schedule an event outside the trade show, like an awards dinner, sales meeting for clients, golf outing, or offsite speaker. Those are fine. But what if you use your trade show booth space as an opportunity to create an event or hold an activity?
An event, unlike a trade show, means you’re now in charge of a schedule, inviting guests, creating and planning activities, and assigning employees specific responsibilities. If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. It means you’re now in charge of generating traffic to your booth, entertaining/educating your guests, and ensuring the attendees are happy. That said… activities can run the gamut from a professional presenter to an A/R golf challenge.
Getting Started with Vendor Booth Ideas
Having an activity for the sake of an activity is rarely a good idea. Whatever you decide, it has to contribute to your trade show marketing goals. The activity may be designed to generate traffic to sample your new peach salsa or entice medical professionals to watch a video about your surgical software. Start with that goal and then consider your audience, your culture, and the show. A whack-a-mole game may be appropriate if you sell lead generation solutions but inappropriate if you build helicopter rescue equipment.
Successful vendor booth ideas should link the activity with your product or service. Stop to consider how the activity creates engagement. Does that engagement create an atmosphere where a potential client wants to learn more about your company? Being flexible is key. Imagine you manufacture brake pads. Having a branded interactive driving game where trade show attendees compete against one another would not only be fun but also allow you to have conversations about crazy drivers and the importance of safety.
5 Vendor Booth Display Ideas to Attract Attention
LED Video Walls
If you’ve ever seen an LED video wall at a trade show, you know its potential for attracting attention. The WOW Factor can’t be overstated with the right video. With a video wall, it’s not about showing your website or a step-by-step product demo. It’s about entertainment first and education second. Adding LED panels to your booth requires a commitment to designing it into your booth structure and the development of the video. The first is easy. The second takes time (and can be expensive).
The easy choice for most exhibitors is to buy or rent carpet. Just select the color, quality, and padding. And you’re done. But designing printed flooring is the same as designing the graphics for your booth. Printed flooring, when done well, is valuable branding space that always sparks conversations and differentiates your booth from the boring flooring around you.
3D Projection Mapping
3D mapping brings augmented reality into your booth, a cool and innovative touch to any existing design. It’s also a great quick fix for booths with dim, mood lighting, or spaces with interesting structures. Try projecting something entertaining (like folding abstract shapes or dancing gears) or something that directly links to your brand (an artistic rendering of your logo or product blueprints would be a hit).
Scents help marketers tap into more human senses beyond just seeing and hearing. Choose scents that align with your goals. For example, if you want attendees to see your brand or product as one that makes their lives easier, go with a calming vanilla or lavender fragrance. If you’re looking to invoke something more action-oriented, try energizing citrus or mint. It’s all about the right scent and the right amount. Caution… you have neighbors who may not be crazy about smelling sandalwood for three straight days.
Colorful, Clear, and Convincing Graphics
The single most valuable tool to attract and engage attendees to your booth is your graphics. And yet, most exhibit graphics tend to be conservative, cluttered, and confusing. Consider this: What if your booth was a package in a supermarket and your success depended on a shopper stopping, scanning, and selecting your product off the shelf. Are your graphics attractive? And, is the solution you solve obvious and compelling? Your branding matters, but if you design your booth graphics to match your website, then you’ve probably already failed.
Vendor Booth Game Ideas
Whether high-tech or low-tech, nearly everyone enjoys besting friends, colleagues, and perhaps a competitor in trivia. The key is to make it entertaining and not too wonky so that no one feels like a winner. You’ll gather more trade show attendees in your booth with an interactive trivia game where participants can win prizes and be recognized. Smart exhibitors use trivia to identify and increase leads.
Putting or Golfing Games
Despite being a trade show standard for years, putting and golf games still attract a crowd. These can be as simple as a putting green or as interactive as a virtual reality driving range that shows distance, accuracy, and scores. For exhibitors who often have trouble attracting new clients on the show floor, think logistics or shipping companies, for example, golfing games with prizes can entice attendees to the booth, giving the exhibitor an opportunity to share their story.
Augmented or Virtual Reality
These technologies add a high-tech cool factor to exhibitors’ booths. Done well, they let attendees experience products in new, more memorable ways. Virtual reality puts your booth visitors in virtual places in locations and at a scale they can’t in real life. Augmented reality overlays more visual information over the product or visual prompt they see before them. Both AR and VR can help you tell stories and make benefits more explicit.
There’s no denying that a skilled corporate magician will always stop traffic. A professional trade show magician will put together a presentation that will highlight your product´s key benefits and selling points in an entertaining and memorable fashion.
Bean Bag Toss
Bean bag (or cornhole) games have become very popular in recent years. The game is simple to learn and play within minutes. Compared to A/R or other electronic games, the bean bag equipment is inexpensive to brand and rent.
Photo Booth, Engraving, Luggage Tags
Many exhibitors purchase promotional products or giveaways, but it can be challenging to measure their long-term impact. Photo booths, engraving (keychains, etc.), and luggage tags tend to be kept for years. Photos have the added benefit of expanding a company’s social media at an event. Exhibitors and attendees will share the photos using the show’s hashtag and have fun in the process.
Food and beverages are a given at many European trade shows. Less so at North American shows, often because of the cost or restrictive convention hall regulations. However, who can resist the aroma of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies? And the booth serving coffee and espresso… it’s a destination stop for nearly all attendees. The key is to create an environment where attendees want to linger and chat with booth staff, not simply grab and go. For shows like Natural Products Expo, roaming and snacking is the whole goal.
No one expects a concert in your booth unless you sell musical instruments. But having a musician is a guaranteed draw that will get trade show attendees to stop and linger. And just like a magician, a professional show musician will highlight your product´s key benefits and selling points in an entertaining and memorable fashion.
The Power of Fun Trade Show Activities
Trade show activities are always a means to an end. But that “means,” whether it’s fun, educational, immersive, or simply conversational, should be about achieving your trade show marketing goals: Strategy + Planning + Execution = Success. All too often, exhibitors view trade shows in Las Vegas, Orlando, or Chicago as a well-earned vacation and not a business event. Then they’re disappointed when the results don’t match the expense. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be having fun. Trade shows should be an adventure… but not a vacation.
Regardless of the activities, there’s one golden rule to follow when planning your trade show marketing. Don’t expect the show organizers to drive traffic to your booth. The most successful exhibitors schedule meetings, market their presence at the show, contact their customers, and generally do everything possible to ensure that their booth is jammed packed within minutes of the show’s opening. Any additional traffic the show organizers bring to your booth is a bonus. Plan it as an event within your booth that just happens to be at a trade show.
Getting Noticed with Exhibits Northwest
At Exhibits NW, we take a holistic view of your trade show experience – that is, of your trade show success. There is more to it than the architecture of your booth! We help our clients with a wide variety of trade show services to help them feel at home and thrive in the trade show space. Schedule a call today to start dreaming out loud about how you’ll leave an impression on everyone fortunate enough to happen by your next display – from display design to trade show marketing and everything in between!