If you’re an event planner, you want to ensure your exhibitors’ success. Successful booths mean high ROI, and high ROI means happy exhibitors. Happy exhibitors come back again next year and allow the cycle to continue.
If you’re an exhibitor, lots of qualified traffic at your booth means more sales and more opportunities to spread your gospel. You want to make sure the event attracts your ideal customer, that they’ll stop by your booth, and that you’re poised to help them see how your product or service meets their needs.
While some exhibition models make it as easy as inviting prospects to come, many rely on pre-event marketing and live, strategic engagement. In the latter case, maximizing your opportunities entails a mix of good booth design, interactive exhibits, social media, and novelty.
In this article, we’ll cover over 60 ways to boost your booth performance:
- Whose responsibility it is to keep booths busy
- How to build momentum pre-event
- Awesome trade show ideas
- Exhibit stand attractions
- Booth ideas for events
- Vendor booth decorating ideas
- Smart touchpoints
- Tips to get more conversions
Whose Responsibility Is It to Keep Booths Busy?
Booth traffic requires the effort of two groups of people: the event planner and the exhibitor.
The event planner is charged with ensuring that exhibitors and attendees are mutually curated to foster the most qualified connections. But getting the right people to the event is only the first step.
They must also ensure that the attendees make it to the exhibit hall and spend time engaging with the exhibitors. There are a number of ways they can do this:
- Use interactive drivers, such as gamification or scavenger hunts, to encourage participation
- Book exhibit hall hours strategically to avoid competing events
- Provide education to vendors on how to best reach attendees before and at the event
- Adopt smart matchmaking apps and other interaction-driving tech
- Offer viable sponsorship opportunities for added marketing and attendee engagement
- Enable pre-event meeting scheduling between exhibitors and attendees (and relevant data to help the former making decisions to meet or not)
- Think about complementary services and offerings when playing your floor plan, and be cognizant of competitors
The vendors or exhibitors share the onus of keeping the booth busy, and there are a number of strategies for ensuring a good ROI:
- Select events that draw the crowd you want to attract
- Use the attendee list to reach out to prospective customers and existing clients
- Design your booth to stand out and draw a crowd, but also to tell your story
- Train your team to develop engagement skills to make those conversations convert to sales opportunities
- Use engagement techniques to hold the attention of the audience
- Pre-arrange meetings with those who are looking for your products or services
It’s the responsibility of the event organizer to set vendors and exhibitors up for success, but the latter has a responsibility to make the most of the opportunity by coming prepared and being strategic.
Exhibitors: Build Momentum Pre-Event
Before the event begins, you should have access to a registered attendee list.
It’s likely the planner has some pretty strict rules about what you can do with that list. Many limit the email sends, as they don’t want attendees’ inboxes to be jammed with spam. For this reason, be strategic in your approach.
Keep the following things in mind:
- Scan the attendee list for current customers. Arrange meetings, appreciation cocktails or loyalty touchpoints.
Remember, current customers are your easiest sell and source for referrals.
- Don’t randomly spam all attendees with your one and only contact allowance. Use the data available to see if you can’t spot your ideal customer. Then, send them a tailored message.
- Take to social media and announce to people that you’ll be in attendance. Create a contest they’ll want to be a part of. You can even give away tickets to the conference.
- Help market the conference or event. The organizers will appreciate it, and they might even share your social media posts.
- Start conversations on social media using the event hashtag to engage prospective attendees and promote the event.
- Provide worthwhile resources for attendees. Share blog posts, tips, and videos with useful information about the event and the host city.
Event Planners: Awesome Trade Show Ideas
There are several areas in which you can help your exhibitors be more successful. The tactics of smart matchmaking, gamification, and wayfinding drive beneficial introductions and traffic to your trade show floor. Make sure you pair them with a way to collect data and analyze it so you can report back to your exhibitors later to show them ROI.
The goal for any exhibition is to make valuable, profitable connections. Exhibitors want to connect with people who are in the right demographic and who are in the market to buy.
You can use technology to arrange that perfect meeting. Many events are now using smart matchmaking tech, which matches the needs of the audience with the services or products of the vendors. The app can then use things like beacon technology to “introduce” the two or scheduling features to facilitate meeting arrangements ahead of time.
This type of smart matchmaking makes the time spent at the event more productive and efficient for both sides.
Gamification goes a long way to drive desired actions. If you want to increase traffic on your show floor, adding a gamified experience can do that.
Gamification uses game mechanics and competition to spur people on to collect points and level up. Game mechanics are what make games so addictive and compelling – things like competition, a sense of progression, and a mix of short and long-term gratification.
If you want to drive more traffic to your event floor, give each booth visit or vendor connection a point value. You can even create point milestones to give people a sense of progression or accomplishment. Badges are a great example of this. Create badges for seeing a predetermined number of vendors, like ‘nimble networker’ for 10 connections, ‘meeting marksman’ for 20, and ‘uncanny connector’ for 40. Make badge-winners eligible for things others aren’t to add another layer of incentive to play the game.
Add a social element to the game by displaying a leaderboard on the show floor and in the event app. Seeing the top networkers get that recognition will motivate others to compete for a spot. Lastly, publicize the exciting things going on with your gamification and the exhibit hall to generate even more of a buzz. Add bonus points for social shares, and get your vendors involved by offering them the opportunity to sponsor games or challenges.
When attendees don’t know where they’re going, it can be very frustrating for them and for your vendors who are waiting for an audience. That’s why improving the wayfinding at your next event can have a big effect on decongesting the traffic on in the exhibition space.
Some people like GPS-powered maps, while others prefer static images. You might even use a chabot to help direct them. The best wayfinding solutions likely incorporate several of these ideas.
Show attendees with particular interests likely have no interest in meandering the show floor. Shows like The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), which brings together music and sound professionals for networking, have an audience with specific meeting goals. The event organizers worked to design an app that would help attendees define the most productive path from one booth to another so they could move efficiently between meetings.
Vendors and Trade Show Promotion: How to Get People to Come to Your Booth
Getting attendees to come to your booth when you have a large budget takes little more than creating a Hollywood-esque experience. But what do you do if that sort of extravaganza isn’t in your budget? The key to driving booth traffic on a low-budget is user experience and memorability.
Regardless of your budget, here’s an array of ideas to help you make an impact at trade shows and exhibitions:
Engagement and Interactive Booth Games
Games and competitions make getting to know you fun, and help to make a big impression on any budget.
Ask everyone who stops by your booth to drop a business card into the fishbowl and come back later for the prize draw, where the prize can be anything from a bottle of wine to a trial of your product.
The game collects contacts and encourages attendees to return later on to see if they have won a prize, giving you a second opportunity to engage them.
Social Media Competition
If you want to focus your booth on serious content, you can instead hold a competition on social media to win your products or services. Anyone attending your booth could use a QR code for easy submission, and they get a bonus entry for being there in person!
Focus your budget on a larger prize as a giveaway and collect details and information for potential leads and prospects to follow up on. A simple sign-up to an email list could merit one entry into the draw, but you could offer bonus entries for signing up for services such as newsletters or updates.
Create an info hunt contest with the potential of a large prize. Give attendees questions that they can answer easily with company info before visiting the booth (i.e. with information found on the company website or YouTube channel).
Not only will this help the person become more familiar with the company and product, but it provides additional touch points for you to engage with them before speaking to them at the event.
Encourage them to bring their completed forms/questionnaires to the booth where they will be registered for a giveaway of an amazing prize. The final prize needs to be something worth all the effort, such as airline tickets or a getaway.
A miniature golf course works really well as a showcase of signage and branding. You can offer prizes for holes in one, amazing shots, a lucky hole, and for just being a good sport. Make prizes relevant to you and your brand in some way so that it’s more memorable and reinforces your marketing objectives.
Credit: Putting Edge Ltd
There are a lot of ways to bring social media into the exhibition. Encourage people to follow you and share a secret clue or a special codeword, then tell people to take that codeword and come to the booth for a special prize.
Check-in For The Win
Get attendees to call even more attention to your event booth by offering a “check-in for the win” contest. The idea behind this game is to leverage social sharing to generate a buzz about your booth.
If someone checks in at your booth on social media and uses the event hashtag (or your hashtag), give them a special prize or enter them into a draw for something spectacular.
Exhibition Stand Attractions and Activities
Another way to get people to your booth is to ensure there’s something exciting going on and advertising it as such. Here are a few ideas that bring the crowds.
You don’t have to be a performing monkey but entertaining attendees makes you more memorable and creates a more relaxed and fun atmosphere.
Bring your booth to life with hired entertainment. These entertainers don’t just excite the audience, they become a vital part of your demo crew. Think about those late night infomercials with the over-the-top personalities and have some fun replicating that in a lighthearted, but above all informative way.
A cheap bubble machine can work wonders, and we all revert back to kids when the bubbles are in the air. This childish idea can draw people in and also add some whimsical fun to your booth, which is perfect if you have a cheery brand image.
A magician, card, or urban trickster can add a wow factor and leave a lasting impression, especially with tricks that guests haven’t seen before. The magic doesn’t have to stop at drawing a crowd; adding an interactive element can make for a truly memorable booth experience.
Offer a relaxing mini massage at your booth so that attendees can take a break, unwind, and feel comfortable which will make them associate these feelings with your brand. Generally, you can have professional masseurs come in exchange for some signage of their services at your booth. This works as long as the two brands can complement each other rather than compete.
Brand Ambassador Stories
Contact people who are already speaking highly of your products or services, and ask them to participate in the product demo and speak about their experience. You can also make them part of a panel discussion allowing them to tell their story if you have any stage time.
Have you traveled through Minneapolis lately? The airport has recognized the modern traveler’s needs to stay connected. They’ve upgraded the airport with individual iPads for workstations, as well as a way to order food or catch up on the latest sitcom.
Leverage this precedent to attract tech savvy prospects (or even those who just want to check in on their social channels). Exhibitors who set up a technology bar with plugs to recharge devices give people a reason to stay as they power up. Creating an environment for clients and potential clients to relax at the booth makes attendees more receptive to talking to you about your company or product.
Your ‘R&R lounge’ will bring in the crowd when you offer charging stations, comfortable seating, soft lighting, beverages, and other items to comfort a fatigued attendee. They get admission to this exhibit hall oasis in exchange for a chat with a rep or an email log-in.
For a twist, use exclusivity as a driver by pinging your ideal customers on the event app and inviting them to join the ‘guest list.’
Workspace and Plugs
A similar draw is to turn your event booth into a workspace with plugs and adapters. Most attendees are balancing work and their personal lives. Even at an event that is dedicated to fun, they may need to do some work or check in.
Providing them with a comfortable and functional place to do it can keep them on the exhibit floor instead of trudging back to their rooms.
The trick is to create an exchange around the experience so they don’t just use your space and leave without engaging with you. One way around that is to ask for people to sign up with their email for access to the space. Another is to ask people to post about you in social media using the event hashtag (or another one of your choosing) to use the space.
If you have a major product or service launch, you can save it for a trade show event and announce it at your booth. Encourage people to livestream it and they can be among the first to announce it. This honor alone can drive a lot of people. Just make sure you market the product launch and encourage people to be among the first to share it.
You can let your technology do the talking by allowing visitors to experience your technology through live demos at the booth. This is a great opportunity for new product launches or to display and troubleshoot products based on audience demand.
Different areas of the booth can allow innovation to shine. Customers will appreciate being able to take a hands-on approach through interacting with the product and asking questions of the experts.
Live Knowledge Sharing
Demos draw a crowd, but just because you don’t have a product that fits a demonstration, doesn’t mean you can’t use this drive at your trade show booth.
Create mini-sessions where you tell people how to do something that involves your product or service. For instance, if you sell marketing automation, consider a mini seminar on how to create your personal platform or build an audience.
Branded swag is still going strong! Promotional items, such as t-shirts or thermal mugs that keep drinks hot or cold are still go-to giveaways for exhibitors and snapped up by visitors.
Popular freebies draw people to a stand like nothing else. A great example of this was Cisco at the 2016 Spiceworld conference. The company gave out mini light-up, branded lightsabers. They appealed to their demographic and were the talk of the conference with everyone asking booth visitors where they had gotten them!
Before choosing swag, make sure you understand the rules for exhibitors. Is food allowed? What limitations are there? A well-selected piece of swag can draw quite a crowd and have attendees hunting for you all over the expo hall.
Attendees love free food and drinks, but you don’t have to produce food to use this concept. All sorts of samples are intriguing, just look at the success of all of those monthly boxes people subscribe to.
Check out how this exhibitor made sampling a major part of the booth design to attract visitors. The stand design serves up a bar layout with fridge and display behind the tasting area. They even fit in a flat screen TV for product videos or entertainment.
With many attendees eager to bolster their own personal brands through regular posting on social media, photo booths can work incredibly well.
Photo booths can be a participatory activity, an ice-breaker, and a way to capture attendees’ attention. A well-branded, well-placed photo booth can be the perfect marketing trifecta for a successful booth.
Interesting backdrops are a good investment as well. They’re easy to transport and set up, and can be reused in various parts of the event. Take an image series and use it to create an animation. Use a smart screen to create a ‘selfie mirror.’ Consider using a green screen for background versatility.
Frames and filters are a creative and clever way to include event information or hashtags on shared photos.
Your photo booth needn’t be limited to a flat 2D background either. Create an interesting vintage feel with upcycled goods. You can use frames, old lighting, textiles, lace and vintage furniture and for a professional looking set!
Trade shows and exhibitions are tiring, especially if attendees are aiming to stay all day. Food and drinks are always popular.
Trade Info for Sustenance
Require attendees to pay for items with contact details. An email could be worth a beverage and snack, while an email and number could be exchanged for a meal. Let people purchase items with social posts that mention you. Otherwise, you could just ask people to sign up or leave their contact details in order to get open bar access.
Popular exhibition-friendly consumables include bottles of water, bags of popcorn, protein or granola bars, miniature foods, and depending on the type of event, cocktails and glasses of wine.
Brand the Packaging
For added value, brand the packaging to add brand awareness and encourage more traffic. Thirsty attendees will see where their peers got the bottle of water and will actively seek you out, adding to your contact / lead list and helping to justify the expense of the service.
Worried you might not be the only one feeding the masses? Make sure you stand out by offering vegan options, sustainable ingredients, or even a healthier alternative, such as antioxidant-infused chocolate.
Vendor Booth Decorating Ideas
Your booth design and decorating can say a lot about your services or brand as a whole so keep these ideas and booth examples in mind:
A bold color scheme can draw the eye and make people look at your booth first. Bright colors can be an excellent assist in the competition for attention, They tend to appear more inviting or welcoming and are harder to ignore.
Living Walls/Art Installations
These can be easy to create on a low budget, as you can create living walls yourself, and they add extra depth and dimension to your booth. A live art installation also intrigues attendees and would offer a unique photo opportunity for attendees to have pictures taken with the model or subject.
Theming done correctly can cause a stir, particularly if it relates to your brand message. It doesn’t have to break the budget; the key point here is to commit to it! Think of small, quirky details and you will definitely leave an impression.
If you have a larger budget, consider a larger theme. This stand was designed for a real estate developer who wanted to introduce one of their latest projects, “Colors of Venice,” which is where the boat idea came from. The stand’s base is sandy and blue themed while the boat looks like it will sail off. The attendees can climb up on top or go into the decks to look at models of the upcoming project more closely.
Adding some bean bags, beach chairs, or camping chairs can be a cost-effective lounge or seating idea, which is always welcome to attendees who have been walking for hours.
Creating a lounge encourages people to congregate and offers you an opportunity to talk to them, get them interested in your products or services, and potentially make a sale.
LED Chandeliers and Lighting
Lighting effects can be very noticeable, particularly if they change color.
This booth has a seating area, double height backdrop and ceiling décor, which are branded with the company logo, colors, and message. The large backdrop is used for both digital and printed displays to sell the products and business at the exhibition, giving it function and form.
Lighting is a powerful tool that can change the mood and atmosphere of your booth. When used on a smaller scale, it is fairly budget friendly. Use lighting to highlight your products and make them noticeable from afar. If you have a small space, try to pick one element and focus on that rather than overcomplicating things by using a lot of different lighting effects.
This exhibition stand allows attendees to venture upstairs to different rooms and lounges where the exhibitor is showcasing their products in action, which not only creates a unique way of making their experience memorable but also allows attendees to resonate with the display and consider the products for their everyday lives.
The upper deck is designed in a similar way to a tree house (and features an actual tree!) which could be accessed from different sides of the stand to allow for a lot of attendees at once.
If you have a lot of space to work with, this can be a unique and adaptable idea that is fairly self-contained (although tricky to set up).
It’s particularly useful if you are a company trying to showcase a variety of different products or services at once. The modular design lends itself to different unique spaces. You can play this up with glass walls or walkways.
This giant unit is connected and forms two levels that are accessible from within to allow you a vast showcasing space.
Credit: Boulyguy, BudeContainerizedSolutions
Modular Light Up
This modular idea allows you to change colors throughout the event to accommodate certain moods or to get attention. It is highly adaptable, and the way it is built means you can create interesting or different shapes to suit the space or your needs. This double height booth also has the signage front and center so that it is illuminated for all to see.
You can use interlocking cardboard segments that connect the furniture inside to the outer stand itself. The design adds height and dimensions to the booth. The printed board is simple and effective. This buildable idea could be adapted to suit different dimensions or extra supported height if necessary, although it probably wouldn’t suit walkable areas. This design would be particularly popular for brands or exhibitions with a sustainability or eco focus. Once dismantled, some of it could be used again for future event furniture or quirky seating.
For bold statements and big budgets, high custom builds can be an excellent integration for your stand design. This overhanging roof looks professional and extends the branding and colors to create the appearance of a branded space without sacrificing openness.
Giant billboards are simple but effective. This interesting booth mixes things up with their signage and levels by featuring branded barriers, temporary canopies and large billboards, appealing to attendees in a variety of different ways as they look and interact with the stand.
Credit: Skyline Xtreme Xhibits
Faux Outdoor Setting
At the Vine expo, this booth design incorporated the vineyard element to their wine-related booth. Notice the crosshatch plants on the structure above attendees’ heads. They incorporated their own signage in between. They tied the high décor with the low-living wall and printed wall designs, accentuated by the lighting. This idea gives the same intimate feel of visiting a real vineyard and walking between the vines but with a modern, abstract quality.
Credit: Trade Show Explorer, Vineexpo
Attendees enjoy seeing outdoor elements make their way inside. Here’s another example, on a smaller scale using a garden pergola. Other elements that fit this idea are live walls, garden furniture, and grass mats or carpet (also shown here.)
Comfortable and familiar atmospheres evoke trust and draw people to you, which is why chairs, seating, and lounge areas work well as an exhibition idea. This showcase turns the entire stand into a chic, rustic bedroom, and it will have attendees wishing for their comfy place.
Showcase your design talents in unique ways, as this interior designer did when letting her booth and work speak for her at Toronto’s Interior Design Show 2017.
Credit: Trish Knight use image from here
Eye-candy Design or Illusion
Incorporate the weird and wacky into your booth and get attendees talking. Illusions, such as trompe l’oeil, effects make the booth very memorable. You can also incorporate a prize wheel for an eye-catching design.
Pallets are a favorite DIY option because they can be so design diverse. From furniture to event entertainment, they are now making their way into exhibitions as a unique, rustic way of displaying products, signage or artwork.
This exhibition booth leaves an open feeling and allows attendees to walk around freely and the mini seating area makes it feel more welcoming to encourage guests to stay.
Appeal to curiosity by enclosing your booth so that attendees have to enter or get closer to see what is going on. This neon party idea is fun and engaging, leaving attendees with something to showcase once they leave your booth so others are signposted to come and investigate.
The tent offers an alternative booth option to shell scheme, but either way, secrecy can get attendees coming to you. It is important to make sure that you are worth the effort, so there should be incentives or ideas that add value when inside your booth so that word of mouth spreads.
Credit: Beauty Day Girls Spa & Fun
Smart Touchpoints and Social Media Booth Ideas
Any social media effort incorporated into your exhibition marketing should be targeted. While you may use things like hashtags to find your event audience on social media, it’s important to do more than simply tell them to visit your booth.
Social ads, unlike hashtags, give you the ability to segment your audience so that a specific group sees your message. It will also give you insights as to who clicked through.
Using a social ad is ideal to drive traffic, but if you do go this route, do more than simply give your booth number. Use the platform to give attendees a valuable reason to come to your booth, and target the messaging to the audience you most want there.
Ask Questions: Hot-topic Questions on Social
Start a discussion by asking hot-topic questions on social media. They can be industry-related or just fun ‘this or that’ options. Let them see your personality and they’ll be more interested in meeting you at your booth.
Whenever possible, use a number pneumonic to help attendees remember where to find you. For instance, let’s say you’re in booth 867. Any Gen Xer will tell you that’s the beginning of ‘Jenny’s number.’ Instilling that in your audience’s head will ensure they’ll be singing that song (or reciting your memory aid) all day. Not a bad thing for your booth.
How can you turn your booth sales into a charity giving event? Make it known that a portion of the proceeds goes to your favorite charity. Cause marketing goes a long way – and it’s for a good cause!
This tactic can be used to sway people on the fence to purchase as their money will only be eligible to be part of the charity giving if they act at the event.
Buy Premium Ads on the Mobile Event App
If the event has a mobile event app, a good investment could be banner or premium ads within the app. That way, attendees won’t have to remember your booth number. A reminder of it will be front-and-center each time they open their app.
15 Tips to Get More Conversions
Getting traffic to the exhibit floor is an important part of the process, but converting that traffic into sales opportunities is what makes it worthwhile.
As a planner, helping your exhibitors have more success in their booths and more foot traffic will also make your event more successful as they will decide to come back and possibly invest more with you next year.
Know, Like and Trust
People want to do business with those they know, like, and trust so the first word out of a salesperson’s mouth when someone stops by a booth shouldn’t be anything about the product or service.
Instead, they need to establish rapport and a common connection. Ask the visitor about themselves, where they’re from, and what they’re enjoying about the event.
Listen and Apply
Often people will tell you what their problems are in a subtle way. Sometimes it comes out without you realizing it. For instance, you may ask them how they’re enjoying the show. They tell you they like it but have barely had any time to enjoy it because the office keeps calling with questions. For a vendor that sells productivity software, this type of confidence can be gold.
Restraint will help you retain the trust. Instead of going in for a hard sell, wait for them to ask what you sell, and then tell them you help extraordinarily busy people get more control of their day so they don’t have to be drowning in work. Now you’ve just made a connection.
Keep Them There
Give qualified attendees a reason to spend time in your booth developing that knowledge, trust, and positive impression of you. The longer they are there, the more time you have to build a connection and get them more interested in what you have to offer. Use that time to learn more about them and how best to market to them – and to introduce the next step in the process.
Besides, when they’re talking to you, they’re not talking to the competition, and having them there will make your booth look more popular, making others wonder what they’re missing.
Set Up Appointments with Prospects Ahead of Time
Exhibitors should scan the event attendee list ahead of time and arrange meetings with prospects who will be there. Prospects are more likely to show up at the booth if you set an appointment before the event.
Don’t Forget Current Clients
Invite current clients to the booth and then have a special thank you gift waiting. Not only will it delight the clients, it will impress potential clients when they see how current clients are treated. They’ll want to be a part of it.
Attract the Ideal Client/Customer
Many exhibitors opt for really cool swag, but you should aim at creating a campaign that brings the right people to the booth to begin with. If allowed by the organizer, drip marketing before the event can help create interest and buzz and send the type of people who will buy to your booth.
You don’t want to tie up your sales team’s time with tire kickers unless you’re there just for exposure and to get your name out.
Make it Comfortable
A comfortable booth will entice people to stay. If your product has a sales cycle longer than five minutes, this will benefit you. Remove long tables where your salespeople stand behind them and hand out brochures. Today’s successful booths are open and inviting. Think lounge style.
Use a Giveaway Attendees Will Notice
Especially if your sales strategy involves a time commitment from your prospects, offer a good incentive for sticking around for the process. Give people something they’ll be tempted to put on or use on the exhibit floor. Other attendees will stop them and ask them where they got it. And then presto! Instant crowd.
But make sure you have a way to tie that swag into what you offer. Since you’re giving them something, they’ll feel obligated to listen to what you have to say for a hot second, so make it good and pique their interest.
Use Customers and Social Proof
You can be very convincing as a salesperson, but nothing convinces others like someone who doesn’t work for the company. Ask customers to stop by, give them the gift mentioned above, and then introduce them to a prospect at your booth and step out of the way.
Glowing recommendations will create sales. Create connections and let them work for you.
Get Out from Behind the Booth
The best thing you can do in your business for potential clients is to be helpful. Get out from behind your booth. Walk the floor. Be helpful. But do so in branded attire. Even if you never mention your product, people will associate your help with your business.
Test Drive Before Going Green
Before attending any event and getting completely set up, make sure you do a complete walkthrough of your booth plan. This should include talking through the booth look and feel, giveaways, collateral, attendees, and (most importantly) all presentations and/or demos that may take place in your booth.
Taking a good, high-level look at the months-long work and planning leading up to the event is key to ensuring your branding and messaging is carried through all areas of your booth and presentation.
Be prepared. You will not likely not have time hours before the show floor opens to redo a presentation or hunt down a good printer to get copies of materials you forgot to print out before you arrived.
There’s nothing worse than walking through a trade show floor and seeing empty booths, or booths with way too many staff members lurking around and not enough prospects engaging. Be sure you’re sending the RIGHT amount of team members to each event you exhibit at, and that they are the most capable to work a booth for the long hours required.
Trade shows can seem like all fun and games when the planning is taking place, but once you hit the show floor, everyone on the team needs to remember you are there for work, and not play. (Well, maybe some play…) Having the right people in your booth can make or break the quick impression people get when stopping by your booth.
Qualify Your Prospects
One thing to keep in mind when attending trade shows is quality. It’s easy to get sucked into the game of generating maximum traffic, but it’s important to remind your team members that you’re there to talk with quality prospects.
If trade shows are based on a cost-per-contact, you’ll want to make sure you’re engaging with and drawing in people who are most likely to interact with your brand or buy your service.
Find out by asking non-intrusively if those stopping by your booth are interested in your brand (or have even heard of it). If not, ease into a conversation about who you are and what you do. Ask them what they do in order to discover whether they may be a potential future customer or perhaps even a partner, and to determine whether they have any purchasing authority.
Besides being well prepared for the event and having the right team members there to work the booth, you need to be sure the booth itself is a show-stopper. So many booths today are passed because they have lame giveaways, or the booth itself is not attractive. Things like that seem superficial, but they actually undermine your credibility as a viable company.
Tables, chairs, and demo pods have become the standard look for booths, but take a creative stand and make your booth look engaging. Use your booth to tell a story. Having an overall theme is a great way to convey that, and to get people talking and entice social media buzz.
Brand, Brand, Brand
If you do have a dramatic or evocative theme at your booth, remember not to lose your brand in it. Incorporate your booth theme with your brand, and make your branding visible to all attendees. Have a clear logo in all entrance points of your booth or hanging above your booth so people can see who you are right away.
Branding is crucial at trade shows. It’s your way to showcase who you are in front of thousands of people who may not have heard of you before. From the clothes you wear in the booth to the giveaways you offer to generate booth traffic, every last touch should be laced with your brand.
Driving booth traffic is a job best shared by a data-driven event planner who can give vendors the information they need to make a wise investment decision, and vendors who understand how to draw a crowd. Aspects like booth design, exhibition stand attractions, and effective conversion techniques help both the event planner and the exhibitor feel like it’s been a worthwhile partnership.