Having a great-looking booth that’s been purposefully designed to help you accomplish your goals is the first big step toward ensuring a successful trade show appearance. The next step? Drawing trade show attendees into your booth to learn more about your product or brand. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to make your booth a can’t-miss destination. Interactive activities, whether in the form of an immersive virtual reality experience, a low-tech raffle, or anything in between, are a great way to grab attention. When you’re thinking of fresh new ways to attract visitors, always keep your brand and your goals firmly in mind, as the best interactive trade show booth ideas should do more than just lure swag collectors. Make sure your booth activities help you reach your show goals by giving potential customers and clients the perfect opportunity to learn more about your brand.
The Best Interactive Trade Show Booth Ideas Use Technology Purposefully
As covered in our recent piece on trade show trends, virtual reality—and its up-and-coming cousin, augmented reality—can provide attendees with a memorable interactive experience at your trade show booth. Clusters of VR-begoggled attendees spark instant curiosity from passersby. As the technology behind touchscreens grows in leaps and bounds, interactive video walls and touchscreens on monitors, tablets, or kiosks placed around your booth are more popular than ever, giving visitors a tactile and self-guided introduction to your brand. If you’re planning a video wall, bear in mind that all elements of your presentation—just like all aspects of your booth—should be thoughtfully selected to make sure you’re not bombarding visitors with underwhelming content, such as generic stock images. As with every other element of your exhibit, the technology you use should help your booth visitors interact and engage with your brand.
Interactive technology can also extend beyond the booth: Push notifications sent to the phones of attendees can invite them to a special event held at your booth—perhaps to attend a virtual reality experience that culminates in a chance to win a VR setup of their own. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
The Best Interactive Trade Show Booth Ideas Appeal to a Competitive Nature
While a well-deployed display of cutting-edge technology is a great way to draw a crowd, you don’t have to have the latest in moving pixels to get visitors to interact with your brand. Gamification—the art of using game elements to encourage engagement and participation—is popping up in more industries all the time. There are at least nine software companies devoted specifically to motivating sales reps through gamification; it’s also the driving force behind some of the biggest loyalty programs around. Gamification is everywhere: If you’ve ever collected Monopoly pieces at your grocery store or favorite fast-food chain for the chance to win cash or prizes, you’ve engaged in gamification. Gamification is popular at trade shows, and for good reason: Games can be a useful way to draw visitors into your booth, to collect their contact information, and to incentivize their attendance at presentations and demonstrations. Games involving mobile devices make it especially easy for attendees to upload photos and videos of your exhibit to their social media accounts, providing you with a painless way to spread the word about your brand to an audience far outside the trade show venue.
The activities themselves can run the gamut from sophisticated, technology-rich video games to rudimentary carnival-style games. It’s up to you to decide what will interest visitors and give them the correct impression of your brand. Possible options include, but are by no means limited to, the following:
- Location-based mobile games, which could possibly incorporate augmented reality. If you want visitors to play a white-label version of Pokémon GO or any other multiplayer location-based game, it can happen. Bear in mind that lead time on a full-featured mobile app with location-based gaming will involve considerable development time, so allow your team plenty of room to plan ahead.
- Motion-sensor games with large-scale projection displays. There will be space considerations for these, so consider your options at the venue carefully.
- Arcade games. The nostalgia factor of old-school standing arcade consoles helps them draw a crowd. Think of the impression you’ll make if you can customize the cabinets—or the games themselves—to your brand. Also consider pinball machines and Skee-Ball tables. Sometimes low-tech is the right way to go, if it works for your brand.
- Carnival-style games. Spin a wheel, toss a ring, or chuck a dart at a balloon, and win a prize. It may seem like you’re reverting to childhood, but if they fit with your brand, carnival games can be an inexpensive and low-fuss way to get visitors to your booth. Make sure to choose your prizes carefully: Trade show visitors tend to get burdened down by cheap and unwanted swag, and unless you’re exhibiting at a trade show for ichthyologists, nobody will want to lug a bagged goldfish around the venue.
- Pub trivia. Hosting a vigorous round of Jeopardy!-style questions is a great way to get a crowd engaged and involved. Keep your questions industry-related, and keep the atmosphere light: Prizes given for both correct and incorrect answers mean everyone will leave with positive feelings about your brand.
Gamification can be basic, or it can be sophisticated and highly targeted. We’ve noted before how the best exhibition design firms can influence your audience; in that spirit, we suggest taking a look at the way Boston Scientific, a noted medical device developer, hired a mobile developer to create a game as part of their exhibit at a medical device trade show. Within the game, contestants navigated the interior of a bile duct on kiosk-based touchscreens. Designing the game required a great deal of planning and effort, but it provided attendees with a memorable brand experience.
The Best Interactive Trade Show Booth Ideas Have a Sense of Fun
Consider incorporating some activities into your trade show presence that aren’t quite outright games, yet still encourage audience participation and interaction. It may take some careful organization—not to mention the express permission of the show organizer—but hosting a fun scavenger hunt, in which visitors search for prizes or clues hidden around the trade show floor, can be a great way to capture the attention of visitors and get them to willingly invest quality time interacting with your brand. For a tech-savvy twist, consider using a digital platform dedicated to scavenger hunts, in which participants search for QR codes strategically placed around the venue and use their phones to scan them. A perpetually popular option at trade shows, photo booths give you the perfect opportunity to score a little extra social media exposure. Set up a photo booth, or establish a dedicated space with an irresistible branded backdrop somewhere in your exhibit, and encourage participants to upload the results to their social media accounts. Raffles are a simple and popular way to gather contact information from visitors while giving them a chance to win a cool prize. Whatever activities you choose, be sure to reward visitors for their time and attention with good value; you want them to leave the show with a positive impression of your brand or product.
The Best Interactive Trade Show Booth Ideas Engage Audiences
Product demonstrations and presentations don’t have to be one-sided. Live presentations can invite attendees to interact with your brand. Even live theater can be part of the experience. Want to draw a crowd? Recruit a special performer to engage audiences, such as a celebrity guest willing to pose for photographs with attendees, or a stand-up comic or magician who can incorporate audience members into their act.
An important note: Don’t get so swept up into the theatricality of performances or demonstrations that you forget the purpose of your appearance at the trade show. Everyone representing your brand should know their roles before the venue opens. Make sure all games, activities, or presentations are consistent with your brand image and can contribute in a measurable way to accomplishing your show goals. You don’t want your brand name associated with anything that will reflect on it in any way but positively. That’s another reminder of why it’s a good idea to work with a professional trade show exhibit designer with the knowledge and experience to create a purpose-built custom booth and, if needed, to shape your trade show marketing strategy.
The Best Interactive Trade Show Booth Ideas Are Part of an Overall Plan
Exhibiting at a trade show is a lot of work, and you’ll want to be certain your efforts are likely to pay off. That starts with knowing that every element of your exhibit is created for a tactical reason. For instance, you may want your booth to comfortably accommodate a big audience for product demonstrations. That move can help achieve many strategic goals, such as increased brand awareness, more appointments made, or more contracts signed. Whatever your goals, the interactive elements of your trade show booth as well as the booth design itself should contribute to making them happen.
Measurement is one of the keys to improvement, so make sure you hand out evaluation cards directly after your games, activities, presentations, or demonstrations, while the experience is still fresh. You’ll want to see how well your message stuck, and how you can make it even clearer and more resonant at your next show.
Organizing a successful trade show appearance will require time, effort, and planning. You may be able to handle parts of it on your own, but the complexity of designing, printing, fabricating, transporting, installing, managing, and dismantling a world-class trade show booth is considerable. If you need a team of experienced artisans to help you realize your trade show vision, we’d like to hear from you.