Event planners share tips to ensure a booth stands out from the pack.
Trade shows by nature are often formulaic: think large open-plan rectilinear spaces and booth sizes with set parameters. From an attendee’s point of view, there can be too much choice and too little distinction.
Technology is one way to achieve cut-through. Audiences are hungry for the latest experiences technology has to offer, and if they can get their hands on it before anyone else, all the better.
“With Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headsets, augmented reality and virtual reality are blended, and with reduced rig setup, this tech works well for stands,” said Max Fellows, director of client services at MCI Experience.
Fellows added that 3D projection mapping also brings immersive elements to a stand. With creative visuals that are constantly changing, a booth will be more dynamic and likely will see increased foot traffic and engagement.
Billboard-style digital screens at a booth can also capture the attention of passers-by, while
using social media can drive engagement, according to Ambera Cruz, marketing managing Asia-Pacific at Meltwater.
“Try creating a photo-booth area where guests can take pictures,” she said. “You can also use this as an opportunity to collect information about them such as phone numbers and email addresses.”
When it comes to booth layout, colours, and branding, steer clear of using too many words or logos on walls and backdrops as this can be off-putting.
“Not every booth needs to be square or rectangular in shape, so try switching it up,” Cruz advised. “And consider using different materials to construct your booth — like wood cladding or colourful wallpapers. But don’t forget to stay on brand. If it doesn’t help to tell your story, don’t use it.”
Beth Martin, vice president of product marketing, demand generation, and marketing analytics at Freeman, said storytelling can be handled through the design of the booth and sensory elements. She recalls a recent example of a stand from Vornado Realty Trust, which included a tall LED-wrapped display built to mimic New York City’s iconic Times Square.
“The design showcases the brand’s Big Apple roots, progressive thinking, and appeals to its cosmopolitan audience,” Martin said. “That sleek, cost-effective element proved to be a sophisticated marketing move that evoked Vornado’s brand vision and created universal buzz at the conference from all audiences.”
Other examples include food brands harnessing the power of scent, and eco-friendly companies choosing exhibits built with recycled or recyclable materials.
Presenting lively, dynamic content is also key. Try to avoid subjecting visitors to a brochure overload and monotonous salespeople reciting the same script over and over. Instead, Nina Gomez, head of operations, Singapore at CWT Meetings & Events, suggested presenting short TED-style talks at your booth that focus on trends and share genuine insights, without the hard sell. It’s worth bringing in a professional speaker — or even a customer — who can talk articulately and passionately about your brand.
“Freebies work well too — but steer clear of the boring and clichéd thumb drives and Post-it pads,” Gomez added. “Offer functional items they may need while at the event — for example, a barista station with free coffee. You could also offer Wi-Fi access with more bandwidth and better speeds than the trade show venue — exchanging the password for business cards.”