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Trade shows: Beyond the Build

Beyond the Build

“Build it and they will come.”

Not always true. Have you ever been at a trade show and seen a beautiful booth with no-one in the space? Or a booth that obviously is drawing crowds even though it isn’t the biggest or most elaborate exhibit?

While we would never downplay the importance of a well-designed environment, there is no getting away from the fact that people expect more from brands now and that applies to a B2B and B2C environment.

The type of engagement that makes sense obviously depends on several factors, but here’s a few thought starters that we discuss with our clients:

  • Who do you want to talk to?

It could be that the goal of this event is just to reinforce relationships with existing customers. Or it could strictly be about lead generation for potential new clients. There are even scenarios where you may be focused on a particular role or industry vertical. Your engagement should be tailored with this in mind.

  • What do you want them to remember about the interaction?

If you are launching a new product or an added service offering, there may be a way to tie that into the engagement. It could be as simple as a sampling with a new food product or as targeted as a learning experience about a new technology.

  • How much space can you allocate to the engagement?

Be realistic here. There are certain functions your booth must accommodate; perhaps there needs to be private meeting space, or food prep or storage. The engagement should be proportionate to the space in order to not close off the booth to foot traffic. This may mean consideration of a digital engagement for example, something that can take place in a small area.

Often, the engagement comes later and needs to work within your existing situation, but if you have the luxury of designing your space with the engagement in mind, the options are endless!

In 2019, Hyatt showcased the Meditation Station at GBTA and IMEX. The inflatable room was designed to be a fully immersive guided meditation experience that would draw attention to their wellness initiatives. Then taking a different approach to the wellness topic, Hyatt offered a small oasis to meeting attendees at IMEX 2021 and even scheduled interactive activities such as mini tai chi sessions.

IDDBA is a large show where brands need to distinguish themselves from the competition. DecoPac created an immersive space called the "Party Room.” To show the different celebrations that take place around a dinner table, projection mapping displayed a variety of cakes and desserts on the table and supporting video played on a 95" LCD screen. The room also had COLOR-changing LED lights that corresponded to the decorated cakes on the table video. The goal was to show buyers that DecoPac cares about the end-user of their products and showcase the variety of celebrations they can support.

Another great example of an experience that laddered up to product education and sampling was the Hops Bar that BSG showcased at CBC this year. Attendees could check out the different forms of hops and there were hops grinders available so people could experience the impact on their senses. They also had a rotating tap list of beers made by BSG/Rahr and their suppliers' ingredients, including a special 175th anniversary beer brewed by Rahr.

Many activities that would work in a B2C promotion work well within a B2B setting as well. ARS had some data capture goals and some great giveaways on hand as incentives, but they still added a roulette table which drew in many attendees that may not have otherwise visited.

Whether you have the perfect engagement idea, or you need some inspiration, our EP teams are here to ideate, design, execute and to ensure you have the opportunity to connect with your target audience at your next event.


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