Photo: stock.Xchng / beermug
To attract attendees, you must first understand what gets their attention. There’s no point in doing an over-the-top promotion if nobody cares. But if you truly know your audience, the sky’s the limit on what fun things you can incorporate. Just check out these examples:
- Thanks to motion-capture technology, attendees got to interact onscreen with the popular dancing hamsters from the Kia Motors “Party Rock” commercial at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The dancing critters, known as the Hamstars, dance in response to the movements of attendee volunteers who are up on a 20-foot stage with a giant screen behind them.
- Also at the NAIAS, Subaru used green-screen photo technology to allow fans to create images of their fantasy road trip. Attendees first snapped a photo with their chosen adventure props, then chose their favorite background and made other “adjustments” on touchscreen kiosks before sharing the final photo to social media.
- Remember playing with Hot Wheels? At the Canadian International Auto Show, Chevrolet Canada featured a special Hot Wheels-inspired blue Camaro. But it wasn’t just the full-size car that attracted attention. Next to it was a special vending machine that dispensed toy cars after visitors tweeted a message which included a special hashtag and Twitter handle. They handed out over 1,500 exclusive collector cars!
- Interbike, the largest U.S. bicycle show, has accepted the fact that customers love to attend their trade show. So this year they’ve created Interbike by Invitation, a VIP day where customers invited by their favorite local bike shop can attend the popular trade show. In addition to a guest pass, the VIPs will also receive a gift bag, magazine subscription, and several collectible items. That’s a pretty good value for a $50 registration fee! And since it’s a non-selling show, they’re even providing kiosks throughout the show floor so consumers can place an order for the latest gear with their local independent bike shop.
- At the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, the National Auto Dealers Association offered “lifestyle zones” around the show floor, offering themes of Beauty and Fashion (with makeovers and fragrance sampling), Healthplex (featuring health screenings and mini Zumba workouts), Gametime (including pinball and arcade games), and Relax (with chair massages and an oxygen bar).
While the first three examples can inspire individual exhibitors, I see a lot of promise in the last two for how shows can evolve into more of a destination for their target audience. Both of these ideas take a “been-there-done-that” show and infuse it with new life and excitement, appealing more to younger attendees, while also keeping people on the show floor for longer periods of time.
So how will you take these ideas and incorporate new attractions into your booth or show?
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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights
blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image
, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto
, and the ExhibitorEd Success System
. Exhibit Design That Works
(the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success
series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café
, an online education community.