Top 7 Interactive Trade Show Exhibit Ideas

Hamilton Hamilton

Is your company looking to revamp its trade show presence to attract more attendees, make a lasting impression, and increase quality lead generation? If so, consider setting your sights on creating interactive trade show exhibits that transform the attendee experience from that of an observer to a participant and give visitors an experience they will remember. This guide shares our top seven favorite interactive exhibit ideas to help you take your next trade show appearance to the next level. 

1. Offer a Hands-on Experience 

When visitors pass through exhibit after exhibit, reading information and listening to sales pitches, they naturally start to glaze over and zone out. Break this cycle by creating opportunities for attendees to experience your products or services for themselves through a hands-on experience. Take, for example, our work with Sensormatic. When developing the customer journey through the exhibit, we created “tour stops” where attendees could participate in demos of solutions to help retailers be more efficient, secure, and intelligent. The hands-on engagement led to a packed exhibit every day of the show, garnered significant press attention, increased lead capture, and allowed visitors to imagine how Sensormatic’s solutions could directly benefit them. 

2. Engage the Senses

Hands-on activities, in addition to standard compelling visuals, help take your experience to the next level. Given that sensory processing and memory are closely intertwined, why not continue to enhance engagement opportunities by activating the rest of the five senses? Consider ways to tell your brand’s story through sounds, smells, and tastes to use sensory inputs to create positive, lasting impressions. For example, even if you are not a food or beverage supplier, you can offer a refreshment or treat that shows hospitality and delights attendees. Or control and alter the sounds in your exhibit with noise-buffering architectural features or headphones that immerse attendees in exciting brand experiences. 

3. Entrance Attendees with a Dynamic Display 

Do not be tempted to default to a static display. Integrate opportunities for interaction by creating dynamic visuals and daring architecture that exemplifies your brand’s message. Invite guests into your exhibit through expressive elements that grab their attention and fulfill their curiosity once inside. For example, visitors could see our Mailchimp exhibit, a 5-tier, sunshine yellow, organically shaped sign from 100’ away. As they approached the exhibit, visitors saw a wall-like structure featuring a mix of static and projection-mapped content dancing across. Upon entering the exhibit, staff encouraged attendees to explore the wall and touch the interactive areas, triggering static illustrations to animate. The dynamic display increased overall traffic and created opportunities for in-depth conversations.

4. Strategize Seating

A significant goal of companies when attending trade shows is for attendees to spend time in the exhibit engaging in meaningful conversations. To create a welcoming environment and cultivate opportunities for in-depth discussions: arrange furniture in the space with purpose; create a lounge or sitting area that allows sales representatives to have productive, casual, and private conversations with potential leads and existing customers. For example, reference our work with ADT Authorized Dealer at ISC West in 2022. We created a lounge area where attendees had casual discussions and a conference room used by sales representatives holding private conversations with possible leads and existing customers. The arrangement of attendees’ seating allowed ADT to successfully present its brand image, increase exhibit traffic, and enhance opportunities for in-depth discussions. 

5. Use Technology with a Purpose

Numerous technology tools exist to surprise and delight audiences, as success lies within the use of technology to do more than entertain. Visitors attend trade shows seeking education and connections, and technology can achieve both objectives. Take, for example, Johnson Control’s exhibit at AHR 2022. We helped design and create a digital motion graphic that compellingly communicated brand content. Keynote sessions were broadcasted live and virtually and available on-demand after the conference through a mobile event app. The digital experience positioned Johnson Control as an innovator and leader in the industry. 

6. Think Outside the Box

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to test out bold ideas and make strong impressions, which together help you cut through industry clutter. Take inspiration from the unique aspects of your brand to create a genuinely innovative and interactive experience. Stand out by showing up differently and trying something new. For example, we worked with Elanco to redefine their conference presence and maximize the rate of return. Elanco boldly leveraged their brand above product messaging by establishing a VIP program and exclusive exhibit experiences. Their unique strategy increased leads by 250% from the previous year, increased exhibit traffic, and promoted more meaningful conversations. 

7. Get Expert Help

To shake things up, it is sometimes necessary to call upon experts; we are here to help. 

Hamilton is a full-service event marketing agency with a 75-year legacy creating immersive brand experiences for companies throughout North America and worldwide. We design, produce, and execute integrated experiences that drive meaningful connections between your brand and audience. Our full range of solutions includes exhibits, proprietary events and conferences, mobile tours, corporate environments, outdoor events, and digital experiences. 

To create an effective interactive trade show exhibit, contact Hamilton today!