Level Up Your Next Trade Show Exhibit: Tips from EXHIBITORLIVE 2021
The vibe at EXHIBITORLIVE 2021, October 31 through November 3 in Las Vegas, was a little different than in past years. If you were there, you know what we mean. If not, we’ll fill you in. EXHIBITORLIVE is where trade show and event professionals of all kinds get together and show what they can do. They bring their best. If your company engages in event or trade show marketing of any kind, you can learn from this almost meta exhibition-of-exhibitions. We wanted to share a few things that we at Hamilton learned to help level up your next trade show exhibit.
Think Outside the Booth
Like so many other trade shows and conventions, EXHIBITORLIVE was canceled in 2020, then postponed in 2021, from spring to fall. The upside of the long wait was plenty of time to rethink the way things are always done. As a result, our Hamilton booth design looked a lot different than usual. More on that in a moment, but the change paid off. We sparked a lot of conversation that translated to valuable leads.
Slower times, even stressful times, present a fantastic opportunity to take stock of your processes. As our CEO, Jason Weddle, recently said in an interview with Inside INdiana Business, “Inertia and a sense of holding to the status quo – doing business in the same way that our industry had done for many years – was identified as a real barrier to achieving our short- and long-term potential.” Take the time to generate some new ideas and make bold choices for your trade show program.
Reshape Your Trade Show Exhibit
One way in which we reimagined our booth for EXHIBITORLIVE 2021 was to literally change its shape. Our experience — so much more than just a booth — consisted of six ten foot tall sycamore planks, each representing our distinctive core offerings. Their imposing size and organic material instantly made them stand out. Visitors could enter the space from any direction and experience it in their own way. In addition, we created an immersive experience within the space, without relying on traditional exhibitry. The sensory experience engulfed the space in shifting lights, sounds, and imagery. An overhead double-sided LED tile hanging sign cycled through visuals from six distinct environments: snow, forest, sea, desert, waterfall, and urban. With each change of the environment, the atmosphere changed — from the sounds in the space to the textural lighting dancing on the floor and across each pillar. The visitor would suddenly find themselves in, for example, a rainforest oasis or a bustling city. The booth completely immersed them into a unique experience providing almost a haven from the convention floor. Visitors remarked that they had never seen anything like it before.
Your trade show booth design should be an extension of your brand. Rather than thinking of it as a structure with walls and graphics, create a true experience. Give your visitors a chance to get to know your brand and remember it when they leave. Remember, this first interaction should be the start of a relationship.
Tell Booth Visitors What You Do
This might seem like a no-brainer, but at a convention where most people are in the same or similar industries, it’s all too easy to make assumptions. We learned something from taking a different approach this year. Each of the six pillars bore the name of one of our six core trade show solutions areas: Exhibits, Corporate Environments, Proprietary Events and Conferences, Outdoor Events, Mobile Tours, and Digital Solutions. So many visitors, who may have been previously familiar with one or two of our offerings, reacted with “I didn’t know you did that too!” For newcomers, it was immediately clear what we could offer them. Each pillar also included a QR code where the visitor could scan to learn more and answer trivia questions, using HUB LIVE, Hamilton’s proprietary touchless engagement solution
Avoid assuming that your services and abilities are obvious, even to current customers. It never hurts to spell things out and make yourself easily understood.
Surprise and Delight Booth Visitors
Not only was the layout of our EXHIBITORLIVE booth unusual this year, but we found ways to continuously surprise and delight visitors. Words engraved into the pillars, such as “Discover” and “Perspectives,” could only be read from a certain vantage point, which caused visitors to stop and adjust, then experience an “aha” moment when they read the results. In addition, the soundscape kept them curious and alert. For example, they could hear the sound of geese honking, sometimes well before arriving at our location. Many people stopped in their tracks to look around and figure out where the sound was coming from — or if there were actually waterfowl flying overhead!
Creating an immersive experiential environment, while also holding their attention, yields only positive results. Look for your own unique ways to surprise and delight visitors through creative booth experiences.
The Trade Show Audience is More Qualified Than Ever
Not everyone has returned to regular trade show attendance following the pandemic slowdown. However, we noticed something at EXHIBITORLIVE 2021. Those who have returned are highly motivated and excited to be there. Visitors to our booth were ready to engage in real conversations, and importantly, to continue those conversations after the event ended. We’re talking to a number of contacts we met at the event, and consider this one of our most successful shows ever in terms of generating leads.
EXHIBITORLIVE 2021 was a great way to head into the end of a strange year. At Hamilton, we learned a lot, and we’ll tell you more in our next blog post. We’re eager to pass on our experiences and help you maximize your trade show and convention presence in 2022. Contact us to help you brand your space.