• How to Create a Trade Show with a Twist

    Shake up the norm to get attendees engaged and mixing with exhibitors.

     
    FROM THE Spring 2015 ISSUE
     

WHILE PLANNING CONFERENCES IN THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION, I had the wonderful opportunity to organize a conference for an alcohol marketing group. The instruction was to “spruce up” the trade show, make it fun and interactive, and create a memorable experience for the exhibitors and delegates. To accomplish this, my team and I applied the following four concepts.

» Shake things up. Instead of having their standard booth-by-booth, supplier-by-supplier exhibit, we designed four themed bars to display all the alcohol products. The four massive bars were an ice bar for white wines, sports bar for beers, vineyard for red wines and Art Deco Manhattan bar for swishy cocktails. Each booth had unique and memorable design elements. The ice bar featured actual ice sculptures that were designed to chill the wine, the sports bar felt like a true sports bar experience with enormous flat-screen TVs and a foosball table, and underneath the glass cocktail tables in the vineyard were wooden barrels for shelving and creatively displaying products. The swishy cocktails booth featured large geometrical shapes and themed costumes worn by the exhibitors to match the Art Deco era.

» Create elements to wow the audience. The four themed booths were a surprise to the attendees. When they entered the room, we did a kabuki drop revealing each of the themes. As each curtain was drawn, the master of ceremonies introduced the booths individually with theme music while announcing the brands displayed in each booth. The brand representatives were inside the booths behind the kabuki reveal and were exuberantly ready and anxious to greet the attendees with their unique designs, appetizers and, of course, beverages.

» Create collisions among attendees. By grouping the vendors, attendees were encouraged to meet with all the vendors conveniently in one location. We implemented a passport system, since this was an international conference, and each person received a fake passport with a page dedicated to each exhibitor. Attendees would receive a stamp in their passport once they met with an exhibitor. Each exhibitor received a branded stamp as part of sponsorship so everyone could participate. Attendees turned in completed passports that were entered in a raffle for an iPad. Each booth also had its own appetizer menu to match the theme. This enticed people to stay longer, enjoy great food and network with exhibitors.

» Have fun. The master of ceremonies was a comedian who spoke seven different languages, which was helpful and appropriate for this international audience. During the trade show, he walked around the floor interviewing people about the products, making people laugh and telling jokes in various languages. All of this was filmed and streamed live on screen throughout the trade show floor.

Next time you are planning a trade show, think about how you can shake things up using some or all of these concepts.

CAROL PORTER, CMP, IS EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND CEO OF VIAWEST. SHE PLANS MEETINGS, EVENTS AND CONFERENCES FOR VIAWEST AND SERVES ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR MPIRMC.

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