virtual reality at a trade show

When designing your trade show’s experiential strategy, your number one goal should be: don’t bore the attendees!

For best results, integrate. When you think about the consumer engagement you want trade show attendees to experience, consider how that experience ties into their journey with your brand from pre-show marketing to post-show follow ups. Also consider your overarching marketing messages so that you’re producing a seamless brand image for trade show attendees. Make sure to connect the dots to your trade show experience from every other marketing piece you push out.

Once you’ve really thought about the integration of your in-booth experience to your overall marketing strategy, it’s time to decide if your trade show should have a theme or not. Some brands have a lot of success pulling off themed trade show activations. For example, if you’re a corporate travel agent, you could theme your exhibit around Paris. Use the Eiffel Tower in all of your marketing pieces. Offer a virtual reality experience in your booth to allow attendees to virtually tour The Louvre. And give away a grand prize trip to Paris. It could work very well, because it ties back to what you do. Deciding to theme your trade show experience depends on your brand, your objectives and how well you can integrate the theme into everything else you do. For new brands, a theme can risk diverting attention away from your solutions. But for more established brands, a theme can be a lot of fun – and memorable.

Trade shows were developed for product demonstrations. You need to create your attendee engagement around what you’re trying to sell. Have something that can’t easily be demonstrated in a small booth space? Virtual reality, videos and digital gamification are all ways to show off the ‘hard to demonstrate’ product or service. If a trade show attendee can touch, trial or taste your product themselves, the better! But I caution you: a product demo is not all about your product. It needs to be about your audience. A great demo puts your audience in the center of the story you’re trying to tell.

The experience at your trade show booth should be interactive. Immerse attendees, so that they’re using more brain power which means they’ll be more likely to remember you! A key is designing a consumer engagement that is both relevant to your audience and to your brand. Otherwise, your audience will miss the point…and you’ll miss the opportunity to establish a relationship.

Travis Stanton, editor of Exhibitor Magazine, recently wrote about how relevancy is important to your trade show experience. His story about how Amazon missed the boat by not linking their arcade experience to a branded message demonstrates how easily it is to get distracted by what we call BSO syndrome, or bright shiny object syndrome. Don’t let the experience steal your brand.

The best experience is the one customized to you and your audience. But to get your creative juices flowing, here are some examples:

  • Use virtual reality to create a fun adventure
  • Have food or drink stations where attendees can make or mix their own
  • Use large interactive touch screens where attendees can play games or customize your product to fit them, digitally
  • Include a life-size board game to inspire youthful excitement
  • Integrate RFID stations for gift-giving or as a scavenger hunt
  • Include a unique photo opportunity, which is easily shared to social media

Experiences that engage the most senses will have higher recall rates. From sound to scent, you need to think about how your experience resonates with your audience’s senses. Plus, consider how your booth staff are trained in making personal connections with every show attendee that stops by your booth.

Everything you do for or at the show needs to be engaging. Think about your trade show strategy from the user experience viewpoint. Is it effective? Is it enjoyable? And is it memorable?

We’re here to help if you need a little boost in experiential creativity. In the meantime, check out our free trade show exhibitor guide that covers attendee engagements and much more!

Trade Show Exhibitor Guide

Trade Show Exhibitor Guide

This free download is chock-full of tips for your next trade show – logistics, marketing, consumer engagements!

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