Every year I attend EXHIBITORLIVE for inspiration and information. The conference sessions, networking events and show hall provide me with the opportunity to see new exhibit design trends and learn about the newest products for Ion customers.
As trade shows and events evolve, we hear the word “engagement” come up in discussions more often. The dictionary defines engagement as the act of being fully occupied or having your full attention and focus. Exhibitors today need to do more than just greet and meet – they need to connect with attendees. With this top of mind, here are my top three takeaways from the show that illustrated ways to engage attendees.
Takeaway #1: Entertainment this year attendees gathered in The Square minutes before the show hall officially opened. As the crowd grew, excitement built for what was coming. Viewers pressed around a roped off area and took out their cell phones to be ready to take pictures of whatever was coming. The throng cheered as a cyclist performed daring stunts. When the show was over, attendees swarmed the entrance to the show hall. Motion graphics on walls and floors grabbed the attention of many passersby who were awed by, or eager to explore, breathtaking imagery.
Takeaway #2: Offering visitors unique and entertaining experiences that get attention because they’re unexpected and fun comfort zones. Many of the exhibits featured a lounge area to entice attendees into their space. Lounge areas could be found atop double-deck exhibits and designed into the floor space. Lounge spaces lure attendees to sit and chat, much like inviting clients into your office, conference room or even your home. Lounge areas featured everything from comfortable sofas to bar stools. Lounges also took the form of independent salons such as sound proof pods for 2-4 people and the Meeting Point Lounge designed for small group gatherings. Some exhibitors paired the seating with refreshments to extend the time attendees remained in the booth. Beverages included coffee, tea and non-alcoholic “shots”. Food included printed cookies, tiny pies and ice cream cones.
Takeaway #3: Creating a welcoming environment in your space extends your opportunity for meaningful connections. Sharing hospitality and getting to know one another enable you to really relate with, and qualify, visitors. Education industry research indicates that the primary reason people attend trade shows is to learn about new products. The secondary reason is to network. This tells us people are looking for solutions to their business concerns. To be considered a trusted resource, you need to listen first and then focus your response on their needs. This is why games, product demos, interactive touchscreens and other technologies are so popular. Many exhibitors used some form of “mini training” in their booth which enabled the staff to tailor their response to a visitor’s needs. More importantly, visitors were engaged in the process of learning how the company can help them. Audience participation is key to memory retention.
Educating attendees about how you can help solve their problems enables you to introduce your company as a resource that can be trusted after the show. These takeaways apply to small and large exhibitors alike. Contact your Account Executive today to learn how Ion Exhibits can help you optimize your next event.