Boo hoo boring booth

Conference booths go through trends. There was the stress ball era. The USB stick era. iPad Wheel of Fortune. Etc. But what if you could engage more with your captive audience?

I was speaking to a conference sponsor recently, and he was stating his concern over lack of attendee interest. After asking him what the problem was, he stated that even though he had paid for sponsorship, few people were coming to his booth. I could understand his concern, but pointed out that logo placement on a banner and a simple booth with brochures just wouldn't be enough to engage the audience. The problem is, as I discovered, many companies are bound to brand guidelines dictating exactly how a trade show booth should look, what it should say, how you should dress, what you should distribute, etc. And as a result, all booths look virtually identical. If you want to stand out as a brand, doesn't your booth have to stand out too?

I think there are great opportunities for sponsors to engage more with potential customers. A few years ago at HICAP, one booth had Bloody Marys in the morning and a beer tap in the afternoon. The same year, another booth had a game console with car racing and a leader board. Did these lead to transactions? I'm not sure, but they were engaging, and I'll admit, I felt bad for the vendors surrounding them with little to share.

Like any other marketing effort, more companies should think about vendor booths with this in mind:


Attract attention — not just with a booth or brochure, or a giveaway they'll then give away.


Raise their interest by illustrating how your product or service is relevant to them.


Create desire by demonstrating how your product or service will benefit them.


Only then can you start some meaningful dialogue that can hopefully engage them and prompt them to act.

I have a million ideas, but they're all very company- and event-specific. Instead, I'd rather challenge companies to think about this themselves.

Aside from visiting your friends' booths at conferences, how do you choose which other ones to explore??

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Craft House Founder and Director, Yvette Jong, contributes regularly to her HOTELS Magazine Blog titled, "The Good, the Bad and the Funky." Topics of discussion include all aspects of hospitality development, operations, branding, marketing, human resources, sustainability and much more.