Tradeshow experiences that impressed

My team will soon be starting to work on our 2018 Tradeshow booth. What are some experiences or features from shows you may have attended recently that blew you away? I know Yo talked once on here about the Polk booth, but does anyone else have experience with building a booth? What were your paint points/learnings? I am just curious about others opinions, I have contributed to our last two booths, but I want to elevate it this year. Just FYI, we generally work with a company who specializes in creating the booths and furniture etc, and then we do most of the design work / experience creation.

Well, one of the things I learned is to keep things very portable, lightweight and good for transportation. Unless you want to end up with the back of your truck transformed into a jumbled mess. It also helps to have a 3D preview of your booth before starting the installation (yes we didn’t always use to do that). And make sure you put the interesting things on the outside of the booth near the walking aisles, for visitors it is like entering shops and most of them rather see the window shop first.

What’s your strategy? I’ve seen great “Tech”, “Expert”, “Service”, “Innovation”, “Care”, “Automation”, “Immersion”, etc booths. If you had to pound your fist on the table to get across the one thing to your customer, what would that thing be?

The worst booths have the best giveaways. The leads from those are generally useless.

Great points about putting things on the outside. Luckily transportation isn’t a HUGE issue because we usually send a crate or two over for the big shows, but the mobility aspect that you mentioned could be nice to consider for breaking down aspects for smaller shows we could send our own vehicles to.

Good points also iab, we try to keep the giveaways minimal and focus more on the experience.

I’ve gone to the Housewares show over the past few years, and helped build a booth for it last year. I typically ignored ones that felt enclosed (walled up, or full to the brim with products - felt overwhelming) if I hadn’t already planned to check it out. The booths that had products along the aisle were a lot more inviting.

When I rushed out of Housewares this year, JosephJoseph stopped me with their standalone display of water bottles. I can’t recall - maybe they highlighted the unique functionality in big font on their display. But it was so easily accessible, memorable, and interactive. Arctic Zone had their colorful bags along the walls that helped grab attention and was enjoyable to have discussions about. Some booths had their brand up high, making them easier to be found (or as landmarks). If you’re thinking about having banner stands, make sure the main idea/product is high enough from the ground so that it doesn’t get blocked by an adjacent booth and is easy to see from far away.

Do you know where your booth is relative to main aisles and entrances? I think this is helpful in stragetizing how to make the most of your location.

I freelanced for a company designing tradeshow booths for big brands for a while. It is facinating to see how much money big brands are willing to spend. Budgets for showbooths probably sometimes surpass even the budget for their industrial design operations actually designing the products. It’s crazy. And the people designing those booths are typically architects and graphic designers and usually have very very little interest in the products themselves. I think many booths would be vastly better if the people designing them would focus less on erecting crazy structures and focus more on the products. Mostly the presentation looks like an afterthought. I don’t know who started the trend that you need to build some sort of “house” around your booth.

I worked on the design of 4 years of CES trade show booths, 4 years of CEDIA trade show booths. I concentrated my value in the same way, overall concept, design theme, and direction. I then worked with a design/build shop that only worked on trade show booths. I felt like that was a good mix. My team also did all of the final graphics. A few things I learned from the many many mistakes I made.

  1. give aways, no one cares. The first couple of years I spent a lot of time on this and it doesn’t matter. One year we even had a coffee shop inside the booth. This proved incredibly difficult, incredibly expensive, and resulted in a line up the hall for shmoes who wants free coffee.

  2. develop an overall concept, and then work on the simplest, most effective way to tell that simple story. One year I did an installation of almost every sku Polk and Definitive made hung in a salon art gallery style. Very fun simple idea… until you have to ship 500 sky’s to Vegas and it takes the instal team 2 days to set it up, 2 days to tear it down, and no one cared because it didn’t tell a story other than we make a lot of stuff. The more successful years focused on a small portion of the product line, or better yet, a concept. One year we did “audiophile grade wireless home”… simple, and pointed out implicitly that the competitors were not audiophile level.

  3. go high. Seems simple, but make sure your booth has clear sight lines (picking the booth location is super important to the design) and make sure you have the appropriate size signage and messaging for the eyeline. IE up at the ceiling, giant logo for across the hall viewing. Midway up tagline and secondary logo for 50-100 ft away. Just above human height, key messaging for less than 15ft away viewing.

  4. have an instagram moment. One of our competitors came every year with a 10" pair of headphones you can walk between. I thought it was dumb, but then I watched people take selfies under the headphones for 4 days straight… for 4 years straight…