Conferences, trades shows and expos are great places to find event design inspiration. Event planners can pick up best practices from what they see. The experience can also spark ideas for innovation. The GBTA Canada 2012 Conference, which took place in Toronto this week, was no exception. Attendees picked up a number of ideas for driving traffic to trade show booths:
For Trade Show Organizers
Some of the strategies that trade show organizers can use to maximize the time that attendees spend with exhibitors include:
- Stage coffee and lunch breaks on the trade show floor.
- Place refreshment tables at a variety of locations around the exhibition area.
- Create wide aisle and space high tops for networking and snacking in the center of the aisles.
Lengthen coffee and lunch breaks to maximize the time for networking and interacting with exhibitors.
At the GBTA Canada 2012 Conference, coffee breaks were 45 minutes and lunch was 1 hour and 45 minutes on Day 1 and 1 1/2 hours on Day 2.
- Schedule a late start time for lunch (e.g. 12:30 or 12:45) and postpone the afternoon break.
- Host the Opening Reception early on the trade show floor.
Finish presentations and breakout sessions early while delegates are still alert enough to absorb content and benefit from networking time.
At the GBTA 2012 Canada Conference, Day 1 ended at 4:15 and the conference was wrapped up on Day 2 at 3:30.
Some of this week's exhibitors used very creative approaches to capture attention and attract visitors.
Add a touch of nature.
A few Toronto hotels had flowers and Thompson Toronto gave out vases with flowers.
Use food and beverage strategically.
CTMS Travel had a popcorn machine, slushies and a bar with a bartender.
Add the element of surprise.
AirPlus International had a man's suit on a tailor's form in its booth. There was also a giant poster with a woman in a tailored suit. This automatically sparked curiosity and many attendees approach the booth to clarify the services that AirPlus International was offering. (At first I thought it was custom tailored suits for travel industry professionals, but AirPlus actually offers "custom tailored solutions.")
Trade Show Traffic Sparks
Some of the traffic driving ideas that the conference sparked include:
- Vary the doors that are open for entrance to the exhibition area so that traffic flows throughout the space.
Organize the trade show floor into city or country zones.
This will make it easier for attendees to find suppliers in regions of interest. (Incentiveworks has used this strategy.)
- Space the dining tables throughout the exhibition space and decorate the tables to reflect the city or regional zones where they are located.
- Organize an interactive scavenger hunt to encourage participants to approach booths and interact with exhibitors.
Throw a block party in one of the regional zones.
IMEX America 2011 threw the fabulous Euro-zone Block Party.
Photo Credits: Executive Oasis International