3 Smart Event Activation Ideas to Share with Your Exhibitors

By Gary Schirmacher, SVP Industry Presence & Strategic Development

When it comes to events, we’re studying this rapidly-changing business landscape from two vantage points:

  1. As a solution specialist, helping event organizers design and deliver exceptional experiences;
  2. As an investor, tapping industry events to grow relationships with our clients, as well as prospects who may be seeking help.

It’s interesting to see how often one vantage point feeds the other.

We might spot something smart being done by an exhibitor at an event we’re working and tweak that idea to use in our own booth. On the flip side, we might road-test new activation ideas and share the best ones with our clients, so they can pass these along to their exhibitors.

In 2016, our team pushed the limits on both counts. In this post, we’d like to showcase three ideas that generated meaningful value for us.

IDEA #1: Dial Up the Booth Visuals with a Graphic Recorder

The brain processes images (visual information) 60,000 times faster than text. Add real-time illustration to the mix where visuals evolve over the span of a trade show and it’s a great way to get event guests to stop, look, and contribute.

We invited an incredibly talented graphic recorder, Michelle Boos-Stone, to join us at several industry shows and transform insights shared by people stopping by our booth into a stunning visual montage of brand stories.

This graphic recorder concept might be one to consider yourself, as it can easily be extended to an event pavilion, which tees up all kinds of new sponsorship opportunities.

IDEA #2: Innovation Chats with Clients at Your Booth

With the hundreds of trade shows and conferences we’re involved in each year, we’re constantly seeing brilliant ideas unfold at these events. We wanted to share a bit of that client brilliance with others, so at Expo!Expo! ’16, we scheduled in-booth education, featuring chats with clients throughout the day.

These were short, story-driven chats (15-20 minutes max), where clients would share ideas they were testing and perfecting at their own events. With clusters of casual seating situated throughout our booth, this made it easier for those passing by to stop and give a listen. Talks were scheduled at the top of each hour, with plenty of “white space” between each one to allow for informal peer-to-peer exchanges.

We knew there were others who couldn’t make it to the show, so we tapped Facebook Live to live-stream these talks to a larger audience. At last count, there were more than a thousand views. Live streaming event experiences is a nice way to give others a glimpse of what they’re missing and could tip more decisions to attend the following year.

IDEA #3: Breakfast Food Trucks

With Expo!Expo! ’16 happening in sunny Anaheim, we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and bring our breakfast conversations outside.

Enter the Experient Food Truck. This meals-on-wheels concept was a big hit, as it offered even more opportunities to engage guests in great conversations, amid a relaxing and fun setting. Keep in mind, this isn’t one of those, “If you build it, they will come” deals. This idea works best when you make it special with personal invitations going out in advance and during the show.

If you’d like more details on any of these ideas, please email me. I’d be happy to walk you through steps to make this happen at your event.

In the meantime, what booth activation ideas are catching your attention?

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