4 Ways to Use AV to Build a Memorable Trade Show Experience

January 8, 2020

One of the best tools trade show planners have in their toolbox is a strong relationship with their audio-visual provider.

AV brings a trade show to life with dynamic lighting, sound and interactive experiences that engage and excite attendees, letting them know they are somewhere special. 

Everyone Wants a Moment to Shine

No matter the makeup of an audience, you need to keep in mind that it’s full of real people, not just the labels of attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. People tend to have similar interests and desires, which include being seen.

“In my experience, people generally want the same things from an event,” says Joe Kinney, creative design at RSN member CMI AV. “They appreciate engaging information. They want to see themselves and their friends in the photos on a screen.”

AV delivers information to the group by sharing it in strategic locations. It can also deliver photos of attendees through a live feed from social media or through a video or slide show each day, which is a fun way to keep the group captivated and excited. 

“When you bring attendees on stage—literally or virtually—it really gets everyone engaged,” adds Kinney. Otherwise, they are likely to be in their own private worlds, on their phones.

Embrace the Flexibility of LED  

LED walls are the video screens of today. They are modular, made up of individual displays that connect to form a single large screen. Highly customizable and offering flexible design options, LED walls have many benefits compared to traditional projectors.

“You can build LED walls into any size or shape you want—circles, squares, curved walls, or arches—any kind of wall is possible,” said Johnny Jan, director of creative services and marketing at RSN member, CPR Multimedia Solutions. “[By] incorporating LED panels, panel frames, lightboxes and printed fabric, you can create an exciting, visually impressive stage…to further maintain and sustain the attendees’ interest and engagement.”

This flexibility makes them easy to fit into booths to draw attention. While video is a great way to stand out, having a different shape or a creative use is even more eye-catching in the sea of a trade showfloor.

In addition to the numerous shapes and sizes LED walls can take, they have brighter and crisper images while occupying less space in the venue than projector/screen systems do, which makes them great for the showfloor. By their nature, projectors have a large footprint and require unimpeded space to anything passing in front of the projector, which takes up precious square footage that could be used by exhibitors, sponsors or attendees.

Anything happening at the event can be transmitted on the screens, according to Chip Lacure, business development at CMI AV.

“We’ve seen clients doing hide-and-seek competitions, scavenger hunts, giving prizes and awards—any kind of recognition—that can all be parlayed onto the screen and make interactive content during the event,” he says.

Don’t Rely Exclusively on Smartphones for Audience Response

Even though smartphones are taking over the world— Pew Research found 77 percent of American adults have one—that doesn’t mean you should rely on them exclusively for audience engagement. They can be a source of frustration on the showfloor or cost precious time in a breakout session, as they distract the audience.

“Using a phone as an audience response tool brings baggage that will alienate some people,” says Kinney. “Not everyone can or wants to use their phone. With keypads, everyone has the same technology. Plus, if the audience didn’t download the app in advance and then suddenly, 500 people need to get [it], it taxes the wi-fi and takes 10 minutes away from the event while everyone tries to download and figure out the app.”

An audience response system (ARS) is a fun way to make an event interactive. Available as keypad devices, mobile apps and texting numbers, they let the audience get involved. For example, “Ask the Audience” on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? uses keypads.

Connect with the History of the Trade Show

Just because something is old or low-tech doesn’t mean it’s outdated. Ultimately, the goal of AV is to deliver an engaging event and capture an audience’s attention.

“We have an event that has a flag presentation,” says Lacure. “It’s done with bagpipes, and that’s a 100-year-old tradition. AV is no different than that to get people engaged.”

Splicing old and new together—like bagpipes in a contemporary event—can reach across all demographics in an audience.

AV done right can bring everyone together and keep their attention while nodding to the history of the show that connects all attendees’ past and present. 


Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE and engage with us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.