Want to Have a Successful Booth? Create a Memorable Attendee Experience!

August 11, 2015

Walking the packed showfloor for the American Society of Association Executives’ Annual Meeting, held this week at Detroit’s Cobo Center, it was abundantly clear that the busiest booths, by far, were ones that created a really fun, engaging attendee experience.

Some booths went for the straight up business approach with salespeople standing at the ready to talk with customers about the company’s latest offerings, other booths had the traditional promotional items – stuffed animals, pens, water bottles, etc. – and others stepped it up a notch.

At the Visit Milwaukee booth, they decided to show off one of the local delicacies in their city – over-the-top Blood Mary drinks.

People lined up for not only the actual drink, but the garnish that included choices of sausage, cheese, pickles, olives and more. The drink (and food) was complemented by a colorful graphic display.

“We worked for months with an ad agency to develop something for the show and then we scrapped the whole concept 2-3 weeks ago,” said Megan Gaus, senior director of marketing and communications for Visit Milwaukee.

She added they decided to bring everything in-house and came up with the idea they took to the show. “Milwaukee is known for beer and cheese, but we have a pretty rich Bloody Mary scene, so we thought that might get some good booth traffic,” Gaus said.

And, their last-minute gamble paid off, in more ways than one. They poured 700 Bloody Marys, which translated to 700 leads, and, even better, the entire concept only cost a few thousand dollars.

“I’m really blessed to have a really talented team,” Gaus said. ASAE agreed, naming the booth second place in its “Best-in-show in-line booth contest.”

Another booth that created a lot of fun engagement was a2z, Inc.’s, where they showed off their ChirpE Photo Booth product.

Attendees stood in front of a green screen and were able to pick from a number of backgrounds and props, such as being in a rock band or in a cartoon.

“The ChirpE Photo Booth is making a huge impact on social media,” said Beth Hays Kepnes, director national sales. “It gets a lot of attention and drives value for the booth. The number of impressions exponentially increases, and people are just having so much fun!”

Some other booths that made an impact on the showfloor included the Geico booth that had a dizzying amount of activities going on at the same time. There was a claw machine in which people could try and win a small gecko or bigger stuffed animals. They had a 3-D printer making, of course, little green geckos they were giving away. And, if you filled out a short form on an iPad a wheel would automatically spin and you could pick from several different prizes.

During all of this prize giving, a life-size gecko walked around high-fiving everyone and music blared from speakers all over the booth. Yes, they were very, very busy.

Over in the Korea Tourism booth, they took a more subtle approach. People could dress up in ornate, silk robes and have their picture taken in front of a beautiful backdrop, or have their name hand-stamped in Korean letters on a colorful fan.

In the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau booth, they took the idea of loving their city to another level with signage proclaiming #LousivilleLove, tons of giveaways, such as an ice cube tray made specifically for bourbon, and salespeople dressed to the nines.

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission was back again with its extremely popular ‘Build-a-Bear’ exhibit at which attendees stood in long lines for a special stuffed animal to take back home.  

In all, there were a lot of booths that brought out their ‘A’ game at the ASAE annual meeting, and, as a result, the showfloor consistently was buzzing with energy from the minute the doors opened until they closed both exhibit hall days.

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