How to Crush Your Competition at the Next Trade Show

May 2, 2018

Bianca Bujan

Bianca Bujan is a freelance writer, editor and a PR and marketing consultant for TapSnap Photo Booths, an industry leader in event entertainment with over 160 locations around the world. 

Trade show marketing is a great way to put your brand in front of your target audience through face-to-face demos and interactions. Unfortunately, trade show marketing can also be very competitive, as it's likely that many others at your trade show are offering the same product or service, and trying to appeal to the exact same audience.

With hundreds or even thousands of booths all set up at the same show, how can you make your business truly stand out? How can you generate leads without losing the attention of your potential customers to your competitors, even though you're all set up in the same space with the same offerings?

Here are some tips to help you crush your competition at the next trade show so you can shine the spotlight on your business instead of getting lost in the crowd.

Choose wisely.

Don't just book a booth at an industry-related event, think strategically about who your ideal audience would be and where they would go to suit their interests. For example, if you own a floral boutique, you'd want to explore more trade show options than simply floral and gardening events. You would want to consider wedding shows, conferences for event planners and perhaps even craft shows that highlight the work of local artisans. It'll be much easier to stand out among vendors of all types than in a sea of other florists.

Make a lasting first impression.

They say not to judge a book by its cover but when it comes to trade show booths, looks definitely matter. Whether you choose to go for a bolder color palette or keep it modern with a monochromatic look, it's important to stay on brand without being bland. Choose decor that pops and pair it with eye-catching, interactive elements so that attendees don't just walk by, they stop in – and stay.

Be proactive.

This may seem obvious, but so many trade show booth hosts sit and wait for potential customers to come to them. If you really want to draw in a crowd, stand up, be proactive and start conversations. In doing so, it's important to remember that you don't want to dive in with a sales pitch or toss your business card into the hands of your prospects, at least not right away. Instead, try to connect with them on a personal level. Chat them up, gage their interest/need for your product or service, and go from there!

Generate buzz at your booth.

People are drawn to crowds. When someone walks by and sees a group of guests having fun, FOMO (fear of missing out) kicks in and they can't help but stop to see what all the fuss is about! Make sure you include an interactive experience so that guests will not only pop in but also stick around! Adding a photo booth to your display is a great way to get guests to interact with your brand, have fun and extend your brand reach beyond the walls of your booth through social media sharing and photo printing.

Tempt them with a takeaway.

When your booth guests leave, you'll want to remain top-of-mind. Be sure to send them away with fun swag that they'll want to keep, and include your branding and contact information should they decide to reach out to you in the future. Think beyond the pens and pins and create a takeaway item that is truly unique to your business!

When done right, setting up a trade show booth can be a great way to reach your target audience, generate new leads and most importantly, drive new business! Be sure to create a compelling set-up, offer something engaging and interactive to draw in traffic, then send them away with a memorable keepsake and you'll see great results.

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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.