7 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make With Their In-Booth Activities

7 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make With Their In-Booth Activities

We want you to succeed when you exhibit. Avoid these 7 common mistakes when coming up with your in-booth activity via @samueljsmith

By Samuel J. Smith, Managing Director of Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC

As a developer of interactive trade show games, we’ve had the good fortune to participate with hundreds of exhibitors as they research, select and execute their in-booth activities. And while we’ve seen many succeed, along the way we’ve unfortunately seen exhibitors repeatedly make the same 7 avoidable mistakes:

  1. Waited too long to start choosing an in-booth activity

Because of the astounding amount of details required to manage a company’s trade show activity, exhibitors are notoriously overworked and time-starved. That means many of them wait until the show is almost upon them until they start looking for an activity to host in their booth.  By then they are so anxious to have any activity in their booth, they jump on the first passable idea they find.  With better planning, they could have taken the time to brainstorm and select a better in-booth activity.  Even worse? They may have waited so long that they throw up their hands and do nothing.

  1. Chose an in-booth activity that isn’t on-brand

While exhibitors’ main goal for an in-booth activity is to drive more booth traffic, they should also be mindful of the activity’s effect on their brand.  If that activity doesn’t mesh with the exhibitor’s brand, then they will actually cause confusion and damage to their reputation. So, exhibitors need to choose activities that will reinforce their company’s personality and brand attributes – not fight them.  And another aspect the activity should match besides brand? Be appealing to the exhibitor’s target audience demographics.

  1. Didn’t promote their in-booth activity before the show

While an interesting and engaging in-booth activity will pull people out of the aisles by itself, exhibitors can get even more attendees with pre-show promotion announcing their in-booth activity. Exhibitors can boost interaction with their in-booth activity with pre-show promotions across multiple media:

  • Emails sent to the show’s pre-registered attendee list and their own sales and marketing database
  • Social media messages, both free and paid, published on their major social media accounts, using the show’s hashtag
  • Postcards and dimensional mailers to key prospects and customers
  • Telemarketing by their sales team to known prospects attending the show
  1. Didn’t train booth staffers on their involvement in the in-booth activity

Why train booth staffers?  Training is essential if booth staffers are actively involved in executing In-booth activities.  Then they need to know what their roles are, how to actually do the activity, and how to transition a “player” into a lead.  And even if the activity is completely performed by a third-party (such as an entertainer or event agency), it still requires the involvement of booth staffers.  Booth staffers need to know how to convert people who stopped to watch or participate in the activity into leads.  And if the activity is very successful, booth staffers need to know how to “work the line” and find the qualified leads among the people waiting to do the activity.

  1. Placed a good in-booth activity in the wrong spot in the booth

What’s the point of hosting an activity that can’t be seen? Since most exhibitors choose an in-booth activity to catch people’s eyes as they walk down the aisle, then their activities need to be placed next to the aisle.  Even better, the activity is placed next to the busiest traffic aisles.  That said, some activities are best situated in more private settings, because the exhibitor wants to prevent distractions and keep the attendee in their booth longer. Exhibitors need to work with their designers to set the proper stage.

  1. Lack enough staff to handle peak waves of traffic

Some exhibitors are fortunate to create an in-booth- activity that really bring in a crowd.  Unfortunately, their flow of attendees is rarely uniform, but has peak times where there are more visitors than they can handle.  And then? Hard-earned leads are lost.  To fix this, exhibitors can scale up their booth staff rosters in anticipation of peak traffic needs, not just average traffic needs.  Exhibitors can also bring self-serve in-booth activities that can capture leads, so interested, unattended visitors can still ask to be contacted.

  1. Didn’t capture lead data in exchange for in-booth activity or giveaway

Unless an exhibitor’s overriding goal is raising brand awareness, it’s a big mistake to host an activity or giveaway a promotional item without capturing the attendee’s lead data.  And this is a very common mistake: in a recent SocialPoint survey, 61% of exhibitors said they had experienced not capturing lead data who took a giveaway.  Exhibitors must plan when and how during the in-booth activity they will request and gather lead data, or else attendees will slip away anonymously.

Exhibitors can host a successful in-booth activity that facilitates their trade show goals, if they plan ahead, stay on brand, promote their activity before the show, train their booth staff, place the activity in the proper booth location, anticipate peak traffic times, and capture lead data.


Samuel J. Smith is a thought leader, researcher, speaker and award-winning innovator on event technology. In 2011, BizBash Magazine added Sam to its annual innovators list. Since then, Sam has won awards from Exhibitor Magazine, IBTM World, RSVP MN, International Live Events Association and MPI for innovation in event technology. You can read more from Sam at http://www.socialpoint.io and reach him by email at samueljsmith@socialpoint.io.

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