Exhibitions can be crowded and fast-paced. If your firm is exhibiting, you only have a limited opportunity to stand out from the crowd, to make your stand really pop and get visitors flocking to see what your company has to offer.
So why not think outside the box a bit? Why not add something creative and unique to your stand, something that gets people posting pictures to Instagram?
We’ve thought of a few ideas – some conventional, some a bit whacky – that you might like to consider when setting up shop at your next conference, exhibition or trade fair. Read on.
Boiled sweets, hard mints, lollypops, pick n’ mix… exhibitions these days seem to resemble Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory as much as anything else. But sweets are always a big hit.
- Table football
As far as games go, table football is one of the best. It’s fun, competitive, and you won’t be chasing around after stray balls all the time.
This is sort of obvious: people love beer, and people love it even more if it’s free, even if it’s not very good beer. I once saw a beer-pouring robot at an event – the crowds were huge!
- Fun, on-brand decorations
Get some bunting up with your logo on it; cover a feature wall with branded wallpaper; cover your stand in little touches that really demonstrate your brand identity, and make it an attractive place to come and visit.
- Seasonal touches
Does your event take place at Hallowe’en? Why not add a spooky pumpkin and some novelty spider webs to your stand to give it a seasonal flavour.
- Arcade machines
These tend to be the sole province of pretentious craft beer bars, but nobody will turn down the opportunity to play Pac-Man or Streetfighter while they network.
- Branded notebooks
My Dad used to attend financial conferences, so I over the years he collected a frankly ludicrous amount of Morgan Stanley, Citibank and Deutsche Bank-branded moleskine notebooks. Ludicrous, certainly, but they always seem to fly off the stands.
Plants are proven to have a positive effect on wellbeing. Adding some to your stand (especially if they’re relevant in some way to your business) might help put visitors at ease. Some of them also look pretty.
- T-shirt printing
There’s a real buzz about t-shirt printing at events. People quite like the idea, and if you let visitors create customisable, branded t-shirts for free, they’ll flock to your stands with all their silliest ideas.
- Tote bags
Mine have ended up in a tote bag full of tote bags, but there’s something irresistible in this age of climate catastrophe about a branded bag to give you a fleeting impression that – in some small way – you’re helping.
I’m picturing some businessmen in suits awkwardly singing along to Uptown Girl in a four-metre square stand, but maybe you could do yours better.
- “Speed networking”
Chairs, tables, five minute chats, exchange of business cards, then switch round and do it all again. Expand your network in moments.
- Meeting space
Create a sectioned off area with a few tables and chairs and people will want to come and hold meetings there. In large corporate events, a quiet space often comes at a premium –make it easier for your visitors.
- Golf simulator
These often prove a hit. You get a virtual driving range set up: no balls, no clean up, no dramas, just a sectioned off area, a golf club-shaped controller and a big screen. Let visitors compete against each other.
You’re tired, I’m tired, everyone’s tired. Perk your visitors up with some brown liquid. Get someone with a beard and a check shirt to pour the coffee for extra authenticity.
- Social media screen
People tweet, it appears on a screen, and everyone can see your visitors’ whacky japes as they walk past your stand.
- Table tennis
Be sure to keep a hefty stock of balls on your stand, because you’re going to lose a lot.
- Virtual reality headset
If you have enough space to allow movement and prevent accidents, consider a fun virtual reality experience, letting visitors explore or interact with a product in the virtual realm.
- Some sort of vehicle
I’ve seen JCBs, coffee carts, forklift trucks, 4x4 cars and more. If your businesses produces or prominent uses vehicles, having one on your stand really makes it stand out.
- Mobile charging points
This is a winner. People, particularly at corporate events, need their phones at all times, and providing charging points can guarantee a steady stream of people desperate for some extra juice.
- Branded portable charger
Let them charge on the go with some branded portable charging devices.
- Eye-catching display of products
Come up with an interesting and arresting way of displaying your products and services, using interesting placement and lighting. Perhaps arrange them as if your stand is a miniature museum.
- Product demonstrations
Make that eye-catching display even more engaging by showing off your products in live demonstrations.
Produce leaflets, brochures and booklets with colourful graphics and good copy that explains what your firm offers. There are few better ways of getting a message across.
You would not believe how much delegates appreciate a place just to sit down, even after they realise you’re about to corner them with your sales pitch.
- Water bottle refill
Replenish a water cooler throughout the day so people can fill up their bottles, and get some environmental points.
- Free water bottles
Plus, if you really love turtles, hand out branded reusable water bottles!
- Celebrity guest
Obviously the definition of celebrity can be stretched here, but if guests get wind of a famous figure in the building, your stand will be heaving.
- Games console
Stick a couple of beanbags down and let visitors play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on Xbox One. Sorted.
- Retro games console
Stick a couple of beanbags down and let visitors play GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo 64. Sorted.
- Fortune teller
I see successful business deals in your future.
I’m referring to one of those games that measure the force of your punch; this is not a disparaging comment about the way you treat your staff.
- Tasty canapes
Keep people coming back to your stand with an offering of delicious snacks and canapes – the fancier the better. Or just crisps.
- Reaction game
Put up one of those fitness reaction wall things and give it a competitive element. People live for competition.
- Claw crane game
The claw decides who will stay and who will go. It might also get people to your stand to win some cool branded goodies.
- Scalextric track
What could be cooler? Race some F1 cars round a track, and put some little stickers on them so they’re sponsored by your company. Neat!
- TV screens
Create your own video content for an extra effect – don’t just stick on BBC Parliament, even if it’s the most popular thing on television.
- Auto sign-up to your service
If signing up to your service is usually a fairly lengthy process, why not let visitors skip some of the rigmarole if they do so on your stand instead?
- Inventive stand layout
Imagine if your stand wasn’t just a desk and a barstool in front of a bowl of free sweets. Imagine if it was a maze. That sounds annoying, but it could also be a unique way of introducing some concepts to your visitors.
- A unique object
I’m picturing a World War II-era torpedo, slap bang in the middle of your exhibiton space. That’s cool and instagrammable.
Add some ambient music to your stand, or introduce a live string quartet to add a touch of class.
- A piano
Why not? Let visitors have a go at their favourite pieces like at St. Pancras railway station, or hire someone to play showtunes for the day.
I once attended an event in which an exhibitor prominently displayed a live owl on its stand. It became something of a viral sensation.
These could be cultural (to reflect your product’s regional or national origins) or simply ludicrous (to reflect fun).
- Pinball machine
That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball – and so can your visitors. It’s fun, retro, and people will come to your stand to play.
Not just for kids.
I was initially thinking free, branded pens, but then I realised this could also refer to a fun penalty shoot-out game. Do that, too.
- Silent disco
There’s nothing weirder than a group of people dancing around in total silence. It’s certainly eye-catching, though.
Get that must-have workplace accessory, and keep your cardkey on your person at all times!
Give out some nice, branded stickers to visitors. People like stickers; they can put them on notebooks and laptops for a touch of individuality.
As above, but you can pin these on a denim jacket like all the cool kids.
- Professional headshots
A conference I once went to had a one-hour wait for free professional headshots. These go down a treat.
- Green screen
People can have their photo taken in front of it, only to have the background cleverly changed to something fun on the computer.
- Exclusive sign-up perks
Get visitors to sign up to your service on your stand, but sweeten the deal with an exclusive perk, bonus or saving they can only get from registering at the event.
- Exclusive on-stand content
Add even more exclusivity with content or presentations about relevant topics guests can only find on your stand.
Guess how many sweets are in this jar on our stand. If you do, we’ll give you a branded notebook. Or a special offer on our products.
- A nice glossy brochure
It’s just quite nice to look through a nice glossy brochure full of text and images that really make your brand pop. It’s even nicer if you can pick one up for free from an exhibition stand.
- Good conversations
Ultimately, no matter what goodies your stand offers, event guests want to build their network and bring results back to the board, so make sure they can.
- Stuffed toys
Cute! Cuddly! Branded! The perfect lazy gift to take home to your young child!
- Pop-up workshops
Schedule a few casual workshops to introduce visitors to some of your firm’s the ideas and strategies. Conference guests always appreciate free content.
Add a splash of colour to your stand with some artwork. Certain businesses might benefit from concept art of their product, while others might just want to make their stand more attractive.
- Unique regional products
For instance, if an exhibitor is from Georgia, they might offer a tasting session of Georgian wine. Not too much, mind you.
- Fairground game-style attraction
Like a shooting range, or a whack-a-mole, or a Tivoli’s legendary Galoppen. Make it themed for extra points.
Balloons are fun. Put your logo on them.
- Heavy machinery
Obviously this is quite event-dependent, but if your firm deals with heavy machinery in some way, having it on-stand can be quite striking, and a powerful visual demonstration of what you do.
This is a pretty easy thing to include. All you need is a chair or a bench and a professional masseuse. After a busy day roaming around an event space, your visitors will appreciate this.
- Air hockey
Air hockey is an adrenaline-packed table game that gets the pulses racing. It might get people to your stand, too, and doesn’t need to take up too much space.
In Japan, almost every company and public service has a colourful, costumed mascot. Maybe your company does too – bring them along!
What’s this all about?
Exhibiting at events is guaranteed to generate a return-on-investment. Research by FaceTime reveals 76% of visitors at B2B and B2C events make new purchasing decisions, and the perception of the quality of your brand improves by 21% after an event. That means a good stand leaves a lasting impression.
But you need to be sure people are coming to your stall, and standing out from the crowd and offering real value (even if that value is a sense of fun) to visitors can ensure a steady stream of people is being exposed to your product. After all, if nobody notices your stand, nobody will notice your product or service either.