The Evolving world of Face to Face Marketing and in-booth engagement

When I began in this business in 1994 the biggest challenge we faced was how to get a VCR to play a looping video of a client’s promotional material.  Netscape Navigator was the first commercially launched web browser, and folks like Amazon, Yahoo, and YouTube were only in their beginning stages.  Attendees back then were engaged by (hopefully) savvy booth staffers who knew how to engage, qualify and present their companies products or services.  The booth staff drove the presentation.  Technology as it is today didn’t exist and most was used for general presentations and was not at all interactive.

Fast forward to 2018.  There are now an estimated 45 billion, Yes BILLION! Web sites and roughly 4 billion web users.  Many of those users are now strolling the show floor looking to “interact” with you and your exhibit.  Only this time it’s different.  Your booth visitors want to run the presentation!  They want to decide what they look at and how they interact with it.  The current-day attendee wants information and wants it fast.  How we communicate it is very important in the digital age of social media, web, and interactive engagement.

A recent 2017 Floor Engagement Study done by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research found that over 75% of all attendees visiting an exhibit want to interact with products or information (see, touch, manipulate) and over 90% want to be approached an engaged by a booth staffer.  These are two driving factors that keep attendees engaged within a booth space.  The first is the quality of the booth staff interaction and behavior.  The second is how the attendee is engaged by the staff and exhibit.  In most cases an attendee wants to drive the information gathering, not be force-fed by an unqualified staffer.  This is why staff engagement along with supporting technology that an attendee can interact with is so important.

In today’s trade show environment an atmosphere of discovery is a must.  Attendees must be drawn into exhibits with dynamic examples of new products, technologies, or services.  Moving imagery, smartboard demonstrations, interactive touch screens and attendee driven interfaces are crucial to keep the folks in your booth engaged so you can further qualify and present your case.

A growing trend amongst larger exhibitors (over 60% of these folks employ this tactic) is to feature “Creature comforts” such as plush seating/meeting areas, charging stations, and food/beverages.  This tactic is seeing increased use by exhibitors as well.  Implementing just a few of these tactics will keep your audience engaged and allow your booth staff to do their job and promote your brand at the face to face level!