The Zen Of Trade Show Booths
April 20, 2017
At the 2017 EXHIBITORLIVE show in Las Vegas, Skyline’s “Experience the Trade Show Zen” exhibit won the Best of Show trophy for the Large Booth category. The exhibit was a 20 x 20 footprint, built 20 feet high, in the style of a Japanese Zen garden. It was an attention-grabbing departure from the high-energy displays many exhibitors opt for, and it perfectly supported the message that we can take the stress out of trade show exhibiting, so you can relax. This type of message and design could be effective for many types of products and brands. You don’t have to build a Zen garden to take advantage of the most successful points of this design, though. Here are some key points:
- Uncluttered Space - Tall walls give an open feel, while openings in the walls keep visitors from feeling shut-in. A clean, simple floor plan with a carefully designed lighting plan invites people to step inside and helps them to drop the guard they are likely keeping up while shouldering their way through the crowded show floor. Uncluttered design and effective lighting also make clear what it is that visitors are meant to pay attention to.
- A Calm Oasis - Inside the Zen garden exhibit, there are seats for visitors, along with tea and snacks, which all help to encourage longer visits. Creating a calm place for visitors to step out of the frenzy for a few minutes can be extremely effective if your team and exhibit interior are prepared to make the best use of that time. Slow people down with a cold bottle of water, which also gives your team an opening to strike up a conversation. Placing large multimedia or interactive presentation insight of seating helps wash your brand message gently over visitors as they rest, and if your presentation is interactive, the longer the visitor sits and watches it, the more strongly enticed they will be to try it themselves. Another option is to have your booth team ready to hand visitors a tablet to take part in the interactive experience while they sit and talk. Seating should be comfortable for a short rest, but if your exhibit includes sofas or large chairs, you may find non-prospects settling in for longer than you’d like; don’t let your exhibit become cat-nap central!
- An Unexpected Element - Aside from the overall surprise of a trade show exhibit using natural material like bamboo, and nature-inspired textures and colors, the Zen garden exhibit had a single, traffic-stopping feature, in the form of a digital koi pond. The life-like digital fish were placed on the aisle, and they served well in building buzz around the show and generating curiosity as to what else the exhibit held. This unexpected element was both harmonious with the exhibit’s theme and pleasantly discordant with what one would expect to find at a marketing trade show. It uses the retail merchandising “pig in the window” principle to grab the attention of passers-by, and spark their imagination as they think about what that thing is doing there.