Unique Ways to Engage Your Event Attendees

When competing with so many other booths, it can be difficult to capture the attention of attendees, let alone convince them stop by to have a conversation with you. The lights, sounds, music, and swag are all so distracting and event guests have so many options for where to go and what to see in between sessions. You need more than just a fishbowl and some free buttons to attract visitors these days!

The times are changing, and if you don’t keep making your show set-up more innovative, attendees–or potential customers– will continue to walk on by. It’s time to ditch the spinning prize wheel and free mints and take extra measures to make your booth and attendee experience all the more memorable and enticing! We did some research on some of the top trends at trade shows; check them out and implement them at your shows — they’re sure to get attendees buzzing about your booth on and off Twitter!

Go the Extra Mile

Photo Booth

Selfies are a kind of art, and through viral posts, news headlines, and just general human behavior around us, we can see that it’s always a good time to take a selfie! Setting up a photo booth at your trade show is a fun and engaging activity for your guests! You can easily do so with a camera, tablet, and tripod. Printing a backdrop with your brand’s logo or putting your logo on a prop is great way to get your name out there in a photo that’s being shared with an attendee’s friends, family, or colleagues. If you’re looking for one step above a background with party props of cardboard glasses and mustaches,– an interactive photo booth could be a great investment that will be sure to rope people’s attention in.


At Adobe MAX 2016, the software company set up an intricate booth that literally had guests bouncing off the wall. If you opt to have the photos sent via email, creating a frame with your URL and company logo is a great way to drive traffic back to your company.

We always have a fun together

Instagram, one the largest photo-sharing apps, set up these fake clouds that allows people to gleefully take dreamy selfies and photos. Displays like this that take guests out of their normal setting are a big hit and definitely make an event extraordinary.

Another fun photo booth idea is to have a Polaroid camera available. Attendees love getting a physical printed photo to take home or hang up on their desk. Investing in a camera and film could be a relatively affordable alternative to designing a more elaborate display.

guidebook pro tip


Don’t forget to create a hashtag for those photos! Include it in your backdrop to ensure nobody forgets. #BestBoothEver



Fun and Games

The traditional spinning wheel is an all-time classic because it’s easy and keeps foot traffic at a minimum. It also provides the prospect of an “easy” prize. At a trade show you don’t have a lot of time to keep an attendee engaged so this has been the default activity for many booths. However, the wheel is getting a little old and guests are starting to look the other way when they see a spinning wheel sitting on a table. Some other fun activities include:

  • Plinko. Is the price right? Plinko is a lively game that’s as simple as spinning a wheel but not overplayed. Creating a DIY Plinko board is also really easy and doesn’t take up a lot of space! The player drops a ball or disc into a slot on board and as it descends down, its path is altered by pegs. You can write in your own prizes at the bottom!
  • Scratch Cards. Everyone loves Lady Luck. Scratch cards are an effortless, yet alluring way to attract visitors looking to take a chance. Since they are small in size, it’s very easy to hand out and convenient to store with the other handout or flyers that you may already have. Who doesn’t like to to take a chance with luck?
  • Video Games. Having video games at your booth is an excellent way to pull people into your booth and have them stay for more than a fleeting second. Although this requires more of a technology commitment, it’s an attractive option for attendees who have time to burn or simply love playing games. You can really tap into people’s nostalgia with arcade style games that are very portable, such as an Atari. It’s the perfect marriage of tech and old school!
  • Mini-Golf. Who doesn’t like golf? Many people daydream at work about the ol’ course and improving their swing. Relatively easy to make yourself or purchase online, you can make a mini-course with green turf and marking score zones. Whether they win a prize or not, it’ll be an entertaining experience for guests who stop by!
  • Trivia. Trivia provides entertainment, intellectual gratification, and prizes! A good round of trivia is an interactive and engaging activity that allows attendees to speak up as well as a good opportunity to subtly teach them about your product or service. No longer just at pubs and Happy Hour, trivia is making its way big on mobile. Over 1.2 million people logged on to play the mobile game, “HQ Trivia” in one night.


On-Demand Geofilters

Image Source: Snapchat

Filters have established their important place in #selfie culture. Chances are, a lot of attendees will be posting about their presence or arrival to a trade show. Snapchat provides an option to create a geofilter that is available on their app according to a person’s location. You have complete control of the design of your filter and can encourage people to stop by your booth. This is also a creative way to build strong brand awareness and let attendees know that you’re present before they even step into the exhibit hall. You can select the distance of where your filter will be located and for how long! Social media mavens will love this.

Charging Station

One of the worst things to happen at a show is finding out your much-needed device is running low on battery and there’s no available outlet to charge it back to green. For many people, we need our devices to reply to emails, send updates or photos to the rest of the team from the show, or even to find places to eat or call a car. Providing a charging station is a friendly and hospitable attraction for attendees looking to get off their feet and charge their devices. Since they (hopefully) won’t have their phones to be distracted, it’s the perfect time to strike up a conversation as they are sitting at your booth. A charging station can be easily made with just a few extra extension cords and a handful of iPhone and Android charging cables.

The Newest Swag

Despite all the fun activities that are provided, a lot of traffic in the exhibit hall stems from attendees trying to uncover the very best free prize to take home. It’s arguably what people look forward to the most. Creating and putting your logo on a piece of swag may not be the cheapest task, but your brand’s name will physically leave the conference. Word travels through mouth, and chances are if your giveaway is especially exciting, people will flock to your booth. However, having some printed pens or stress balls might not be enough to get people to come find your company.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding what swag to buy:

  • Are there any hot fads or trends going on? Fidget spinners were all the rage in 2017, and they were relatively cheap to make.
  • What would be useful for your audience? Although some items may look cool, is there any reason why an attendee would use it again? It would be a shame to invest so much into something that will just end up in the trash.
  • How will we transport this? Will it economically make sense to transport these items? What will you do if you have some leftover? Can you bring it back to the office?
  • Are we allowed to have this at the exhibit hall? Something that many people may forget is whether something is allowed at the venue or not. Many trade shows have strict rules and regulations for what sponsors can and cannot bring or do. For example, sweet treats sounds like a tasty prize, but food may be prohibited from being served in the exhibit hall.

What Not to Do

We’ve talked about fun ways to keep your attendees engaged, now let’s take a look at things you should not do.

  • Being unprepared. You should have a list of questions and answers prepared for your staffers. It will not bode well if curious attendees are met with, “I don’t know” when asking about your service or product.
  • Unfriendly body language. Guests won’t want to stop by if they see hosts busy on their phones, crossing their arms, or too busy talking amongst themselves to greet anyone around them.
  • Talk smack. More often than not, many of your competitors will be in close distant, trying to reel in the same customers as you. However, it would be very unprofessional to argue, start rumors, or attack your fellow sponsors in an enclosed space.
  • Mess up your booth. This booth may be your room for the next few days, but you’ve got to keep it clean. Ensure that trash is thrown away, your pile of handouts or giveaways are neatly arranged, and that your personal belongings are safely stored away as there will be a lot of foot traffic.
  • Have an empty booth. Staying organized and on schedule is key to keeping your booth fully staffed and running. Without a written schedule, staffers could all take breaks at the same time and leave the booth unattended.

Utilizing Mobile Technology

Providing all the information that an attendee will need during the conference is an essential part of having a successful trade show. Forget giant printed signs and handing out agendas, a mobile app is the most efficient and effective way to keep your attendees organized. With an event mobile app, you can:

  • Send instant push notifications. Deliver important updates to attendees’ home screens, even if the app isn’t open.
  • Provide an in-depth calendar. List all the sessions and associated speaker information. Attendees can create their own schedule within the app with this useful feature.
  • Push last minute updates. The future is unpredictable. Your schedules, interactive maps, and lists can all be changed instantly to reflect any last-minute changes.
  • Gather feedback. Send surveys straight to your attendee’s mobile device. Chances are, they’ll take the time to complete them since it’s easily accessible on their phone.

Prepare for your next event

Now that you’re a trade show expert, it’s time to show off your new found knowledge and set up the most engaging conference booth that your company has had yet. If you’d like to learn more about Guidebook’s Mobile App Platform, click the button below to see our product in action!

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