Tips from the Trenches: 10 (Mostly) Tried and True Exhibitor Booth Ideas 

If you plan events for B2B companies, you know that exhibiting at industry events is critical to driving brand awareness, generating new leads for your sales team, and engaging with existing customers. And the bigger the event, the larger your potential pool of valuable contacts–but bigger events also mean more competition for the attendees’ attention.

However, turning attendees into qualified leads for your organization requires more than just nabbing a prime spot on the show floor and hoping people flock to your booth.

It’s not about having the biggest space or the flashiest booth design (though that certainly doesn’t hurt!).

In order to attract more foot traffic, book more meetings, and capture more leads, you need to find creative ways to stand out from the crowd–before, during, and after an event. Not only do you need to leverage pre-event promotion to get on attendees’ radar and design a booth that grabs attention and creates a positive impression onsite, but you also need to give them a reason to connect with you and learn about your brand.

In other words, you need to make the most of your company’s presence at every event–which is something planner Alistair Fernandes has quite the knack for, honed over 16 years at events including IMEX America, BCTECHSummit, and DiscoveryX Conference and Trade Show

Below, we’re sharing 10 tried and true exhibitor booth ideas that Alistair has used at recent events to create buzz, drive qualified traffic, and help salespeople start conversations with new leads and customers. Plus, get a sneak peek at one completely fresh idea he’s excited to try next!

10 Exhibitor Booth Ideas That Will Help You Stand Out from the Crowd

The goal for any B2B event booth design and activation should be to create an experience that engages attendees onsite and motivates them to follow up with your team post-event. 

Today, we’ll look at the most effective and creative ways Alistair has elevated his booth experiences to achieve organizational event goals. 

Craft an Immersive Pop-Up Experience

Your booth is an opportunity to create your own branded world. Drawing inspiration from successful B2C pop-up shops such as SKIMS and Glossier, look for opportunities to turn your booth into a cohesive branded experience. 

For example, at CSAE Tête-à-Tête, EventMobi’s sponsorship of a lounge area offered a unique opportunity to create an engaging, branded experience for guests looking to rest, refuel, or network over refreshments in between sessions. Alistair leveraged a monochromatic color scheme using EventMobi’s signature orange for his tablecloths, backdrops, and swag. 

He designed packaging for drinks and snacks in the same shade for a unified look and feel and guests were free to help themselves to branded swag, like orange notebooks and pens. And when attendees left the lounge with an EventMobi-branded treat in hand, they helped drive additional brand awareness as they walked around the show.

When it comes to pulling off a pop-up-like experience at your booth, Alistair emphasizes that consistency is key. Not only is color-coordinating your booth and giveaways a great way to grab attendees’ attention, but it also contributes to the overall impression that attendees have stepped into a cleverly branded world—just like a memorable pop-up shop experience.

“From snack packets and tablecloths to swag and banners, branding every element of your booth with your color scheme and logo helps you stand out from other exhibitors on the trade show floor,” says Alistair.

Engaging attendees with your activation is just the first step: Once they’re at your booth and chatting with your team, you’ll want a Lead Capture App to simplify follow-up and make it easy for your sales team to continue the conversation after the event.

Think Local, Act Local

Is there anything that draws attendees to a booth quite like a giveaway (especially if the prize is on display at your booth)? You already know the pull of an eye-catching gift basket—people will swing for their chance to win. But how many of them will think twice about your brand once they’ve entered and moved on to the next booth?

One simple yet brilliant way to make your giveaway memorable is by partnering with local businesses to source prizes. And that’s exactly what Alistair did at IMEX America and NWES.

Partner with Local Suppliers

At IMEX, Alistair partnered with a local supplier in Ottawa for a gift basket giveaway packed full of treats from local vendors. The orange baskets were on-brand and were a huge hit with attendees thanks to the meaningful connection to the local community. 

Similarly, Alistair worked with Seattle-based BiteSociety to create an eye-catching gift basket filled with local products at NWES 2024. Once again, interest in the raffle was driven by his selection of unique, local products. This allowed Alistair to capture a high number of new contacts to nurture post-event when they shared their contact details to enter the prize draw. 

How you can do this: When participating in a region-specific trade show, look for relevant local partners to provide branded prizes and giveaways with locally-produced products. This thoughtful touch will resonate with your audience.

Plus, working with local suppliers and businesses has the added benefit of simplifying pre-event logistics. Since it was easy for Alistair to pick up the baskets from a location close to the venue, there were no shipping costs or logistical challenges that could come from ordering gift baskets with perishable goods.

Integrate Thoughtful, Personalized Services

Getting a professional headshot taken is a necessary evil for even the most camera-shy professionals. Not to mention, booking dedicated studio time with a photographer typically costs hundreds of dollars! 

As Alistair puts it: “Whatever helps people professionally will always be a good activation.” So, at IMEX Frankfurt, Alistair created a professional headshot studio at the EventMobi booth, making it quick and easy for attendees to update their LinkedIn profiles with a shiny new headshot. 

Attendees who booked meetings with the sales team had the opportunity to strike a pose before they moved on to their next appointment and the final, edited image was delivered to them in a post-event email. Not only did this activation offer a high-value service, but it also encouraged attendees to follow up with EventMobi once they were back at work!

“It’s easy to use booth space inefficiently,” says Alistair. “For instance, a big table full of swag isn’t always good for traffic flow. But this activation allowed us to make really good use of our 10×10 space.”

The key to this type of activation is providing services that offer true value to attendees beyond promotional swag. Help them in their professional roles, save time, or make their trade show experience more enjoyable and productive. With thoughtful services personalized to your event audience, you can effectively engage participants while collecting leads for follow-up.

Pro tip: If your event organizer is using a Mobile Event App, find out if you can send messages to attendees pre-event to promote onsite activations. This is an effective way to drive appointment bookings and get people interested in visiting your booth before the show even starts!

Encouraging attendees to book appointments ahead of time has the added benefit of helping you plan and staff your booth efficiently.

“For IMEX, we anticipated that we’d have fewer appointments than we did–and then we were overbooked! This is a good problem to have, but anything that helps gauge that ahead of time is beneficial.” – Alistair

Be the Hero Attendees Need (and Deserve!)

Spare your attendees from the burden of navigating the show floor laden with heavy swag, drained batteries, and weary feet. Provide thoughtful conveniences such as charging stations, branded swag bags for easy carrying, and comfortable seating areas for relaxation or dining.

When you’re coming up with swag or service ideas designed to improve the attendee experience, focus on convenience. “Most people appreciate anything they might need during a long day at an event,” says Alistair. “That’s why at Tete a Tete, we set up tables where people could eat and bean bag chairs for anyone looking for a spot to relax.”

Here are a few of Alistair’s top suggestions for booth ideas that are always a hit among event attendees:

Charging Stations

Charging stations placed in prominent areas of your booth can be a lifesaver for attendees trying to conserve phone battery while navigating the show. Offer a variety of charging cables to accommodate both Android and iPhone users. If possible, provide standing tables near the charging area so attendees can use their devices while charging.

Branded Swag Bags

Branded swag bags are a practical freebie that also provides great advertising as attendees continue using the bags long after the trade show ends. Choose bags made of durable, sustainable materials like eco-friendly cotton canvas or upcycled materials

Showcase your filled bags around your booth to drive interest in what you’re giving away. Consider including your booth number, social media handles, and a special show promo code inside each bag.

A Comfy Spot to Sit

Comfortable seating invites attendees to relax and spend more time engaging with your exhibitors. Chairs and sofas should be neatly arranged to allow open flow for booth traffic. High bar table seating also encourages visitors to linger. Having a seating area for meals and snacks is another great draw. Keep decor cohesive with other branding elements for optimal effect.  

By anticipating and providing solutions for common trade show pains like dead phones, armfuls of brochures, and tired feet, you show attendees that you care about their experience. This thoughtful approach makes your brand more memorable.

Embrace the Competitive Spirit

Don’t forget to harness the power of friendly competition! If the tradeshow organizer has created a gamification challenge within the event’s mobile app to help drive traffic around the show floor, ensure anyone who visits your booth is aware of the challenge–and have booth staff give out your code as an easy way to break the ice!

Usually, trade show organizers offer the opportunity to increase your company’s sponsorship to ensure your company appears at the top of the challenge list. This will be money well spent, as getting a top spot on the challenge list will increase visibility and drive attendees to visit your booth first to get the code.

Alistair also recommends prominently showcasing both your gamification challenge code and an enticing prize at your booth. You can also tease your code in pre-event communications to build anticipation and awareness.

Bonus: Commission Local Artists for One-of-a-Kind Swag

Take inspiration from limited-edition fashion drops that create lines that go for miles. Find a local artist and partner with them to design custom, branded swag and gear.

This is a concept Alistair and his team are particularly excited about—though he has yet to fully execute it! He’s already working with a local artist who does cool, funky, graffiti-style designs to create EventMobi t-shirts for booth staff—plus some extra stuff to give away!

Curious to see how this turns out? Swing by EventMobi’s booth at IMEX Frankfurt 2024 May 14-16 to see the results in person and for the chance to get your hands on this limited-edition design.

Turn Your Booth Into a Powerful Touchpoint for Your Brand

A successful event doesn’t just create brand awareness, it sparks new connections, conversations, and client relationships.

Trade shows present a valuable opportunity to grow your database and connect with potential clients. The more attendees on the show floor, the more opportunities you have to make a great impression and quickly turn cold leads into qualified contacts for your sales team to follow up with.

We hope these creative exhibitor booth ideas inspire you to try something new at your upcoming events! If you have any questions or fresh ideas of your own that you’re trying out, we’d love to hear about it.

Want to learn more about how event technology can help you keep the conversation going after an event? Book your personalized demo of EvenMobi today!