Exhibitors: Have some fun, would ya?!

A tribute to the cheery, optimistic trade show road warriors

I’ve always liked an expo hall that runs smoothly with all the exhibitors content – busy when they should be, and happily quiet when the traffic clears out. But you know what? There’s something to be said for a fun expo hall! The booths that gather a rowdy crowd or produce a lot of laughter tend to get a lot more traffic. And those that send people away with quirky gifts and prizes tend to draw greater numbers as time goes by. And let’s not forget those who serve wonderful treats at their booths!

I believe holding a drawing at your table is a great way to draw traffic and to collect business cards, and who wouldn’t want to win a gift card? But if you can make it a fun drawing, people will leave their business card with you and then go tell their friends about it. And they’ll probably establish a bit of an emotional connection with you and your company by having fun.

Even better than that, how about a game at your table? A roulette wheel? A variation on Putt-Putt golf or Monopoly? A magician? A fun little challenge that is rarely overcome but puts people into fits of laughter as they try? And, of course, no matter what you invite them to do, everyone has to be a winner. You don’t want anyone walking away empty handed, feeling like a loser.

There’s more to being a fun exhibitor though than having fun activities going on at your booth. You need to be fun too! In fact, you could be such an engaging exhibitor that people would return to your booth for a little more conversation. Is that bad? Do you want to give your speech and then push them away to make room for someone else to come and listen to you? Boy, I sure don’t. I want them to come back and tell me something funny they just witnessed because they already know my sense of humor. I want them to bring a friend to look at my fun swag. I want them to remember my first name and a cute little story we shared.

Do you know a few exhibitors who are always content with the trade show as it’s winding down and they’re packing up to leave? They were pleasant and outgoing and playful throughout the event, and now they’re happily packing up and moving on to the next event. Contrast them with the exhibitors who are always sweating the dearth of leads they’re getting, always nervously rearranging swag and literature, watching the crowd hungrily. Those are the ones who can’t wait to give that elevator pitch and write down a new lead, and who just can’t be happy unless they’re closing a deal. They’re no fun! They don’t enjoy themselves, and it’s hard to enjoy being around them.

So, why not consider lightening up a bit? The beauty of a trade show is that you get to meet so many fascinating people. Why not put some thought into how you might entertain them a little at your booth and trust that the emotional connection of laughter or a shared “aha” moment will be just as valuable as another business card in the glass bowl?