Exhibitions—whether geared to the consumer or b-to-b—are experiential in nature. Visitors are submerged in the experience—whether it be walking the showfloor, attending educational sessions or going to networking events.
MAGIC’s use of Mandalay Bay was hip: They very successfully incorporated the concrete floor of the convention center into the décor and overall feel of the show. There was also great use of very high-end furniture and accessories in the tent erected in the parking lot of the venue. You knew you were at a fashion event.
GameStop’s Expo and Conference is held annually for employees of the retailer and their best clients. There, they have a chance to play new video games on the newest technology, much of it not available for sale until the end of the year, and find out what’s on the gaming horizon. Think E3 for the public, only smaller. The show had the feel of a live video game—no overhead lighting in the hall, video characters walking around and numerous photo opportunities, including a green screen photo booth where attendees could have their pictures taken in costumes as the background became their favorite video game.
Both shows created an experience. You knew they had their attendees in mind! For example, let’s take the lounges. GameStop had plenty of seating areas with tables for parents and kids to sit and eat a meal. MAGIC had themed areas with comfortable seating, games, DJs, bars and even chandeliers!
If you’re still doing the same old floor plan with the same exhibitors in the same spaces, and the same exact fake-like park setting as a lounge or “theme” area, how are you creating a new experience for your attendees? You aren’t. Talk to your general contractor.
Talk to your convention center. Find out what kinds of new, fun props they may have created for corporate clients that you can rent.
Think outside of the box! Same old crap, different day is over. Challenge your teams to be creative. Try new things. Redesign the experience. Change can be good.
Stephanie S. Selesnick is president of International Trade Information, a longtime global exhibition industry specialist helping U.S show organizers increase international participation in their exhibitions and a well-known speaker and trainer. Follow her on Twitter at @stephselesnick.