Doing Trade Show Hospitality Right


When it comes to trade show hospitality, the weary souls who visit your booth aren’t just your potential customers — they’re your guests. Smart face-to-face marketers know how to leverage hospitality and design environments that draw in audiences for meaningful connection. Here are a few reasons to keep trade show hospitality top-of-mind for your next experience.

Know Your Audience

For many, the scent of fresh baked cookies stimulates both salivary glands and a sense of comforting nostalgia.

“Food is the great equalizer,” says Katie Bottrell, Group Delphi’s Vice President of Marketing and Growth. “Everyone needs to eat and almost everyone enjoys eating. Providing a welcoming environment and an appealing spread will guarantee interest and get people talking.”

That said, be sure to keep in mind who you want to attract to your exhibit.

“You must, above all else, know your audience,” reminds Bottrell. “For a certain demographic, fresh baked goods presented creatively (remember the donut wall trend from 2016?) are a tasty and highly Instagrammable attraction.”

For health food fans, Bottrell suggests a fresh smoothie or juice bar, with refreshments, served in compostable or reusable branded cups.

“There’s no one-snack-fits-all approach, so think deeply about how you engage and attract your audience,” she says.

Moreover, hospitality isn’t only about consumables — some audiences will gravitate toward a relaxing spa environment. Draw them in with subtle essential oil scents or a calming water feature. These elements provide an alluring sense of calm and respite from the hectic trade show floor.

Add Touches of Luxury and Exclusivity

“To provide the opportunity for deeper engagement with your most desirable customers, provide a VIP area with a selection of higher quality hospitality offerings,” says Bottrell. “An invite-only lounge created with a selection of beautiful barriers offers the opportunity for a curated engagement with your audience— without adding zeros to your final invoice.”

Also, be ready to roll out the luxury touches, which are often more thoughtful than expensive.

“Think about tiered giveaways and experiences. For a health expo, think about spa water and hand massages for VIPs. Or, hire a waiter to serve wine in an actual wine glass,” says Bottrell.

Make Your Layout Reflect Your Intentions

Leverage the hospitality offerings in your booth or event as attractions, guiding attendees to a focal point.

“Set your hospitality area or bar in a highly visible location,” says Bottrell. “If your offering is aligned with the desires of your audience, they simply won’t be able to resist stepping into your experience.”

Creating the right environment provides a context to spend more time with your visitors — and in turn, makes them your future best clients.

Need to up your trade show hospitality game for 30-somethings? Learn the 7 Essentials of Experiential Marketing to Millennials here.

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