Reimagined Expo Experiences

When it comes to reimagining your tradeshow floor, there is a lot we can learn from large customer events such as Dreamforce, Oracle OpenWorld or Microsoft Ignite. In these designed hub experiences you won’t see pipe and drape, bright white lights or a clean 10’ x 10’ grid. Instead, you’ll experience an abundance of learning theaters, interactive experiences, turnkey demo kiosks and soft lighting.

While these experiences can cost significant money to create, small- and mid-sized associations are realizing that they need more than expo booths to make their show floors compelling enough for participants to spend time there.

Without losing any revenue, one of our healthcare association clients decided to eliminate the expo and replace it with a hub experience that features a handful of top-tier sponsors. Another scientific conference created neighborhoods and developed numerous themed areas for poster presentations.

Several clients have successfully adopted solution circles. These are curated and sponsored intimate conversations on the show floor designed to help attendees develop solutions for their most complex problems.

What innovative experiences have you seen to help transition the expo floor to a learning destination?
September 2019
Video: Velvet Chainsaw's Sarah Michel on Transforming Your Expo Into a Networking & Learning Destination

In this recap of a Velvet Chainsaw session at IAEE's Expo! Expo!, we discuss how buying habits have changed and how progressive show organizers can align purchasing shifts by infusing their exhibit floors with solutions-based, bite-sized learning experiences.
Attracting and keeping quality attendees on your show floor isn't getting any easier. The trade show of the future will focus on helping over selling, which is best accommplished by delivering valuable education in the the exhibit hall. Here are a few lessons learned that may help increase your chances of successfully offering education on the show floor.

Being inspired by other’s fresh ideas and conference features is in itself a good thing. The challenge is understanding those ideas within the context of your own event, and thinking through how they might improve your conference participants’ experience. Show-floor education theaters provide a good example: It’s a smart move to make your expo more educational, but about half of the attempts that I’ve witnessed have failed miserably.

The seventh of the TED Commandments — “Thou shalt not sell from the stage: neither thy company, thy goods, thy writings, or thy desperate need for funding; lest thou be cast aside into outer darkness” — is especially timely advice for those turning their expos into learning destinations.