I’m on the plane back from Las Vegas after an exciting few days at IMEX and I’m still buzzing from the experience of meeting so many suppliers from around the country and the world. Walking the floor at the Sands Conference Center is a heady experience, with so many different colors, textures and sounds coming at you from so many angles. I scheduled several appointments ahead of time, but I left plenty of time to just wander. It’s how I like to experience things best, seeing what hits me and encourages me to stop and talk for a while. It got me thinking…what makes a successful trade show booth? Is it alluring pictures of a stunning resort or destination? Tempting treats? A drool-worthy giveaway? I found plenty of booths that caught my attention (yes, those bare-chested Thunder from Down Under performers with their Free Hugs sign definitely made me look), but sometimes it’s not the biggest, splashiest presentation that catches the eye. In a tradeshow version of The Little Engine that Could, Travel Tacoma didn’t let a small booth and an even smaller number of scheduled appointments get them down. They had an oxygen bar on hand to help revive and refresh. “We came in with 5 appointments but we’ve seen 80 people on the first day alone because they passed by and wanted to try out the oxygen bar,” says Chelene Potvin-Bird, vice president of sales and servicing. In need of a pick-me-up, I decided to give it a try, choosing from the variety of essential oil-imbued oxygen varieties. I settled on eucalyptus, later trying orange and peppermint. “People come and sit down for at least five minutes, allowing us to talk to them about Tacoma,” says Potvin-Bird. I inhaled and watched the destination video scrolling in the background. “Tacoma is a refreshing place and we wanted to create a booth that allowed people to just sit down and relax a bit.” I’ll admit I felt refreshed after my ten-minute session and the dull headache I was nursing (it is Vegas) had suddenly disappeared. I felt a spring in my step as I walked away to visit other booths…and stop by for a free hug, of course.
What trade show experience – good or bad – has left an impression on you? Email me to share your thoughts.