What’s Keeping Trade Show Attendees From Engaging With You?

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You might think of your competition as the biggest problem you have on the trade show floor. They’re the reason you’re not attracting as many trade show attendees as you’d like. Right?

But that’s probably just one of the elements you’re really competing with. There are many things vying for the attention and interest of trade show attendees , and we’re going to look at a few of them—and what you can do to overcome each challenge.

Competitor #1 – Your Competition:

Let’s not be naïve. You do have to compete with other exhibitors to get attendees’ attention. But having your competitors in the same exhibit hall isn’t all bad. In some aspects, their presence is helpful to your cause. Because they promoted their participation in the show, they will bring more attendees to the show. So if you can bring those people off the aisles into your trade show booth too, the attendance your competitors generated is available to you, as well.

  • The Fix: For you to make the most of this opportunity, you need to bring it. Your exhibit, your promotional materials, the products you’re showcasing and the people staffing your trade show booth all need to be at the top of their game.


Competitor #2 – The Clock:

We’re all time-constrained these days. Our careers demand more than forty hours of our week. Our commutes to work take valuable time. Then add to that whatever family responsibilities you have at home, along with whatever social activities you try and cram into your schedule. There’s simply not enough time in the week.

You may think trade show attendees simply wander the aisles of a trade show, looking at each exhibit they see, soaking up information from every one. But that’s not how it works these days. They just don’t have that kind of time. Instead, they’re looking for reasons not to engage with exhibitors, so they can get on with what they need to do. To win the competition against the clock, you need to stand out. How?

  • The Fix: There are several things you can do to try and get a competitive edge. If you can, get a booth space near the hall’s entrance, to the right of the doors (most people move in that direction). You can also begin to fix the problem even before the show opens, by contacting customers and prospects a week or two in advance and setting appointments for them to meet with your people. Don’t skimp on staffing, either. Your people need to be the best you’ve got. To ensure this happens, offer training between shows.


Competitor #3 – The Location:

It’s no wonder many trade shows take place in warm and sunny environments—places people would go on vacation if they weren’t there for work. Many trade show attendees do this: stretching their visits to include that vacation. And the sooner they can be done with the show, the sooner that vacation can start.

  • The Fix: This is a tough fix, but it’s not insurmountable. You need to combat this by making the area’s attractions part of your promotional efforts. Plan a golf outing for your top customers. Put on a nice reception at a famous landmark near the show. Or offer your best customers great tickets to a local performance, with a hosted pre-show cocktail party.
    MultiQuad 10x10 trade show booth

    MultiQuad 10×10 trade show booth


Competitor #4 – Everything Back At The Office:

Just like you, attendees don’t unplug from everything going on at the office or at home when they’re at a show. They simply can’t focus all their attention on the show they’re attending. Because we’re connected 24/7/365, there’s always a potential distraction that can complicate your efforts to engage attendees.

  • The Fix: One way to solve this problem is to create experiences in your exhibit that trade show attendees can’t have anywhere else. I’m suggesting you go beyond the typical product presentation and appeal to as many senses as possible, with all the technological support you can bring to bear.
  • But remember, this problem of splintered attention isn’t only affecting your visitors. Your booth staffers are experiencing it, too. Emphasize that the show is a tremendous expenditure of time and money and a superior selling environment, and hopefully, your people will take on a greater sense of responsibility for the show’s success.


Competitor# 5 – Their Devices:

When attendees are walking the aisles, their smartphones, smart watches, tablets and laptops are constantly being bombarded by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, emails, phone messages and an assortment of other interactive apps. So how do you compete for the attention of attendees in this wired world?

  • The Fix: If you cant beat ‘em, join ‘em. Create a marketing campaign that’s integrated across multiple platforms: emails, social media updates, and advertising on the show’s website that will present your message to attendees wherever they may be looking.


When you think about all the things you’re competing against at a trade show, there’s a lot more to it than simply setting up a booth and showcasing what your company offers. But the reality of trade shows today is that you’re dealing with a highly distracted audience, and you have to keep this reality in mind as you plan.

Create a show-stopping exhibit at your next trade show. American Image Displays offers everything from lighting kits and literature racks to booth graphics and even a completely custom exhibit. Let us show you how you can be a stand out on the show floor. Call us at (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected].

For more learn how to increase your revenue with customer service or how to super charge your follow up process.