I recently attended the Origins Game Fair, a gaming tradeshow in Columbus, Ohio. For avid gamers like me, attendance is practically mandatory.
I've been doing tradeshows and conferences as an exhibitor, attendee, and conference center staff member for the better part of my professional career. So, as I walked the floor of Origins, I took mental notes about how exhibitors presented their products and engaged with potential customers—what worked and what didn't.
Based on my experience at Origins, here I offer nine ways to draw tradeshow attendees to your booth and engage with them. Some of these tips may seem like common sense, but I was amazed at how many exhibitors completely disregarded them.
1. Remember that first impressions are critical
Things got off to a rocky start when picking up my badge took 30 minutes. The young woman checking me in couldn't figure out why her computer was giving me the incorrect price. Sorting it out required two managers to get on her terminal.
Computer problems happen, OK. But then, once the problem was fixed, she was more interested in checking her text messages, talking to me about her cats, and grousing about the customers she'd helped thus far than in checking me in. Then she went on break—without printing my badge! It took another 10 minutes, a printer repair tech's help, and a supervisor to unlock her workstation before I was fully registered and in possession of my badge.
Beyond her simple lack of interest in customer service, clearly nobody knew what anyone else was doing. That created a frustrating customer experience and left a bad taste in my mouth. Luckily, I'd attended past Origins and knew that it was well worth the hardships of a botched check-in. Otherwise, I might have been turned off enough not to want to continue any further.
Key takeaway: A customer is typically not bound and determined to get to you. Don't turn off customers with a poor first experience.