The Dana team just returned from our longtime client IMEX America’s ninth edition in Las Vegas. As always, this biggest-and-best-in-the-US trade show for the incentive travel, meetings and events industry rivaled its host city in spectacular brand exposure and oh-so-flashy fun.
And that means it’s time to bookend our blog series on effective trade show marketing. We hope it helped you maximize your experience at IMEX America and will continue to do so everywhere else you’re exhibiting. Use it well!
We rounded up some of our top picks for trade show branding.
While working, we traveled the trade show floor about a billion times—and seemingly covered just as many miles. That gave us oodles of opportunities to check out exhibitors’ trade show branding choices in their booths, activities and sponsorships.
Below, we’re sharing the ones that caught our close attention. You’ll notice that in addition to standing out from the very large crowd, they all obey our #1 Cardinal Rule for Trade Show Branding: Stay true to your brand.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts | From prevalent signage in the escalator and foyer areas, to brand sponsorships, to a bustling booth and can’t-miss-it brand activation on the show floor, Hilton really made a splash. We especially loved “Century Falls,” adjacent to their booth, which tied together their “100 Years of Hospitality” anniversary campaign, water stewardship and environmental missions and wellness messages.
This walk-through “nature” trail surrounded a colossal digital waterfall, complete with the soothing sound of rushing water. It featured a pledge to join the Cupanion “Fill It Forward” movement: In exchange for avoiding single-use bottles, we received a free reusable bottle. We continue to scan the tag each time we refill it, and clean water is donated to a person in need.
We posed at the GIF photo station and paused for the finale: a beverage station with chef-created water infusions, a QR code to get the recipes and a strong call to action to share our experience on social media.
Hyatt | A (silent) shout-out to Hyatt and their nearby inflatable Meditation Station, a multisensory sampling of their well-being amenities. We tried out this amazing brand activation when it made its debut at IMEX in Frankfurt. This show, though, they stepped up their game, adding even more elements, like space to Feel (Meditate), Fuel (Hydrate) and Function (Relax & Recharge).
Munich Convention Bureau | If ever there were a stop that imparted a sense of place, it’s one of our enduring favorites, the unique Munich booth! Evoking a sunny biergarten with long tables topped with Bavarian pretzels and beer glasses, everyone wants to hang out here.
A maypole mimics the legendary city landmark, but features flags with booth partner names and logos. Even better, the booth is staffed by charismatic brand ambassadors. They don dirndls and lederhosen, cheerfully invite passersby in to this virtual Oktoberfest and offer well-branded freebies that complement the “Simply Munich” tagline.
Greater Palm Springs CVB | We always pop into Palm Springs, another perennial Dana favorite. This year, they built an actual mid-century modern home—the city’s quintessential architectural style and a huge draw to the destination—right on the show floor. Indoors and outdoors, the setup truly welcomes “guests” to slip into Palm Springs chic. And that perfect, pretty pink door? A must-stop photo op!
Lots of Southwest USA Destinations | Very honorable mentions go to the Southern California exhibitors Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (consistently cool branding), Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (that iconic sign and beachy theme) and Visit Newport Beach Inc. (“boat” seating in front of a digital video screen takes you there).
Thumbs up, as usual, to Destination Colorado’s cozy, ‘round-the-campfire setting and Visit Austin’s authentically funky booth artwork and CD giveaway featuring Austin musicians.
Let’s take a look at YOUR trade show branding!
Show us what you got, and we’ll see how to make it the best. Email Lynn Kaniper at email@example.com—or call 609.466.9187, ext. 117 for details.
And if you haven’t already, give the other installments of this trade show blog series a read: Exploring the Ultimate Trade Show Engagement at IMEX in Frankfurt, Good Boothmanship: Trade Show Etiquette Rules and Trade Show Follow-Up Tips for Exhibitors.