In Dana Travels, Marketing, Trade Shows
Japanese candy artist

Amezaiku candy sculpting at the Japan booth

Having recently returned from IMEX in Frankfurt, and being just a few months away from IMEX America, the Dana team has been pretty focused on both editions of this global incentive travel, meetings and events industry trade show.

Though on our ninth year with this client, each time we find ourselves deeply impressed by the continued growth and innovations our IMEX Group friends generate. Likewise, we are inspired by the methods that its exhibitors use for effective trade show booth engagement.

Here’s some insight into what we think makes your brand stand out—and that you should consider for your trade show engagement planning:

Powerful pre-show marketing, appointments and RFPs
Never underestimate the importance of pre-event marketing. The more effort you put in before the show, the more successful your experience is likely to be.

Shows like those run by IMEX make it easy for exhibitors to reach out to buyers and book appointments, which might be why the last show hosted a whopping 69,500 prescheduled appointments right on the floor. Exhibitors can even complete RFPs, and those who best prepare their responses tend to earn the buyers’ business.

However you can, promote your presence and connect with existing contacts and show attendees. That can include utilizing the show’s own tools, as well as creating your own landing page, crafting an email campaign, alerting your social media followers and simply talking about it during sales calls and meetings.

Oh, and don’t forget to follow up afterward, immediately and with polite persistence.

A well-designed booth that expresses your brand
The booths at the IMEX shows can seriously spoil you. Because with 3,439 exhibiting companies from 172 countries, as was the case at IMEX in Frankfurt 2019, your booth needs to be its own little adventure, in order to attract the 7,793 hosted buyers and trade visitors.

The good news is that even on a buzzing trade show floor, with only seconds to entice, you don’t need the largest or glitziest booth to catch their eyes.

Automatically drive traffic by securing a visible booth space on or near a major show floor path. Invest in a great booth design incorporating fabulous graphics, signage, video, technology, furnishings and lighting that convey your brand, especially who you are and what you do.

Waterford Crystal being engraved

Waterford Crystal engraving at the Ireland booth

An active, inviting and informed approach
Remember the true value of this face-to-face experience depends on, well, your face-to-face interactions. First, staff your booth with experienced, knowledgeable team members who understand and can communicate what you have to offer. Then, try to have at least one staffer present at all times.

Now that you’re accounted for, don’t waste a moment sitting down, staring at your phone or computer screen or watching the crowd pass you by. Stand up, get in front of your booth, smile, greet everyone warmly and welcome questions and conversation.

A distinctive reminder—or experience—they’ll take with them
Professional, promotional materials like business cards, flyers and brochures should be a given. Fun freebies, authentic to your brand personality, are another way to pull in and please booth visitors—and, of course, make it easy for them to track down your details later.

We love memorable, in-booth entertainment, demos and photo ops that wow a crowd and also provide unique souvenirs. At IMEX in Frankfurt, they included live Waterford Crystal engraving (Ireland), Master Tobacconist cigar rolling (Dominican Republic) and ancient Amezaiku candy sculpting (Japan).

New Zealand genuinely left a lasting impression—offering real tā moko (traditional Māori tattooing) right on the show floor! Even those who didn’t get a tattoo will likely remember witnessing that for a long time to come.

Another possibility? Sponsoring an education session, wellness workshop or co-located networking event, all of which contribute to personal development.

A chance to really try out your brand
There were fantastic examples of suppliers avoiding “show-and-tell” and, instead, immersing attendees firsthand. In the Discovery Zone, exhibitor Painting Partys was very popular, guiding potential buyers, step-by-step, in painting masterpieces, just like their clients would.

Nearby: Hyatt’s Meditation Station, a multisensory sampling of their well-being amenities. Groups of ten took turns kicking off their shoes and entering the bubble for a seven-minute, guided meditation session isolated from the IMEX hustle and bustle. The delightful experience revitalized us for the remainder of the day. As a parting gift, we each received the ideal goodie bag—a branded pouch stocked with a silky sleep mask, ear plugs in a branded case and a card with brand info.

See you in September…or sooner!
IMEX America, the country’s biggest industry trade show, arrives early this year in Las Vegas. The Dana team would love to meet you there! It takes place September 10-12, with Smart Monday on September 9 for a full day of free education and networking before the trade show opens.

Until then, we’ll be helping our IMEX friends, as well as other clients, with maximizing their trade show engagement there. Email Lynn Kaniper at—or call 609.466.9187, ext. 117—to find out how.


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neon sign that says trade show