How to Draw a Crowd at your Trade Show Booth (& Collect More Leads)

As an exhibitor, it’s your number one job to collect leads to bring home to your sales and marketing teams. What’s the best way to make your booth look approachable?

Following are some creative ideas to spark engagement at your next exhibiting event.

1. Food… preferably *smelly* food.

Those easy-bake-ovens that heat delicious, soft chocolate chip cookies have an aroma that wafts around and attracts any human… whether they’re hungry or not.

Roasted almonds and cashew trucks and popcorn all permeate the entire show floor with smells of honey and reminders of winter time and fun at the movies.

2. Coffee

Booths that bring their own delicious coffee tend to attract a lot of traffic, if only for that oasis of caffeine in the middle of the harsh desert floor.

3. Alcohol

When the afternoon hits and you have alcohol at or around your booth, you will suddenly be the most popular booth. Two things: 1) Have fun with legal getting this approved (maybe you could even put your brand logo at the bottom of the serving glass?), and, 2) those leads may not be “sales-ready” (but who knows?).

4. Branded Swag

This is one of the best parts about the show, right? Take goodies home for yourself, your girlfriend or boyfriend, your kids, your mom… when you’re done collecting everything, you’ll be singing like the Little Mermaid in “Part Of Your World”. But this really is an effective (and expected) way to generate leads as an exhibitor. Some favorite swag items to consider:

  • Bouncy balls
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sweets (candy)
  • Grocery store bags (who can’t have enough of those, right?)
  • Sunglasses
  • Stress balls
  • Stress (material) shaped like a character
  • Stuffed animals (always a personal favorite)
  • Cash (we haven’t seen this done yet but it would be awesome!)

5. Games

An engaging way to attract leads is to have a game. Some really interesting games to think about:

  • A basketball hoop
  • Race car driving games (where you could actually sit in the car to drive)
  • Fastest typing or coding
  • Petting zoos of your products (or having demonstrative ways to showcase what your product does)
  • Slot machine
  • Lottery

By the way, for the last two, see our Games and Entertainment.

6. Caricatures

If you sell hardware or software, you can use your own product to draw, color and print attendee caricatures. Or you can invite local talented artists to sit in your booth. (Here is an example by @nolanium.)

dell charicature

7. Mascots

If you have any sort of brand or product that can be put in a costume, do it. Dress up a character or put them in a suit. You’ll have people lining up for pictures in no time.

Collect leads by scanning their badge, and getting their email address to send them their photo. Here is an example:

liz meets eis

8. Live TV Broadcasting!

Some of the most popular booths at any show are simply interviews of folks on a green screen backdrop live-streaming through their websites or to the event’s website.

on air

9. Flyer Invitations To A Happy / After Hours Gathering

If many of your customers are attending the event, try having some sort of appreciation event for them. Send out invitations and be sure to hand out more when you meet them at your booth.

10. Crowd Gatherers

Having a booth theater in your booth is both informative and effective. Generating leads from presentations gives you informed potential customers. Getting foot traffic to sit down with a crowd gatherer who is funny, charismatic and attractive starts a phenomenon because other people want to know what’s going on – it’s human nature.

11. Race Cars Or Big Show Stoppers

Anytime you can showcase something really special, like a race car, sailboat, trophy, walk-through model or life-size moving display, you’ll draw attention.


12. A Huge Spinning Sign Of Your Brand Name / Logo Above Your Booth

Anytime you showcase, it’s important to make your company and brand as obvious as possible. There is an interesting debate on whether your hanging sign should spin or not… because you want attendees to see your name every time they look up but movement attracts attention.

trade show signs

13. Use Stark, Bold Colors

Booths that stand out the most are those that use stark colors in their booth’s decor. Having a stark white or red carpet underneath your booth is a great way of attracting the eyes of passersby.

14. Branded Lanyards To Replace Show Lanyards For The Booth Team

Using lanyards that have your brand’s name and colors instead of the generic ones that everyone at the show is wearing is a GREAT way to stand out and attract more conversation.


Hopefully this has sparked your creativity in thinking of new ways to stand out and have more conversations with your audience. If you have other methods that have worked well, please let us know below!