The Big Shift

The new trade show booth is a living room, not a billboard.

We’ve established the facts of how and why trade shows are now more important than ever. They offer a singular chance to increase sales, build long-term connections, and make a diagnostic assessment about your company—all in one place.

But the question remains: exactly how can exhibitors and organizers make the most of the tradeshow?

We at the Hughes Group suggest a new approach: treat your booth as you would your own living room. That is to say, with warmth, selectivity, privacy, and an individualized approach.

As exhibitors, costumer outreach at a trade show traditionally involves big, bold signage meant to reach as many viewers as possible in a short window of time and space—much like a gigantic, simplistic billboard posted on a highway to attract passerby.

Unfortunately, this billboard-like approach is no longer competition for the masses of information accessible on the web and within the trade show itself.

You want to maximize your limited resources, so why not change the booth from a random highway stand to a unique destination? This way, you can guarantee a smaller number and higher quality of attendees, and in turn secure a higher ROI.

The concept of a booth as a living room means that the booth is personalized, directed at a specific audience, and utilizes face-to-face interaction over an over-simplified visual expression of your business, be it through signage or the design of the booth.


Sales are based on human interaction, and a cornerstone of human interaction is trust. No one trusts someone they don’t know—especially if the sale or product is large and complex. By making a visitor feel safe and welcome into your “living room,” rather than an anonymous passerby glancing at a billboard, you will automatically set up a context of trust. By investing in the subtle human aspect over the blunt, architectural aspects of your booth, you are creating a totally different experience. You are seeking to understand the costumer rather than build the “right” signage. You are connecting the outside attendees inside your booth, which is different than hoping to randomly attract passerby. You are making the trade show experience deeper, more focused, and purposeful.

The big shift also requires organization. Since you are treating your booth as you would your living room, you must then plan your trade show attendance just as you would a party—by inviting all of the top executives you want to be there, scheduling their individual visits and giving them your complete focus once they arrive in order to build a quality connection.

Remember that the big shift is making the trade show about relationships—the more engaging they are personally and intellectually, the more you and the attendee get out of it. No length is too great to create a real, human-to-human connection. The same old tactics have a short shelf life, whereas an emotional connection has an endless, repeated return of investment. Why not create a more valuable emotional connection between your company or product and your clients?

Imagine how differently the attendee is going to feel when they are greeted with this personalized experience, rather than mindlessly scanned in as they arrive at your booth. Why not make them feel like your booth experience was set up just for them? The likelihood they will want to do business with you is far greater.


You offer something one-of-a-kind, so the booth experience must reflect this.