Issue #16

Two-Story Activations

Exhibitors are building up to maximize space and boost engagement.

If you're feeling like the last few trade shows you’ve attended have felt taller, it’s not just you. Exhibitors are building up and leveraging double-decker booth designs more often and with purpose. There are three strategies in going up—visibility, to be seen from anywhere on the show floor, budget, taking advantage of smaller square footage by building up, and engagement, where the first and second floors serve up different experiences and engagements for different audiences at the show.

Among the double-decker booth concepts at HIMSS were Lexmark and Siemens, which hosted activations on the first level and lounge areas on the second level. At CES, Intel’s second-level booth space featured private executive conference space, a social media control room and a press room. And on the consumer side, American Express took advantage of a double-decker booth at Panorama Festival last summer, hosting consumer activations on the first level and hosting a private suite for cardmembers on the second level.

The key to this trend in 2017 is serving up a tactical strategy with your second-floor space, to take advantage of the views and the feeling of creating a “destination” for booth visitors. Among design ideas worth building this year:

Kitchens. Convention center show floors can often feel stark and corporate. But a working kitchen nestled into your double-decker booth can warm up the space. Bake up fresh goods, serve up coffee, and you’ve created the show’s favorite meetup spot.

VR theater. To give a virtual reality experience a more intimate and premium feel, create a VR theater within the booth, a closed off space with sumptuous seating, like reclining chairs and dimmed lighting.

Podcasting. Influential people, key clients and contacts attend the year’s biggest shows. To leverage their voices for thought leadership, while capturing the energy of the show to drive interest, consider building a podcast studio in your booth, a dedicated area for interviews, editing and broadcasting.

Fireside chats. Create space for intimate product reviews and interviews in the booth, adding cache to the experience by hosting them in a second-floor suite space. An advantage to this approach: no need for intrusive microphones. And that means more human connections and memorable interactions.

Remember that with that extra space upstairs, first-floor engagements can go bigger, too. Yet another reason to consider moving on up.

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