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ITTFA Comment on… Stand Design: Tips for Exhibitors

Exhibitors at travel shows have a great advantage over companies in many other industries – they are selling a “sexy” product which is glamorous and fun. Travel sells itself whether it’s a tropical island, cosmopolitan city or cultural experience.

But many exhibitors still return from travel shows disappointed, whether they are trying to reach trade partners or the consumer. Even at trade shows where many appointments may have been organised in advance, it’s usually important to attract as many casual visitors to your stand as possible.

Here are a few tips to make your stand more inviting. But first, get as much information as possible from the organiser about the profile of visitors. There’s no point in investing in give-aways if potential visitors simply want to talk business, and no point showing off your organisation’s latest computer capability if all visitors want to know about is what are the beaches like!

  • Make sure you have the right staff, and enough of them. Tired, bored staff are very counter-productive and could put off visitors completely. It’s always a good idea to have staff in uniform, but as this is a fun industry, smart tee-shirts and casual wear may well be appropriate.

  • Allow staff time to take meal or refreshment breaks away from the stand, and encourage them to take some fresh air. Ask staff to avoid heavy use of perfume, after-shave or deodorant, and have mints or breath fresheners available. Always make water available.

  • Stands raised off the floor, where visitors need to take a couple of steps up, may be off-putting to visitors and create a psychological barrier. Make your stand blend into the exhibition by adopting the same flooring colour.

  • Pretty pictures of your destination or service are not sufficient to gain visitors’ attention, and remember that all exhibitors probably have the same idea. Audio-visual images usually have more impact, especially on a big screen – but make sure the volume does not drown out conversation.

  • Attract people to your stand with special events or demonstrations. Anyone who has seen the Dutch shoe carvers working at travel exhibitions knows how effective this can be, so consider having people working at handicrafts with maybe a prize draw for visitors to win one of the items in question.

  • Have staff dressed up in costume, or hire professional models to impersonate famous people associated with your destination. Whether it’s TV detective Hercule Poirot or someone who looks like a famous footballer such as Ronaldinho, they will soon draw a crowd. Better still if you can get the “real” person!

  • Create a talking point such as a chocolate fountain or an ice cream machine. Or devise a simple competition that visitors can complete quickly and must then come back to see if they’ve won – a travel quiz, for example.

  • Always employ a local person when exhibiting in a foreign country, who can speak the language and understands the national psyche.

ITTFA, International Tourism Trade Fairs Association have recently produced a guide on “How to Exhibit Effectively” which offers some useful advice and tips on how to the get the most from your stand.