Trade show games may seem like the perfect way to attract attention and engage attendees but don’t be fooled, the drawbacks they entail may mean they’re not right for your exhibit.

The Ups of Trade Show Games

Attention-grabbing stunts such as booth staff costumes and oversized props aren’t cheap and can often blend in with everyone else’s gimmick. A game, however, holds the potential to draw a crowd (long as the competition isn’t doing the same), which creates a self-perpetuating attraction. Attendees are often enticed by their natural curiosity to find out what everyone else is looking at. In this case, it could be you!

StanchionsNo brainer, the more people visiting your exhibit, the more opportunities your staff has to sell. The longer visitors linger in lines, the more time they’ll have to peruse your product cases. Make this inevitable by placing stanchions in a manner that routes the line through your exhibit booth.

Games also help fill out a large exhibit, preventing it from looking poorly designed and incomplete, and supporting your image as a well-organized company. This is of course if you are having trouble filling an entire booth. A pro-con assessment may show that a game is a better use of space than say a storage closet.

The Downs of Trade Show Games


Using games to draw in trade show attendees carries the risk of attracting people who are more interested in the game than in your products. These people are basically a waste of time and a waste of space aside from causing some “hype”. Games can also distract attendees who originally approached your booth, intending to investigate your products or services. At the end of the night, you could end up with a case still full of products and an empty storage closet of costly free-bees. Pretty much the exact opposite of your original objective.

No matter how entertaining, a game that doesn’t support your brand identity does more harm than good. Games that don’t have a clear tie-in with your identity create a dissonance that undermines the trust your would-be customers must have before they buy. Remember the cost of acquiring new customers is almost ALWAYS higher than keeping existing ones.

Even when you manage to design trade show games that accurately represent your brand identity, they will rarely be enough to make a lasting impression that helps you outshine your competition. Worse yet, if the game fails to deliver on participants’ expectations, they could leave with a bad impression. At the very least, make sure the prizes are worth their wait.

same-boothBeyond this, there’s the added cost of prizes and giveaways, along with any printed material, rented game equipment, and extra booth staff needed to run the game. Although they look minimalistic, there is a lot behind the scenes.

Before you decide to include trade show games in your next exhibit, consider whether the cost and potential risks are really worth it just for a little extra attention.