How to Increase Tradeshow Attendee Dwell Time

Recent studies* have once again proven something we all understand intuitively:

  • 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.
  • 90% of all human communication is non-verbal.
  • The more senses that are engaged, the more likely a person is to retain information.

And my favorite:

  • Average human attention span in 2015 = 8 seconds
  • Average goldfish attention span in 2015 = 9 seconds

It doesn’t matter if you believe the studies, or if you believe your gut feeling … the truth is, to get attendees to enter your booth–and then stick around for awhile–you must engage ALL of their senses.  Otherwise, goldfish-like attendees will quickly disengage and seek out something on the show floor that offers greater sensory stimulation.

Like the roasted almond concession.

When faced with this challenge, many tradeshow marketers look to 1) create a dramatic booth design, 2) print larger, more colorful signage, and 3) feature looping, fast-paced video everywhere in their booth.

These are effective tools when incorporated into an overall marketing mix, but these solutions are mere lures; what happens after an attendee enters the booth?  What keeps them from taking a quick look at those signs or video, and then immediately walking out again?

Here are three ways to engage attendees on a multi-sensory level so you can increase their dwell time in your booth, educate them about your products and solutions, and have a greater chance of connecting them with a rep for a detailed sales conversation.

1) Gamification:  Touchscreen or tablet games that metaphorically tell your solution story can effectively cut through the clutter of a tradeshow floor.  They engage attendees on a visual, tactile, and intellectual level, and they also appeal to our inherent competitive nature. Most important, games are fun, and attendees will want to remain in your booth … because they like being there.

2) Virtual Reality (VR):  Recent advances in VR Developer Kits has moved VR from the “like-to-have-but-can’t-afford” category into the “can-have-and-can-afford” category. What better way to immerse your target audience in your brand than to immerse them in a 360° brand environment that engages multiple senses?  Attendees are engaged with all manner of sights and sounds, and in some cases, with tastes. Additional educational, competitive, and fun elements can be incorporated to make your booth THE must-see and must-hang-around-in destination on the floor.

3) Maker Activities:  Legos, interactive art experiences, and all manner of “maker” activities get attendees firing on all sensory cylinders, especially in the imagination department.  If you add a “Cause Marketing” component to the “maker” activity (e.g. assembling aid packages for the homeless), then you add important emotional and aspirational components as well. People have limited time to spend at a tradeshow, but if they’re doing something interesting & worthwhile, they just might spend it in your booth.

These are just three ways to conquer the goldfish-like attention spans of attendees and cause them to choose to remain in your booth longer.  The newer generation of tradeshow attendee needs constant stimulation and gratification, and while they may not give voice to their discontent, they will certainly vote with their feet.

Therefore, keep your tradeshow engagements multi-sensory, and you’ll keep those goldfish in your bowl … I mean booth … longer.

Just don’t tap on the glass … they hate that.