Trade show ideas: both sensory-rich and sensory-friendly
Are you looking for some awesome trade show ideas to make your next booth or trade show stand out when conferences start to happen again?
Larger conference halls and trade shows by nature are often sensory-rich. However, in a busy, noisy, bright, and too crowded way that does not necessarily make the sensory experience necessarily enjoyable. Some people seek more sensory-friendly experiences. Or they simply need to balance the rich sensory experience of a large, cavernous trade show with something quieter.
In this blog, you will learn several new trade show booth ideas to attract visitors. You will also be given great conference hall ideas that allow participants to engage on their own terms.
Sensory rich: awesome trade show ideas to implement
Create talk zones. They let people both know where to gather and where to expect a busier, noisier experience. Encourage people to interact by adding seating and tables for them to eat or meet. Bar height tables for standing are a great example too. Put up signs identifying it as a talk zone too. Letting participants know what areas are sensory-rich and what areas are sensory-friendly are both equally important.
Add a fidget zone to the trade show. Alternatively, this is a creative trade show booth ideas. Intuitively trade show booths give away tangible, tactile objects. Often they are useful. But giving trade show patrons an exploration zone of fidgets is fun and engaging too. Give them something tactile.
Add a movement zone. Create a defined space for movement. Include a live or video instructor. Offer chair stretches. Provide yoga mats. As an alternative, lead chair yoga. Movement helps people pay attention and become engaged. And they can do so in their work clothes! It doesn’t have to be lengthy or intense. Alternatively, if the neighborhood lends itself to a group walk, then start or end the day with a walk led around the neighborhood. The fresh air and brisk movement will do everyone good.
Three sensory-rich great ideas for your next conference hall or booth:
- Include fidgets
- Create a talk zone
- Add a movement zone or time
Create sensory-friendly exhibit hall zones and booths
Let’s review some more trade show booth ideas attract visitors, but these are sensory-friendly. One of the easiest sensory-friendly strategies to implement is to create a hassle-free space. Your whole booth or exhibit can be hassle-free. Alternatively, if it is big enough you can divide it into a talk zone and a hassle-free zone. On one side you talk to participants and the other you let them explore and interact with your exhibit on their own.
Now, let’s make the case for building a quiet space into your trade show too. Exhibit halls, often with concrete flooring and massively high ceilings are hugely noisy. And often echo-y too. Build in a quiet zone. Add noise-absorbing furniture and carpet. Use a canopy or tent to block out those glaring fluorescent overhead lights. Add armchairs or couches. For fun, throw in some bean bag chairs.
If you really want to add pizazz to your quiet zone, make it a digital detox zone. Let people know that their devices should be put away and turned off in the zone.
On the other hand, a quiet work area is also appreciated. Distinct from the talk zone that is sensory-rich and the quiet zone, possible digital detox zone that invokes a work-free environment. This zone, allows people to work, in peace! Provide tables and seating for laptop work. Be sure to include charging stations.
Three sensory-friendly innovative ideas your next conference hall or trade show booth:
- Hassle-free space
- Digital detox zone
- Quiet work area
Neurodiversity and trade show ideas
If you really want your conference to be welcoming to a neurodiverse audience then read on. You might think these are quirky conference ideas, useful only to an autism conference. It will likely surprise you to learn that the ideas are appreciated by neurodiverse and neurotypical attendees alike and are awesome trade show ideas for any conference.
Have color-coded lanyards for nametags.
- A green lanyard means anyone can talk to me
- A yellow lanyard means I only talk to people I know
- Finally, a red lanyard means I will approach you if I want to talk
Include a sensory map of the trade show hall or exhibit space. In fact, include a sensory map of the conference space. Let people know where to expect sensory-rich zones. Alternatively, where are sensory-friendly spaces that are quieter and less busy?
In conclusion, loan out noise-canceling earmuffs. Then again, you could probably even sell them at a big, noisy, crowded trade show. Give people an opportunity to visit, with a break from the cacophony and sounds!
Three great ideas for an autism-friendly event
- Have color-coded lanyards
- Include a sensory map
- Loan out noise-canceling earmuffs
Interested in learning more about making your workplace sensory-friendly too? Sign up for our Sensory Friendly Work newsletter.
Christel Seeberger has been an occupational therapist for more than 25 years, helping people of all ages who experience sensory sensitivity and sensory overload. Christel understands how sensitivity and overload feel, she has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. Christel founded Sensory Friendly Solutions in 2016 to bring together people around the world looking for sensory-friendly living and the individuals, businesses and organizations who create sensory friendly experiences.