Tradeshow Marketing

10 Worst Trade Show Games to Avoid

Not all trade show games are created equal. Find out a list of the 10 worst trade show games and why exhibitors must avoid them.

An event floor packed with hundreds and thousands of booths calls for a creative and unique strategy to stand out and make the most of your presence. One of the best ways to attract and engage attendees effectively is by deploying an interactive trade show game.

Fun booth games offer much-needed relief from the banality of flashy displays and banners, allowing your booth staff to engage with the visitors. But while the game should be “fun,” it is also essential for them to contribute to your event objectives. Rather than just being a minor distraction, the game should add value to your business.

[READ: The Role of Gamification in Trade Show Marketing]

So, let’s take a look at the 10 worst trade show games and why exhibitors should avoid them-

1. AR/VR Games                                                                                                       

Why not? Expensive and highly technical

While Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) games have gained popularity in recent years, they might not always be the best choice for trade show booths. These games are generally expensive, require sizable space, and involve complex setups.

Moreover, technical glitches are also common with AR/VR systems. Just imagine the impact on brand reputation when you have people waiting at the booth but the game is not working. So, unless you have the budget, space, and technical expertise, it is better to avoid AR/VR games.

2. Obstacle Course or Physical Scavenger Hunt

Why not? Consumes plenty of booth space

If you’ve exhibited at an event in the past, you know how expensive the booth space can be. Even at medium-sized events, the rent can be thousands of dollars. And for games like obstacle courses and physical scavenger hunts, you’ll need plenty of space.

Trying to deploy these games at a smaller booth will lead to congestion that most people would certainly want to skip. If you do want to deploy something like a scavenger hunt at your booth, the digital version of the game can be a smarter alternative. Find out more about the digital scavenger hunt game here

[READ: Digital Games Vs. Physical Games: Choosing the Right Trade Show Game Activity]

3. Arcade Games

Why not? Vast emphasis on being “fun”

Many exhibitors also think of going old school and deploying an arcade-style game like a claw machine, air hockey, or video game. While the nostalgia of these games could bring in people, their focus would mostly be on playing the game and not so much on your business.

Moreover, such games often result in unengaged or low-quality leads. The majority of the people won’t respond to your phone calls or emails after the event as they won’t remember your brand or might even be interested in your offerings.

4. Fishbowl Game

Why not? Impersonal lead collection and excessive focus on incentives

Exhibitors have been using fishbowls to collect leads at trade show booths for a very long time. But while booth activities like these might have worked in the past, they’re not as effective anymore. Modern consumers expect a personalized experience from every brand they engage with and a game like fishbowl doesn’t align with this approach.

The majority of the people will fill out the lead form to participate in the lucky draw and win prizes and not engage with your brand. They won’t be qualified leads and the chances of conversion when your sales team contacts them will be significantly lower.

[READ: Trade Show Lead Management Plan: What Is It and How to Do It Right?]

5. Scratch-Off Cards

Why not? Too common and impersonal

Like fishbowls, scratch-off cards too have been around at trade shows forever. The game has been exploited to the fullest extent and people now know this is nothing more than a marketing tactic. So, unless the prize is something really grand, people won’t be interested in playing this game.

And even if the prize is grand and a lot of people have submitted their contact details in return for the scratch card, it is mostly incentive-driven. So, even if the game does bring people to your booth, it won’t make any difference to your business or event ROI.

[READ: 7 Trade Show Strategies to Maximize Your Gamification ROI]

6. Counting Games

Why not? Minimal engagement

These games generally involve guessing the number of items in a container, like marbles or jellybeans. While the game might show some traction initially, it rarely provides any business value as people generally don’t engage with the business or products/services.

Like many other trade show games on this list, the primary reason for people to participate in a counting game is to win prizes. It can be challenging for your booth staff to connect with the booth visitors when their only goal is to guess the number and win a prize.

7. Card Games

Why not? Time-consuming and might look unprofessional

While card games can be entertaining, they generally require attendees to sit down and invest a good amount of time. This could prove very annoying for others standing in the line at your booth.

Moreover, games like these could also be considered unprofessional at business-focused events like trade shows. So, unless your brand is related to the gaming industry, a card game might not be the best choice for your booth.

8. Miniature Golf

Why not? Requires space and takes attention away from your business

Miniature golf is also fun but it might not be the right choice for a trade show booth due to several reasons. For instance, the game will require a significant amount of space and its setup can also be logistically challenging.

Also, trade shows are opportunities for businesses to showcase their products and services and engage with potential clients. A miniature golf game, while entertaining, might divert attendees’ attention from your primary offerings and diminish the chance of meaningful interactions.

9. Email Sign Up and Prize Draw

Why not? Not exciting or competitive

Many businesses that want to use digital marketing channels like email marketing collect the email addresses of potential customers using email sign-up and prize draw games at their booths. However, the game often lacks the excitement and engagement other digital games can provide.

Moreover, it is generally seen that competitive games attract more attention and encourage attendees to spend more time at the booth. And email sign-up lacks this crucial element.

10. Photo Contest

Why not? Mostly ideal for a younger crowd

Photo contests are fun booth activities where attendees are encouraged to participate by taking photos at the booth and submitting them for a chance to win prizes. While this sure is fun and engaging, the game mostly works with a younger crowd.

So, if your target audience is over 40 years old, this might not be the best choice. But if you do cater to a younger crowd, thoughtful execution of a photo booth can deliver impressive results.

[READ: Trade Show Booth Promotion Using Social Media- Why and How?]

Finding the Right Trade Show Game

Trade show games need to be fun and engaging but that shouldn’t be its sole focus. The game should contribute to your marketing and business objectives while also ensuring people have a fun and memorable time at your booth.

At Audiencegage, we offer a wide range of digital trade show games, including Trivia Challenges, Raffle, Prize Wheel, Scavenger Hunt, and Custom Games to help exhibitors attract, engage, and succeed. We work with the exhibitors to understand their requirements and customize the games for the best results. Register for a free demo to know how we can help.

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