Wheel of Fortune: 6 competition ideas for your next trade show

When you create a website for your business, you want visitors to spend a lot of time on each page. When you take your business down the road to a trade show, you want attendees to spend a lot of time at your booth.

The question is how to get there.

Hundreds of companies compete for the attention of conference attendees. With the number of trade show marketing tactics increasing every year, how do you capture the attention of everyone who walks by your booth?

One answer is an old-fashioned marketing tactic: contests.

Contest ideas for your next trade show

Creating an attractive booth is an effective way to draw attention to your brand. However, what happens when participants walk around to take a closer look. Is your stand long in appearance and short in substance? If so, the remedy for a booth that lacks substance is to organize a contest that keeps visitors to your booth.

In addition to handing out memorable giveaways, running a contest is an effective way to build audience loyalty with your business. GoPromotional, one of the largest distributors of promotional items in the UK, works regularly with clients to generate ideas to make their stands more attractive. Here they share some specific competition ideas for your next conference.

Prize wheel

Pat Sajak won’t be hosting this contest at your trade show booth, but you don’t need a celebrity presence to reap the benefits of hosting a prize wheel contest. A visually appealing prize wheel attracts the attention of passers-by in front of your booth. The contest itself, which is simple to run, keeps participants at your booth for several minutes at a time. A prize wheel is one of the most effective ways to associate your brand with pleasure.

The best part is towards the end of the day, when everyone has passed by each booth, many attendees will remember your booth’s price wheel.

Carnival game

Whether it’s a ring toss or a beanbag to putting a golf ball on an artificial green, the games give salon attendees the opportunity to get rid of the boredom that often accompanies such events. While attendees drop bottles onto a platform, you have the opportunity to chat with them about what your business has to offer. You can expect to give gifts to many winners, which means you need to award prizes that keep you on budget for the show.


To eliminate mental cobwebs from a trade show, running multiple quizzes throughout the day should keep your booth busy. Make sure trivia matches are short enough to stay interesting, but long enough to share information about your business. You also want to make sure you keep the questions based on relatively common knowledge, and not on questions that require the expertise of a Mensa member.

Drawings for prices

As an old-fashioned way to keep your booth moving, periodic prize draws are a great way to motivate attendees to revisit your booth. The winners come back to see if they won and the losers come back to enter another draw. Place a poster at the front of your booth to inform participants of the date of the next draw. This tactic will generate enthusiasm among attendees to return to your exhibit booth.

Photo contest

Hosting a photo contest can increase your business’s visibility on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Encourage every trade show attendee who visits your booth to upload a photo of your booth. Assign a hashtag that participants can attach to their social media posts. Pick winners from a few categories to split the prizes, and you should connect with lots of new potential customers.

Guess how much

Another contest that you can have at different times of the day is a counting contest. Fill a jar with coins, nails, or candy, and have participants write down a guess that you place in a storage bin. Every hour or so, reveal who is closest to guessing the correct amount of items. Counting contests attract trade show attendees to a booth several times a day.

Tips for planning a trade show

Holding a competition at the next trade show can attract more potential customers to your business. However, you still need to execute the fundamentals for your booth to be successful.

  • Treat attendees like customers by smiling, handing out business cards, and offering something to drink
  • Wear designer clothes that promote your business
  • Attach business cards and other information materials to an artificial tree
  • Don’t overload the booth with visuals
  • Communicate with each participant

Not everyone on your team is cut out to work at a trade show booth. You want outgoing members of your team to interact with attendees. Your approach should never be a hard sell, but rather lay the foundation for building new relationships with customers.

Holding a competition is an effective way to lay the groundwork.

Interesting Related Article: “A Guide to Your Next Trade Show”