Exhibit Models

An Exhibitor’s Guide to Experiential Design

By January 21, 2020 No Comments

experiential design

We spend an inordinate amount of our time glued to a monitor. Smartphones and laptops are our windows to the world, and we interact with other humans through social media more often than we actually mix it up IRL (in real life).

That’s why trade shows are a vital blast of interpersonal connectivity, served up fresh and in your face.

When conceiving your next expo exhibit, why rely on passive storytelling devices? Attendees can stare at a TV when they get back to the hotel room; now is the time to engage them! By creating experiential booth designs, you can rise above the noise and lure guests into your realm. 


The difference between passive exhibits and dynamic exhibits is akin to the difference between a cardboard cutout and an actual person. The cutout merely stands there, unflinching and uninspiring, but a human being has the capacity to spark up a conversation with whoever walks past.

In the world of trade show competition, don’t be a cardboard cutout.

Experiential design is a strategy that involves the audience in creative and immersive ways. For example, when you visit a museum and press every available button to unveil information, artifacts, and cool trivia galore, you are consuming experiential content. When you are brainstorming your next expo booth, consider not just what you want to say, but how you want to say it. Don’t speak at your fellow trade show guests; speak with them. Challenge visitors to think, react, and respond. After all, isn’t that the ideal way to harvest leads and further your organization’s goals?


Technology is progressing at a breakneck pace. Every day, a new app revolutionizes the way we interact with our devices, and the next day, that app is obsolete. People want to see themselves in media; that’s why they project their every meal, joke, and political belief to the world at large via Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. 

So, what’s the ultimate way to immerse your audience into a trade show? By literally drawing them in. Augmented reality allows you to fill the actual world around you with animation, clues, and visual surprises. When guests hold up their AR (augmented reality) lens to your booth, they will be thrilled to see another layer of content hovering on their screen. It is truly a magical journey to incorporate AR into trade show exhibits. The person next to you may see nothing special while you are glimpsing amazing new galaxies through the lens of your AR app. This makes your booth a dazzling discovery, hidden in plain sight!

Virtual reality (VR) is another trendy way to catch people’s attention. You can supply guests with a set of VR goggles to plunge them into a 360-degree world that you have created on the screen just inches from their eyes. Exhibitors by the thousands are exploring the endless possibilities presented by AR and VR strategies. Don’t get left behind; consider your own immersive campaign before 2020 is upon us.


If you simply do not have the budget or time to create an augmented or virtual footprint on the trade show floor, then scale down your thinking. Ponder what you would want to do, see, and feel during your time at the expo. This is the key to creating a personalized experiential design.

It can be as simple as creating a space that surrounds your guests with a display that captures their imagination and blocks out the world beyond your booth. For example, you can create a “man cave” complete with jungle sounds and nature documentary footage projected on the walls. This might be an ideal strategy to market sporting goods, hunting gear, or travel services to prospective clients. 

Whatever your demo may be, think about getting into their headspace. Once you have visualized this headspace, you can then extrapolate it into an exhibit that allows attendees to experience your vision on a visceral level. 


Theoretical tactics are fun to bandy about, but you have real business goals and a strict timeline on which to accomplish them. So, let’s get down to real-life examples, shall we? The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is always a hotbed of innovation and spectacle, and this year was no exception. Audi immersed fans into their branding by allowing guests to literally enter a living, shimmering commercial for their vehicles, complete with towering LED walls and idyllic, futuristic projections.

Not to be outdone, Google treated consumers to a day in the life of a Google assistant to familiarize potential adopters with just how comprehensive their technology can be. Other CES exhibits created oversized props to dominate the space and interactive forests to lure attendees further into an ever-evolving fantasy of trade show nirvana.


An expo is a gathering of ideas and innovation. Each trade show is a blank slate upon which you can paint your masterpiece for the entire world to see. But it isn’t enough just to show off your products and services; you want to make people feel connected to your mission.

Experiential design can elevate your expo game to brilliant new levels. Instead of simply attending an event, you can engage with your community of fellow thinkers, creators, and doers. The deeper you delve into the creative waters of your mind, the more refreshing your results will be.

For help determining how to immerse your audience in experiential design, contact the innovation experts at Patriot Exhibit Services. We know trade shows, and we know how to navigate away from the boring and into the astounding. 

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