Think of the last sports game you watched. Now imagine it with the players in their team jerseys and the score ratcheting up, but there’s no arena, no seats, no logo painted anywhere, and no stalls to get hot dogs and beer.
Although attendees are what make an event feel alive, sponsors are what make an event possible. They are the ones typically responsible for keeping the lights on.
The same holds true in the corporate world. At most events, expo booths are where attendees and sponsors come together.
Sponsors are typically there to connect with your audience.
They may have specific lead generation goals, like building an email list or qualifying mid-funnel leads. Or they may be interested in general brand-building with your target audience. Either way, they’re looking to engage with the attendees you’ve brought in, and to do so in a branded, memorable way.
And attendees are ready to meet them there. With four out of five consumers willing to share some of their personal data, such as their email, birthday, age, sex, or gender, in order for a better experience.
Whether your event is virtual, hybrid, or in-person, thoughtful and creative uses of expo booths can build meaningful, personalized engagement for all.
If you want to provide measurable results to the sponsors whose financial support make your event possible, look no further than these 12 ideas.
12 creative ideas to ensure your attendees and sponsors maximize your expo booths
Ideas 1-4: Virtual event booth ideas
Virtual booths can be almost anything you want them to be (they actually don’t have to be “booths” at all). Because they are so customizable, expo areas in virtual events can play with content, form, and delivery in ways that can surprise and delight your audience:
Idea 1: Wellness sessions
As explored in our mental health series We’re All Human, dealing with stress or mental health challenges is a very normal part of life.
Stress among the world’s workers is at an all-time high, with 44% of people experiencing “a lot” of daily stress, so depending on the event, use a sponsor booth to create space for people to relax, destress, or slow down, even during a busy event.
This can look like:
- Sponsoring a yoga class
- Offering a meditation session
- Making a specific expert — like a financial therapist, if your sponsor is a bank — available to answer questions in 1:1 time slots
Idea 2: Virtual trivia
A driver for many attendees to join an event is to learn — why not give them a chance to show off what they know?
Using an app like Kahoot! as part of your virtual event platform makes it simple to create trivia games that are easy to integrate and exciting to play.
Sponsors can come up with their own questions, or the event organizer can help provide on-theme categories and questions for them to brand with their own logo. Those might include questions about:
- Your attendees: “How many different [states or countries] are represented at this event?”
- Your industry: “What’s the size of the construction industry?”
- Your event’s history: “How many times have we hosted [event name]?”
- General trivia: “What happened on this day in history?”
Idea 3: Expert presentations
Give attendees the special attention they deserve. Your expo booth can serve as a tool to get close with your core audience, so take advantage of that aspect by giving attendees access to experts in the booths.
For instance, sponsors could:
- Provide a sneak peek of new products, guided by product designers, engineers, marketers, or managers, depending on your event’s target audience.
- Offer expert-led training sessions, whether on specific sponsor products or on topics related to their industry.
Idea 4: Focus on the environmental benefit
Customers care that the brands they support are working to be green, with 78% of people thinking that environmental sustainability is important and want to live more sustainable lives. And a whopping 85% of people purposefully become “greener” in their purchasing over the last few years.
The very nature of virtual events is green, and by hosting online, you’re reducing the amount of emissions it takes to get people to your event — just think of all the planes, trains, cars, and hotel rooms you don’t need.
Have a sponsor calculate the environmental impact of going virtual and focus their booth on that. They can tie in their own company’s sustainability goals and progress, and can stick to the theme by offering virtual gifts or giveaways like:
- Gift cards
- Digital content (think movies, music, or books relevant to the topic at hand)
- Carbon offsets, trees, or sponsored donations to conservation efforts
Ideas 5-8: Hybrid event booth ideas
Hybrid events offer the best of both worlds: a compelling in-person experience and an engaging virtual one. Consider these ideas to help bridge the virtual/in-person gap:
Idea 5: Sponsored scavenger hunts
Give all your attendees a taste of fun exploration with a hybrid scavenger hunt.
Here’s how it works: you’ll make lists of different items and activities that attendees can find or do both virtually and in-person. Those could include:
- Snap a picture with a representative from the sponsor
- Successfully locate the company’s logo in a hidden area of the event
- Stage a photo with a piece of the company swag (which can be virtual, sent to at-home attendees ahead of time, or available at the event)
Give everyone a time limit and offer prizes to anyone who completes the scavenger hunt in a certain amount of time.
Idea 6: Sponsored photo booths
With an in-person booth for attendees who are physically present and an online option for taking selfies, making GIFs, and playing with animation, you can get everyone equally involved in your event while also creating great content to use on social media and in future event promotion.
Sponsors can brand photo booths with logos, hashtags, props, and more, ensuring they’re a part of the event itself and all the memories to be made there.
You can even add an extra-professional layer and have attendees get their headshots taken — whether virtually or in-person — for free if they participate in a sponsor activity (like leaving their email).
Idea 7: Co-created commercials
Lights, camera, action. Give your attendees a chance to be the start of the show by having them record video snippets. Sponsors can then edit together into a compelling, timely video to share after the event.
83% of consumers across the U.S., UK, and Australia want more authentic shopping experiences from brands — and user-generated content can be a great way of providing authenticity.
Make sure you’ve got the legal side covered with the right releases, and then try ideas like having attendees:
- Say the sponsors’ mission or slogan
- Share their experience with the sponsors’ products or services
- Define the sponsor in a few words
- Tell their own story
Idea 8: Interactive swag
There’s a reason people give things away at events — and it’s that people love free stuff.
Create fun, meaningful, branded mementos for attendees by having them get creative. They can use an AI image generator, an online doodle program, or virtual photo booths to choose the design for something like a t-shirt or tote bag — and then you can print and ship those momentos to everyone at home.
Sending swag after the fact comes with a bonus benefit: it ensures your event pops up in the mind of attendees after it’s ended. It can be a great way to kick off your post-event engagement and keep attendees excited for whatever you’re planning next.
Ideas 9-12: In-person event booth ideas
If you’re hosting an in-person event, you have physical space to play with — that can mean great things for your sponsors’ expo booths. You can go the traditional route, or you can interpret “booths” with a much wider lens:
Idea 9: Use creative booth architecture
Who says a booth has to look like a lemonade stand, with a wide counter and a banner up top?
If you’re hosting an educational-tech conference, maybe some of your sponsors would be interested in building mini classrooms, each with real school desks attendees can sit at for a sponsor presentation.
Or maybe you’re hosting in a specific city, like New York or New Orleans, and your sponsors want spaces that pay homage to its culture or history.
Perhaps sponsors will just want to stand out by creating something soft and relaxing — think a low-lit booth playing a great soundtrack — in an otherwise fairly corporate event centre.
Getting creative with what your sponsors’ booths can look like means keeping your audience pleasantly surprised — which does wonders for your engagement.
Idea 10: Add a physical, arcade-style game
You’ve seen spin-the-wheel giveaways at events. But what about a pinball machine that matches a brand’s colors? Or branded foosball, where the players are wearing painted-on jerseys with your sponsors’ logo?
Engaging our motor systems — think using our hands and feet through physical action — can help us remember things better. So if you want your sponsors’ messages to stick with attendees, try giving those attendees a way to move and have fun at the same time.
Idea 11: Lean into scent and touch
Most of our senses translate pretty well into virtual settings. Brightly-lit stages still look great on a screen, and well-mixed audio sounds good in-person and streamed. You can even send delivery so that everyone is tasting the same thing come lunchtime. But in-person events have a leg up on two of our five senses: scent and touch.
Lean into that by creating booths that draw people in and encourage physical exploration. That can be by:
- Offering aromatherapy stations, for relaxation or focus
- Simply infusing an area with attention-getting scents
- Creating comfortable, texture-rich environments, like a lounge stuffed with throw pillows
- Having a massage chair for use by attendees
Idea 12: Focus on safety
For any in-person gathering for the foreseeable future, attendee health and safety will be an especially important topic.
Consider having a sponsored sanitation station with plenty of hand sanitizer, branded masks, and stickers to indicate attendees’ level of comfort with in-person meetings (i.e., green = come chat with me; yellow = let’s stay socially distanced).
Making your expo booths work for all
Your event needs sponsors, and sponsors need your event.
With RingCentral Events, you can set up hundreds of booths in minutes, customizing each to the needs of your audience and your sponsor companies. Whether you’re virtual, in-person, or hybrid, make your next event about people — not places — with RingCentral Events. Sign up for a free demo today.
Originally published Sep 01, 2022, updated Nov 10, 2023