Wheel Of Fortune: 6 Contest 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 on the road to a trade show, you want attendees to spend considerable time at your booth.

The question is how do you accomplish that.

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

One answer is an old-school 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 attendees stroll by to get a closer look. Is your booth is long on appearance and short on substance? If so, the remedy for a booth that lacks substance is to run a contest that keeps your booth visitors engaged.

In addition to handing out memorable swag, running a contest represents an effective way to keep your audience engaged with your business. GoPromotional, one of UK’s biggest promotion item distributors, routinely works with clients to generate ideas to make their booths more engaging. Here they share some specific successful contest ideas for your next conference.

Prize Wheel

Pat Sajak will not be running this contest at your trade show booth, but you do not require the presence of a celebrity to reap the benefits of running a prize wheel contest. A large, visually appealing prize wheel grabs the attention of the people passing by your booth. The contest itself, which is simple to run, keeps attendees at your booth for several minutes at a time. A prize wheel is one of the most effective ways to associate your brand with having fun.

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

Carnival Game

From a ring or bean bag toss to putting a golf ball on an artificial green, games give the attendees of a trade show the opportunity to work off some of the boredom that often accompanies such events. While attendees knock bottles off a platform, you have the opportunity to talk with them about what your company has to offer. You can expect to give away gifts to many winners, which means you should award prizes that allow you to remain within the trade show budget.


To knock away the mental cobwebs of a trade show, running several trivia contests throughout the day should keep your booth busy. Make sure to keep the trivia matches short enough to keep it interesting, but long enough to share information about your company. You also want to make sure to keep the questions based on relatively common knowledge, not questions that require the expertise of a member from Mensa.

Drawings for Prizes

As an old-school way to keep your booth hopping, periodically drawing for prizes is a great way to motivate attendees to revisit your booth. Winners come back to see if they won and losers come back to enter another drawing. Place a sign at the front of your booth to let attendees know when you will have the next drawing. This tactic will build up excitement among attendees to come back to your trade show booth.

Photo Contest

Running a photo contest can increase your company’s exposure on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Encourage every trade show attendee that visits your booth to upload a photograph of your booth. Assign a hashtag for attendees to attach to their social media posts. Pick winners in a few categories to spread the prizes around and you should make connections with many new potential customers.

Guess How Many

Another contest that you can run at different times during the day is a counting contest. Fill a jar with coins, nails, or jellybeans, and ask attendees to write down a guess that you place inside a storage bin. Every hour or so, reveal who came closest to guessing the correct amount of objects. Counting contests attract trade show attendees to a booth multiple times a day.

Trade Show Planning Tips

Running a contest at the next trade show can attract more customer prospects to your company. However, you still have to execute the fundamentals of making a success out of your booth.

  • Treat attendees like customers by smiling, handing out business cards, and offering something to drink
  • Wear branded clothing that promotes your company
  • Attach business cards and other information material to an artificial tree
  • Do not overload the booth with visuals
  • Communicate with every attendee

Not everyone on your team is cut out to work a trade show booth. You want the extroverted members of your team to interact with attendees. Your approach should never be a hard sell, but instead, laying the groundwork for the establishment of new relationships with customers.

Running a contest is an effective way to lay that groundwork.

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