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5 Ways to Engage Trade Show Attendees with Contests
two women standing next to each other in a room full of people at a tradeshow

Trade shows are a prime opportunity for small business owners to showcase their products and services, network with industry peers, and attract potential customers. However, standing out in a sea of booths and maintaining attendee interest can be challenging. One effective way to capture attention and engage attendees is through contests. Contests not only draw crowds but also create memorable experiences that can lead to lasting business relationships. Here are five ways to engage trade show attendees with contests.

1. Social Media Contests For Your Booth

Social media contests are a great way to engage both show attendees and your broader online audience. By leveraging platforms like Instagram, Twitter (x), LinkedIn and Facebook, you can create excitement around your booth and extend your reach beyond the trade show floor.

How to Implement:

  • Hashtag Campaigns: Encourage attendees to take photos at your booth and post them on social media with a specific hashtag. Select winners based on creativity, likes, or comments.
  • Check-In Challenges: Offer a prize to attendees who check in at your booth on social media. This will not only increase foot traffic but also boost your online visibility.
  • Caption Contests: Display a fun or intriguing photo related to your business and ask attendees to come up with the best caption. Reward the most creative entry.


  • Increases your social media presence.
  • Engages attendees in a fun and interactive way.
  • Provides user-generated content that can be used for future marketing efforts.

2. Interactive Games at Your Booth

Interactive games are a fantastic way to draw a crowd and keep attendees entertained. They can be tailored to fit your brand and products, ensuring that participants not only have fun but also learn more about your business.

How to Implement:

  • Spin the Wheel: Set up a prize wheel with various rewards, ranging from small giveaways to larger prizes. Attendees can spin the wheel for a chance to win.
  • Trivia Quizzes: Create a quiz related to your industry or products. Use tablets or touchscreens to make it easy for attendees to participate. Offer prizes for high scores.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) Experiences: If budget allows, set up a VR experience related to your products or services. This immersive experience can leave a lasting impression.
  • Games in General: Have a fun game, e.g., Jenga, axe throwing or any fun portable game to encourage participants to visit your booth and drum up conversation.


  • Attracts attention and draws people to your booth.
  • Creates a memorable experience associated with your brand.
  • Provides an opportunity to educate attendees about your products in a fun way.

3. Skill-Based Competitions

Skill-based competitions can be particularly engaging if your products or services lend themselves to hands-on demonstrations. These contests not only draw in attendees but also highlight the practical benefits of your offerings.

How to Implement:

  • Timed Challenges: Set up a task that attendees can complete using your product. For example, if you sell kitchen gadgets, challenge attendees to complete a recipe in the shortest time.
  • Creative Contests: Encourage attendees to use your products creatively. For instance, if you offer craft supplies, have a crafting contest where participants make something unique.
  • Product Demos: Have attendees participate in live demonstrations where they can showcase their skills with your products. Award prizes for the best demonstrations.


  • Demonstrates the functionality and quality of your products.
  • Engages attendees in a hands-on way.
  • Provides a platform for potential customers to experience your products firsthand.

4. Raffles and Drawings at Your Tradeshow Booth

Raffles and drawings are classic trade show contests that are easy to organize and can generate a lot of interest. They are particularly effective for gathering leads and building your contact list.

How to Implement:

  • Business Card Drop: Have a bowl where attendees can drop their business cards for a chance to win a prize. Announce the winner at the end of the day or the trade show.
  • Online Entry Forms: Use tablets to collect attendee information and enter them into a digital drawing. This method can streamline lead collection and follow-up.
  • Hourly Giveaways: Conduct raffles or drawings regularly throughout the day to encourage attendees to return to your booth.


  • Simple to set up and manage.
  • Effective for lead generation.
  • Keeps attendees engaged with frequent prize opportunities.

5. Treasure Hunts

Treasure hunts can turn the entire trade show floor into an interactive experience. By partnering with other exhibitors, you can create a larger, more engaging contest that encourages attendees to explore the trade show.

How to Implement:

  • Clue-Based Hunts: Provide attendees with a series of clues that lead them to different booths. At each booth, they can collect a stamp or token. Those who complete the hunt can enter a drawing for a grand prize.
  • App-Based Hunts: Create a digital treasure hunt using a trade show app. Attendees can check in at different booths using the app and earn points or badges. The app can track progress and automatically enter participants into a drawing.
  • Partner Collaborations: Collaborate with other exhibitors to create a larger prize pool and more complex treasure hunt. This can increase foot traffic for all participating booths.


  • Encourages attendees to visit multiple booths.
  • Creates a fun and engaging experience.
  • Builds relationships with other exhibitors.

Prepare For Your Next Trade Show

Contests are a powerful tool for engaging trade show attendees and creating a buzz around your booth. Whether through social media campaigns, interactive games, skill-based competitions, raffles, or treasure hunts, these activities can draw crowds, generate leads, and leave a lasting impression. As a small business owner, incorporating contests into your trade show strategy can help you stand out and make the most of your trade show investment. So, get creative, plan ahead, and watch as your booth becomes a hub of excitement and engagement.

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