Whether you’re looking for a low-cost exhibition stand idea or a unique and innovative concept worthy of the headlines in an industry publication, there’s no doubt that a good game will add an element of fun and playfulness to your booth design.
From grabbing attention and driving footfall to breaking the ice and capturing GDPR-compliant leads, games can be a versatile and powerful tool to support your wider objectives. What’s more, with 95% of exhibitors preferring physical events to virtual events, they’re a great way to stand out from the crowd as we return to a world of in-person shows.
Needless to say, it can really help to have an idea of budget before planning your trade show game.
Do you want it to be the focal point of the stand that everything else is built around? Perhaps it’s intended to be a smaller addition to a larger plan that offers visitors a fun and easy way to engage with your brand at the event?
Either way, for most exhibitors, cost will be one of the key constraints when it comes to deciding what kind of trade show game to go with. Here we’ve tried to cover ideas for a range of different price points to help you get the most out of your investment, no matter how big or small it may be.
New to the world of trade show games?
Just before we dive in, if you’re considering a game for the first time then we’d highly recommend grabbing a free copy of our Trade Show Games Playbook. This in-depth guide covers everything you’ll need to consider to run a branded game at your next event.
Anyhoo, let’s check out some of those ideas for creating a fun and interactive exhibition stand… 👇
Fun trade show game ideas
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- Arcade games
- Fairground games
- Jumbo games
- Quizzes and trivia
- Digital matching pairs
- Rooftop runner
- Physical challenges
- Pac-Man game
- Digital conga line
- Match-3 game
- Sport simulators
- Virtual exhibitions
1. VR trade show games
Virtual reality technology lends itself to a wide range of interactive trade show booth ideas. Whether it’s to entertain, educate, inspire, or sell, you can deliver your content through a set of VR goggles to provide an immersive experience for delegates.
While a tailored, branded approach to VR experiences might cost you a pretty penny, there’s always the option to use established formats if branding isn’t important for your exhibition stand game. Think Beat Saber, racing simulators, shoot ‘em ups, or a fear of heights simulator!
2. Augmented reality games
Unlike fully immersive virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) uses technology to enhance or augment the real-world environment. Pokémon GO is a well-known example of AR in action, with players exploring real-world locations to try and find virtual Pokémon creatures on their smartphone.
In terms of its application in a trade show setting, there are endless options available to exhibitors (if you’ve got the budget). You could develop a virtual treasure hunt in the event space, set up an AR photo booth or mirror, or follow Lufthansa’s example to have an object ‘fly’ around the exhibition hall. 👀
3. Arcade-style games
Video games. Claw machines. Pinball. Air-hockey. Skee-ball. Mini basketball. Dance mats. All regular fixtures in an amusement arcade, but also great options to add a little fun to your trade show booth.
One format we love – and that we’ve used at our own trade shows – is to set up a retro arcade cab with your very own branded game. We can tell you from experience that it’s an excellent way to draw people in and spark those initial conversations.
Fancy doing something similar at your next event? Our branded arcade cabinets are now available for hire along with a branded game! 🥳
Check out the cab in action at one of our recent shows. 👇
4. Fairground-style games
For all the talk of high-tech digital trade show games, sometimes it’s fun to wind back the clock and indulge in good ol’ games from times gone by.
We’re talking fairground classics like hoopla, spin the wheel, guess the amount, hook-a-duck, or a bean bag toss. These low-cost exhibition stand ideas are relatively easy to set up and allow you to give away instant-win prizes such as branded merch.
5. Jumbo games
Jumbo games, giant games, lawn games. Whatever you call them, they’re simply big versions of the classics that make for a fun and interactive experience on a trade show stand. Think Plinko, Connect 4, Jenga, and giant buzz wires – all well-suited for those spot-prize giveaways.
6. Quizzes and trivia
Who doesn’t love a good quiz? Go big with a gameshow-style host and delegates as contestants, or go down the interactive route with a digital quiz on a device such as an iPad or large touchscreen.
We used the latter approach for our stand at Manchester’s Digital City Festival in 2022, with a Get Quizzy game from our ready-to-go Piknik range. This created a real buzz and went down a treat with our visitors, offering up eight random categories to put their general knowledge to the test.
7. Digital matching pairs
The matching pairs format offers up a familiar game that players can quickly get the hang of – ideal if the aim is to give away lots of low-value freebies and encourage fast-paced movement through your stand. For your next trade show or event, why not take it online with a customised or ready-to-go version complete with your own logo and branding?
This is exactly what Crystal Ski Holidays (part of the TUI Group) did at the 2021 National Snow Show with their Mega Mountain Match. In a bid to drive engagement and generate leads at their stand, they created a custom matching pairs game complete with images of powdery slopes, cable cars, huskies, bobsleighs, and snow-covered villages!
8. Rooftop runner game
An ‘endless’ game format is always sure to stir up some competition among exhibition stand visitors, with quick and simple gameplay that keeps players coming back for more. Our rooftop runner game is a great example of this, and even has a range of ready-to-go versions to match a specific season or campaign.
Domino’s took this format and customised it for their Delivery Dash game, which they used to drive footfall and give away prizes at an event. Given that the big prize on offer was free Domino’s pizza for a year, it’s safe to say their iPads were kept busy throughout the show!
9. Physical challenges
People love to compete, and physical challenges will have them testing their abilities to see how they measure up against others on a leaderboard.
Keep it light with something like a hula hoop challenge, or test players’ strength with games such as a boxing arcade machine or high striker. For a really interactive option, why not try a Batak light wall to test the reaction time of players?
10. Pac-Man-style game
When it comes to retro arcade games, there’s nothing quite like Pac-Man to evoke feelings of nostalgia. Our maze engine is a firm nod to this classic, with past clients such as Yellow Spider and 4C Insights using it to engage and entertain delegates at their own trade show stands.
11. Digital conga line
Speaking of classics, the Snake format is one that’s familiar with audiences the world over. Here at Peek & Poke, we’ve reinvented it as a fun conga line where you gather friends and avoid various obstacles as you go.
We also used the trade show conga game at a virtual event during lockdown, with a daily prize calendar to build excitement and momentum 10 days ahead of the show. We then had two big tech prizes that only became available during the event, helping drive traffic to the platform and creating quite a buzz!
12. Match-3 game
The Match-3 format challenges players to match three or more items in a row, testing their brain power and reaction times as they try and bust through increasingly challenging levels against the clock.
In 2021, Sleeping Giant Media used this very format to create their App-Attack game. With a campaign centred around ‘finding the joy’ of gameplay, they drew inspiration from the Netflix series Squid Game to anonymously hand out business cards with a QR code to encourage people to play at events and exhibitions! 🦑
13. Sport simulators
Sport-themed simulators are always good for drawing in a crowd, and tend to work best with simulations of ball sports. Ideas include golf, football, cricket, baseball, and tennis.
14. Virtual exhibitions
Following the unprecedented events of recent years, we of course hope that physical events are back on the rise. That being said, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the virtual online format become more popular going forward as a way to host events remotely.
There are a few different considerations when it comes to virtual trade show games. On the one hand, you have the opportunity to reach a wider global audience, but on the other hand you’ll likely find it more challenging to draw people in and hold onto their attention in an online space.
If it’s something you’re considering, we’d highly recommend this free ebook with a section specially dedicated to virtual events.
Want to find out more?
We hope we’ve managed to provide you with some inspiration for a fun trade show booth idea! If you have any questions about using a branded game (and perhaps a branded arcade cab?) at your next event, don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or give us a call on +44 (0) 114 399 1011.
You can also grab a free copy of our Trade Show Games Playbook, which covers everything you’ll need to know about running your own exhibition game.
Finally, if you’re looking for football-themed game inspiration in this World Cup year, check out our post on World Cup promotion ideas or download a free copy of our new ebook Branded Games Guide: Christmas and the 2022 World Cup!
We hope you have a great time at your next show! 🎮