Game On at Your Next Trade Show

Trade shows and exhibitions are social gatherings. Yes, they are instructional and promotional and informative, but they are all those things on top of a gathering of people looking to connect and interact. More and more the trade show floor is moving toward a more festive atmosphere as businesses, small and large alike begin to embrace a new trend in marketing: Gamefication.

Just as its name implies, it is using games to bring in customers. On the surface this might sound like the “Bring them in for Bingo then hit them up for the sale,” but it is actually something far more advanced than that. Gamefication is built on Game Theory. That’s right, Game Theory.

In her book, Reality is Broken, leading game developer Jane McGonigal explores how the four defining features of games: Goals, Rules, Feedback System and Voluntary Participation, can be used beyond the online world. How relevant is this trend to the real future of business?

Well, for one thing, it now has its own conference , known as GSummit. Companies going to and investing in the conference include startups to Fortune 500 companies that are “looking to stay competitive.” Anyone from marketing strategists, HR managers, academics and non-profits visit the GSummit every year. In other words, it’s becoming a universal part of all human interactions.

Gaming drives engagement and loyalty, two of the most desired interactions which companies hope to achieve with their target consumer base while on the convention floor. When one employee health behavior-change website, Keas, switched to a gamified approach, user engagement rose to 100 times what it had previously been.

Do Something, a website which promotes community service for teens, had found the response from users on their marketing offers was coming in around 2-3%. When they conducted a scavenger hunt, participation jumped to 26%. Points are motivating. There is no promotional give-awat that is easier on your budget than points. XP (or experience points) can be racked up in any game you design to reward the participants. Game feedback shows that much of the positive feelings that motivate participation comes from earning points, regardless of, or sometimes more so because they reflect achievement–real or imagined. The most important things to remember for any game you think to run from your modular pop up display is that it needs to be fun, step-based and have an entry point which makes it easily accessible to participants.

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