Opting for Off-Site Experiences at Industry Shows

January 17, 2018 | Uncategorized


Off-site experiences at trade shows are becoming more popular among brands vying for attention at shows like Comic Con and CES. Modern conference attendees are a demanding breed. They expect to be engaged before even stepping foot inside the convention center, let alone a booth. Brands are finding it that much harder to capture attendees’ attention.

Savvy brands looking to ramp up excitement for their show presence or sponsorships (and get a jump on the competition) are creating off-site experiences aimed at engaging attendees early and avoiding convention center (or other venue) constraints. The focus on pre-promotion not only helps drive more people to the brand’s conference booth, but provides an opportunity to build the kind of out-of-box experiences usually reserved for b-to-c events. And as this shift in strategy progresses, more brands are dividing up their budgets to offer multiple touchpoints, rather than directing resources to their show floor presence alone. Here’s a look at a handful of brands that have perfected the art of the off-site experience.


Some brands transform their off-site experiences into the main event, and skip the trade show floor altogether. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) serves as the world’s largest trade show, so relying on attendees to pass through your booth amid thousands of others isn’t a viable strategy. Enter Google. The brand’s massive takeover of Las Vegas includes Hey Google branding on a network of digital media, from the airport and hotels to the casino and malls. 20 ft. Google Gumball machines are stationed in popular areas of the city and they even branded the famous Vegas monorail! 

The main showstopper though is Google’s three-story experience on the show's front doorstep, or Central Plaza, just outside of the main entrance of the LVCC. Called The Playground; the space is a wonderland of Google Assistant magic, bringing the best of the Assistant partner ecosystem to life, daily programming highlighting how Assistant fits into your world everywhere and anywhere and whimsical engagements at every turn, including exiting the experience via a three story slide!

FX Networks

To promote its programming at last year’s Comic-Con, FX Networks took over a park just outside the Hilton where it offers VR, giveaways, physical challenges and even a silent disco to tout shows like “Archer,” “American Horror Story” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” The strategy allows FX to stay on-brand without worrying about conference regulations because, really, what convention center has room for a three-story rock-climbing wall?


You have to see this one to believe it. Ahead of its booth experience at the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show, Steritech promotes its SleepEasy Thermal Chamber for bed bug elimination on the streets of New York City. Just outside the Javits Center where the conference is held, Steritech unleashes a team of picketers (hired actors) protesting the slaughter of bed bugs. The group marches, chants, holds signs bearing phrases like “Bed Bugs Are People Too” and hands out fliers directing passersby to the brand’s booth. The stunt draws the attention of trade show attendees and media alike.

IDEXX Laboratories

For the launch of SDMA, a diagnostic test that detects the onset of kidney disease in animals, IDEXX knew it had to create something eye-catching to draw more attendees into its booth for the product reveal. To spark interest, the brand activates a wacky pet-themed parade of sorts outside of the North American Veterinary Community Conference.

The brand’s presence is felt all through the streets of Orlando as Dalmatian and Poodle-costumed stilt walkers visit public areas, including restaurants and the lobbies of two conference hotels, the day before the launch. The performers hand out small invitations inviting consumers to the big reveal in between taking countless photos with them. The strategy ultimately helps IDEXX more than double the number of anticipated attendees present for the reveal.

Standard conference experiences have their time and place, but sometimes it’s preliminary off-site experiences that bring a typical show or sponsorship activation to the next level—or eliminates the need for one at all.

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more off-site experiences designed and produced by Sparks.


Posted by Paula You | Request as a Speaker

Passionate about life, big ideas, fashion, food & 4-legged kids. Fascinated by social media & self-expression. Kickin' it daily as Chief Experience Officer @sparksmarketing