17 Trade Show Game Ideas for Different Budgets

17 Trade Show Game Ideas for Different Budgets Banner

Applying the best trade show game ideas to your exhibition booth is a surefire way to boost your foot traffic and improve upon your marketing and sales goals. 

A great booth showcases your products and services in meaningful ways that connect with potential buyers and partners. The key to success, however, is standing out amongst your competition and attracting the right visitors.  The reality is that it is getting even more difficult to do so with fierce and growing competition across industry sectors. 

Surveys show that 86.4 percent of exhibitors plan to attend even more shows in 2024 than in 2023. While there are countless other creative booth ideas to consider, games will always be one of the best strategies to attract visitors within the context of an increasingly competitive landscape. 

Considering Your Budget

First, it’s important to really think about “what is a trade show” if you are new to the concept or are thinking through your initial strategy. Simply put, trade shows support business-to-business relationship building and improve upon marketing and sales channels. How that applies to your particular business and how much you want to invest in your trade show strategy depends on your anticipated results. 

You will need to consider your budget when thinking through an overall booth and an overall game strategy. A game can either be the heart of your booth’s theme or a subsidiary gimmick. Here, we have provided 17 top ideas that could fall into a range of different budget options for any type of business endeavor. 

1. Trivia Games and Quizzes

Trivia is always a fan favorite! Everyone loves to test their knowledge. The beauty of a quiz or trivia game is that you can operate it through a low-cost system like a touchscreen device on a loop. There are dozens of free-to-use or low-cost quiz apps and software available on the Internet for you to design an interactive program that engages people with your product or service. 

If you have room in your budget, you can offer prizes to the highest scorer or provide give-aways for participation. You can also consider hiring a host to offer a live event if that strategy works well with your trade show goals.  

2. Arcade Games

Arcades have been famous for a reason. Their games are fun for all ages!

  • Fishing Games. These have different levels of virtuality and can draw in competition from a crowd. 
  • Mini Basketball Court. After walking around for hours, event attendees might love to score a few baskets with a quick distracting activity. 
  • Racing games. Car racing and other timed games serve the same purpose: a fun getaway within the event.   

3. Memory Pair Matching Games

Another great digital game idea is branded pair matching. Invite contestants to match two icons or ideas that fit with your brand on a giant or small touch screen. They can either compete for the highest score or earn prizes for simply participating. 

While matching pairs, contestants absorb your preferred brand imaging. This strategy makes it easy for an exhibition partner to help you design, likely well within your budget. 

4. Pac-Man Game with Your Brand

Some products and services might lend themselves better to a Pac-Man arcade game. You can enjoy this, especially in your virtual trade show exhibits

Think about a game where instead of the iconic Chomp, your branded mascot travels through a maze and collects different products in your new line, on showcase at your online or live booth. Experiencing the icons in the game will spark the player’s interest and improve their brand recognition for your business. 

5. Augmented Reality – Games with a Twist

Augmented reality (AR) integrates technology into real environments to enhance experience. There are a a a number of different ways you can apply this in a trade show booth, though the application might be on the more expensive side!

  • An enhanced photo booth or selfie booth, where your product embeds with a person’s image in fun and creative ways. 
  • A virtual treasure hunt or scavenger hunt throughout the event space, using an app. This can be a great idea if you have established partners within the event who want to work with you on cross-cutting goals. 

6. A Jeopardy Game Wall Built from Tablets

Jeopardy is a great way to draw a crowd to your booth. You can build a wall with tablets for answering different questions in a category. The benefit is that they are portable and networkable.

Use software to design categories and game questions that engage people in why they need your products and services. An emcee can use a master tablet to pick the questions from 3 contestants and tally a leaderboard. If done well, the event will draw a crowd and engage groups in learning about your work at intervals throughout the trade show event. 

7. Are You Smarter Than AI?

This can be a low-cost activity that is tremendous fun for visitors in your industry. Design questions around your industry or your products, and invite participants to see if they can answer the questions faster than the AI bot. 

If they can, they will feel intelligent! If they can’t, they will learn something new. The experience regardless is likely to stick, especially if you provide a branded giveaway for participation. 

Everyone loves to test their intelligence against a robot or computer in a “are you smarter than AI” game.

8. A Giant Holographic Slot Machine

Holographs receive 40 percent more viewing time and engagement than 2-D images, according to HYPERVSN, a vendor of a holographic slot machine solution for trade show exhibits. The technology engages passersby to play a slot game that appears in 3D, just like on a casino floor. 

The game can be branded with your logos and products to improve not only footfall to your booth but also product recognition long after the show ends. This might be a pricier option, but is sure to improve your event impact metrics! 

9. Virtual Reality – Racing Simulators

Virtual reality (VR) racing simulators are always a favorite at trade shows. Many gaming companies offer options to incorporate branding into the game, though you can use pre-designed games for a lower budget.  

10. Virtual Reality – Home Run Derby 

Sports can be more fun than racing for certain audiences. You know your industry best! You can turn a home run derby into a competition by broadcasting the image or a leaderboard on a giant screen. 

Whether you choose racing or sports, think about how you can benefit your bottom line and event goals through the VR event. 

  • Ask participants to provide an email address or sign up for your social media to participate. 
  • Encouraging participants to create avatars aligned with your brand. 
  • Engaging a sponsor or partner to provide prize money or products for event winners. 

Virtual reality games are great ideas and can be custom made for your brand, depending on your budget.

11. Mini-American Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course

This game idea requires space, which might be too expensive for your company. That said, if you have the budget and you can afford the space, think about investing in an obstacle installation. People love to test their physical capacity! Exercise also provides a healthy distraction from walking around and observing at trade shows. 

The course should include branding for your company and product line in fun and interactive ways as appropriate. Consider investing in an emcee to mic the competition at different intervals for different groups of competitors. You will draw an even larger crowd that way. 

12. Money Booth

If you have never seen one in action, a money booth is a cube (think telephone booth) filled with air and money or coupons floating around. A contestant can enter the booth for a set amount of time and grab as much floating paper as possible. 

This obviously will draw a crowd, especially if you use real money! If you’re using branded coupons or papers, it will also serve your purpose (along with the added benefit of incorporating a giveaway). 

13. Dance Off 

Dance competitions, especially with arcade game tech, are a great draw at events. Depending on your expected attendee demographics, they also might be a better alternative to racing and sports VR.

Dancing can fit into a variety of budgets. You can bootstrap and apply old dance pad technology or rent the most expensive display and software available. 

14. Prize Wheels

Prize wheels are a crowd favorite at trade shows. You can create a wheel and prizes depending on any of a wide range of budgets, too, making them an attractive choice for businesses. 

If you’re operating on a low budget, you can apply a totally virtual wheel. Participants sign up with their email to play, spin the wheel on a touch screen, and receive a coupon or prize to their inbox. 

Or, you can apply a high budget model with an emcee and expensive prizes and trips from different sponsors. 

15. Claw Machine Rental

Think about renting a claw machine and filling it with branded products for your business. Competitors will have a great time trying to grab your stuffed animal mascots or higher-tech prizes, depending on your industry. 

16. Jumbo Games

Jumbo games are exactly what you would think – large versions of games that take up space and draw attention from crowds. Jenga or block towers are great examples of inviting crowds to try to displace a huge piece without tumbling the pile. These are great selfie attractions! 

They can easily apply to any booth in any industry, designed to create an imprinted experience. They are also usually more economical options and can be easily transported to multiple shows. 

17.  Scratch-Off Cards

Another option for any budget range is scratch off cards. You can create the prizes, depending on your bottom line. It’s a quick experience that will engage any passerby with your brand. If they are in a rush, they can take the card with them for later. Winning will only encourage follow-up with you at a later date! 

Still Looking for More Ideas? 

Some other great trade show game ideas are of course out there. For a low budget:

  • A photo contest for participants, such as the silliest image in front of your brand. 
  • Roaming games, via a strategically placed tablet at a food stop, or with a brand representative walking around with a quick quiz. 
  • A Nerf gun shoot, providing giveaways for hitting a set of targets at your booth. 
  • A general raffle, asking attendees to drop a business card in a fish bowl for a chance at winning a prize in a drawing. 

The takeaway is that game ideas do not have to break your budget, but you might want to invest in more expensive gaming if it will help you fulfill your goals. A qualified trade show exhibit company can help you plan a comprehensive booth strategy that works best to fulfill your goals.

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