Every trade show exhibit should make their attendees feel comfortable. No matter how much you dazzle them with displays and technology, if your prospects don’t feel like they’re in a space they actually want to spend time in, you’re toast.

That’s why we encourage people to look at the hospitality industry for ideas. Hotels are all about making people feel as much at home as possible in strange locations, so there are lots of design cues you can learn from.

Take a look at any review of a Four Seasons or other luxury hotels, and you’ll likely see the same words again and again. Words like “comfortable,” “friendly,” “warm,” etc. That’s the goal every hotel wants to hit, and it should be the goal you aim for with your exhibits.

Here are three of our biggest takeaways from hospitality:

1. The Importance of the Table

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Transactions happen over a counter. Connections are made around a table.

When designing your exhibit, think about how the sales team will be interacting with prospects. Will they be more open to a conversation leaning across a bar top? Or perhaps they would prefer lounging on couches around a coffee table that makes them feel at home?

Download Now: The Ultimate Guide to Designing a Trade Show Booth

Whatever your customers prefer, the goal should be to bring people side-by-side during a conversation or demo.

Setting it up as a panel discussion may make them feel like they’re in a group interview for a job or like your team has hierarchy over them. But sitting side-by-side deep in conversation establishes a feeling of sameness and makes everyone feel as though they’re on the same level.

Think about it.

There’s a reason hotels have sofas and coffee tables in their lobbies. And it’s not a coincidence that a lot of business is conducted in lobbies.

By removing any barriers between your team and potential customers in your booth, you’re much more likely to make a real connection.

And, in case you didn’t know, it’s real connections that lead to sales.

2. Intelligent Lighting

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One of the easiest — and easily missed — ways to make people feel comfortable in a space is to put time and effort into designing your lighting.

Again, think of a hotel lobby. The goal is to enhance the design of the space while also making people feel comfortable.

Yes, you want to light your products in such a way that they stand out. But your lighting should be warm and inviting. You want to differentiate your space from the harsh and industrial lighting of the convention center you’re in.

Vibrant colors, accent lights, pools of light that help draw people to specific areas of your exhibit — by focusing on these types of setups, you can create a sense of community and make your brand presence more intriguing.

3. Offer Something to Drink

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In many hotel lobbies, there are beverages for guests and visitors to enjoy. Fruit infused water, coffee, tea — these free drinks can go a long way toward helping make someone quickly feel relaxed.

Or think about when you visit a friend’s home. Most times, one of the first things they’ll do (if they’re a good host) is offer you something to drink.

“Sit down, relax, make yourself at home! What do you want to drink?” — Your awesome friend.

That vibe is exactly what you want at your exhibit.

Providing them with something to drink is a great way to break the ice and help them settle in for a conversation. It’s a simple, inexpensive addition to your trade show presence that can help you really stand out and build a strong connection.

Looking for more tips and tricks for your next trade show presence? Download our free eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Designing a Trade Show Booth.

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