Tips and Trends

Best of Show—Making a BIG Entrance at CES

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The entrance to your trade show exhibit can be an important tool in making a brand statement. On the trade show floor, there are exhibits you enter—and exhibits you ENTER. You know what we mean—some booth spaces just blend in with the rest of the show while a select few make visitors really feel that they’ve ARRIVED.

It’s the difference between letting your customers know they’re in your booth and making customers FEEL they’ve entered your brand.

The key is to create a transition. Architects do this all the time with their buildings. Think front porches, lobbies, gates, and front walkways. 

So how do you transition trade show attendees from outside of your exhibit to inside your brand?

The main tools you have to work with on the trade show floor are flooring, physical entryways, lighting, mood or ambiance, architectural markers, physical sensations, color, texture, and sound. Use them correctly and you’ll find your attendees transported off the show floor and into the world you’ve created for them.

We’ve selected four of the best trade show exhibit entrances from CES 2019 to help you get the wheels in your head turning. While these examples are large spaces, the approaches they use can be adapted to smaller spaces and budgets.


Hyundai—Draw Attendees with Intrigue

Hyundai utilized glowing entryways cut into the corners of a tall perimeter wall to draw attendees into its exhibit (exhibit design by Atelier Brueckner, exhibit fabrication by The Taylor Group).

Tactics contributing to the success of Hyundai’s entrance included:

  • The height of the wall created a sense of mystery.
  • The shape of the entry—a triangular cut which led to a dome-shaped opening—was unique and added intrigue.
  • The depth of the entryway created a transition zone where attendees had a half a second to experience a sense of “what’s happening here?” as they entered. The depth of the entry ensured that the entry was its own separate and unique space.
  • A slight flooring height change enhanced the sensation of entering through a tunnel.
  • The illumination around the mouth of the entry drew people’s attention as they walked the aisle and lured them in. It also enhanced the sense of “Wow!” as people crossed the threshold into the exhibit.
  • The ceiling of the entry space angled down slightly and featured four non-illuminated struts. The combination of the downward angle and the lines created by the struts creted forced perspective—specifically the illusion that the entry tunnel was longer and deeper than it really was. This visual cue helped to draw people in.


LG Electronics—Immerse Attendees to Create WOW

LG’s approach was to wow attendees with a lobby-like space that immersed them in ultra-high definition video (exhibit design by LG Electronics, exhibit fabrication by Czarnowski).

Tactics contributing to the success of LG’s entrance included:

  • Video of deserts, forests, and rushing waves drew attendees in and instilled a sense of awe.
  • The immense scale of the video effected visitors viscerally.
  • The way the ceiling/sky gently blended into the horizon resulted in an experience that was very much like really being outdoors.
  • The design used forced perspective (the downward slope of the ceiling) to make the space feel larger and deeper.
  • Vibrant color enhanced the effect.
  • Bird songs, rushing waves and other audio cues increased the impact of the experience.
  • The LED displays were the only lighting in the space—ensuring that the imagery was the focal point of the experience.
  • The frameless LED panels are LG’s own product. Talk about an impressive product demo!

Dell—Create A “Must-See”

Dell chose an off-the-show-floor location to showcase its solutions. By building-out a restaurant space, they were able to create a club-like ambiance, have complete control over lighting, and provide food and beverage service throughout the day (project by 3D Exhibits and Plexus).

Tactics contributing to the success of Dell’s entrance included:

  • The darkened entryway and greeter at the reception counter ensured that attendees felt like VIPs arriving at a hot night club.
  • Rolling LED lighting created a uniform wall, floor and ceiling treatment. The added color and motion and drove attendees to the space.
  • The entire ambiance was one of excitement and drama.

Sony—Create a Checkpoint

Sony created a light-lined freestanding letters to mark the entry into its CES booth—and proved that gateways don’t have to include overhead structure (design by Sony Design Center, concept by Stungun Productions, architect Blumlein Associates, Inc., fabrication by Art Guild).

Tactics contributing to the success of Sony’s entrance included:

  • Because people could walk right up to the letters, the letters became a gateway and part of the experience.
  • The scale of the letters—which were almost the same height as the people entering the booth—made them highly noticeable. Also, the letters’ proximity to the people entering the exhibit made them even more impactful than the same size letters would have been on a sign hanging 20’ in the air.
  • Sony had the luxury of space—which it used in its favor. The impact of the letters was increased by the fact that there was no other structure anywhere nearby.
  • The glowing outline of the letters was just the right amount of illumination to call attention without distracting from the activities inside the exhibit.
  • A flooring change and slight ramp starting about ten feet in front of the letters let attendees know they’d crossed a threshold. Timing worked so attendees crossed into the exhibit and started up the ramp at approximately the same time as their focus was pulled toward the letters.


What effective trade show exhibit entrances have you seen lately? We'd love to hear.


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