Interactive booths are in high demand from companies that want to attract a bigger audience to their trade show booth. A quick tour around the exhibit floor of the recent ExhibitorLive event in Las Vegas was proof of that.

The interactive elements and styles on display included flexible LED tiles capable of video playback, LED bridges and arches, and interactive robots with touchscreen interfaces.

Aluvision LED panels

Image courtesy of Aluvision

Bematrix LED bridges and arches

Image courtesy of Bematrix

Robot interactive touchscreen

Image courtesy of Instagram

Requests from our clients for interactive elements have steadily increased in complexity, but nothing on the scale of what Novation asked of us for their yearly exhibit at The NAMM Show.

Novation, a hardware and creative instruments company, attends several trade shows a year. We recently spoke to Hannah Bliss, the Director of Marketing for Novation, about their trade show marketing and why exhibiting was a major part of their marketing plan.

She told us:

Our customers benefit from seeing, touching, and hearing our products in the flesh. Customers often come to events to see us and make their final buying decision based on the brand experience they have and what advice they get from our staff, so it is hard to quantify the importance of our presentation at these shows.

In 2018, their NAMM exhibit featured an 8 x 8 grid of single ‘Launchpads Pros’, their ubiquitous music software controller, all wired together to form and act as one giant ‘Launchpad XL’.

We were tasked with designing a solution which held 64 square musical instruments to a wall, incorporating a method of hiding the wiring needed to provide and maintain power and functionality for each unit, and ensure it could endure hundreds of people aggressively touching it over a 4 day trade show.

It was a huge challenge, but one we embraced. We knew this challenge would help our client make their NAMM show a success while helping us grow in our craft as booth builders.

After only two and half months, we put together this beast:

Novation 2018 NAMM trade show booth

And the show was quite a success, so much so that, in this video interview from the 2018 NAMM show, Giles Orford, Director for Brand for Novation, was hinting at his dream for the 2019 NAMM show booth they would need.

We were not surprised when during our discussions for their booth needs for 2019 we found out that not only did they want to have a matching dancefloor for their wall of lights, they also wanted to provide a 90s-style arcade experience. Hannah explains the thought process behind the 90s-style arcade experience:

The strategy this year was to draw customers in by showcasing Novation as a brand committed to innovation, fun and creativity, in order to fuel excitement and speculation for our product road map. Building on NAMM 2018’s success, where we first unveiled our Launchpad XL 8×8 wall of controllers and neon-lit synth pods, we felt that the best way to embody that commitment was to unify the visual, tactile, and audible elements of Novation products in unconventional ways.

The Novation booth [for 2019] aimed to be a universal destination that evoked situational nostalgia in the older crowd, and invoked imagination in the younger, in the style of a 90’s arcade, and I think we achieved that in spades!

This challenge was going to eclipse the last by more than we had planned for.

“After six months of R&D, trying different production ideas and methods, getting little and sometimes no sleep, we were able to deliver exactly what Hannah and her team wanted. We delivered all four arcade games along with a great looking seamless graphic back wall to finish up the display. The dance floor was the biggest challenge for us. Creating a stage to hold 64 Launch Pads, all wired to each other and to the 64 Launch Pads on the back wall, and do so in a way that was not only compact but sturdy enough to hold several people dancing on it at once, was a daunting task. I was very proud when we finally had it figured out and were able to invite Hannah and her team to our facility to give it a test run.” Lauren, co-founder of Xibeo mentioned when discussing the project.

The booth included the Launchpad XL MkII, 128 light-up, touchable launchpads all synced together to music. 64 of them were on the wall like last year, and another 64 were on a custom built dance floor.

According to Hannah:

[It] was a huge crowd pull. We had people put on Novation branded grippy, non-slip socks before stepping on the dance floor, and people were lining up just to get those. We told people, if you want the socks you’ve got to step on the floor in them, and we had the most shy of kids, and macho of men saying, ‘Aawww go on then, I’ll dance on the floor.’

Novation Launchpad XL MkII

They were also planning a NAMM premiere of their Novation SL MkIII product, which is a keyboard used to control other hardware and software.

To show off its uniqueness, they had us build a mock cockpit with multiple screens and Tron-style graphics intended to make the user feel like they were sitting at the helm of a spaceship, maneuvering through galactic debris, using only synths as controls.

Novation cockpit

To really round out the arcade experience, we also built two custom game cabinets, one upright and one booth style, reminiscent of the Pacman video games in your local pizza shop back in the day.

The upright “Bass Invaders” gave players a chance to immerse themselves, visually and audibly, into Novation synths. The booth style “PADL” (a unique take on PONG), played on a 2×3 Novation Launchpad grid.

Novation arcade games

When it comes to interactivity, Hannah nailed it with the gamification of their different arcade experiences. When we asked her about this, she responded:

Attendee interactivity is how you keep a booth fresh and alive at a show like NAMM. People love swag and giving it away is an easy way to keep guests happy. However, many love to grab and run, and don’t interact with our staff or products.

So, we created a “game card” which encouraged attendees to visit each of our four interactive stations, try out the products and collect a sticker from each. Once they had a full 4 sticker game card they could trade it in for a piece of swag from our staff.

People really enjoyed doing this, it added to the 90s arcade theme where by it reminded them of trading tickets for prizes when they used to play video games.

The scope of interactivity available for trade show exhibits is steadily growing, with incredible new technologies becoming available every day. To stay on top of the interactivity wave, it is important to stay flexible when exhibiting.

What worked well last year might already be eclipsed by the needs and technologies of this year. Custom rentals of your trade show booth provide for the flexibility you need to stay on top of your trade show experiences.

As Hannah explains it:

The advantage of renting is flexibility. Purchasing a booth locks you in to a fixed style you may not be happy with in 1, 2, 3+ years, however adaptable the booth is designed to be. We have different size booth plots at each show we do, so it is very hard to justify buying and paying to store 1 or multiple trade show booths.

We are very proud to serve as Novation’s trade show booth partner, working through all the challenges and scope they have to realize their goals for each and every show they participate in.

Was their 2019 NAMM show a success? This photo of Hannah says it all!

Hannah Bliss Director of Marketing for Novation