Thinking Outside The Box For A “Refreshing” Change

Thinking Outside The Box For A "Refreshing" Change

Have you ever attended something for the simple fact that food would be served?

*Raises Hand*

I’ll venture that many of us are could raise our hands since food is an integral part of most experiences but the inner foodie in me is dying for an outside-of-the-box approach when it comes to refreshments served at trade shows.

When I’m planning a show, I like to go just outside the perimeter of the box giving my attendees a unique food experience without alienating guests.

Here are some ideas that I’ve been brainstorming lately…

Big Box

What is more refreshing than food and booze (something that speaks everyone’s language)?


And with the surge in all things kitschy, I say go big.

Here are some ideas that will take more planning but are definite crowd-pleasers…

Floating Tiki Bar

Floating tiki bar boats are an actual thing and yes, they are the next best thing to being on a real island.

An off-site activity, it’s a great way for attendees (VIP or otherwise) to view the host city in all of its splendor while having refreshments.

Many larger cities already have these or have plans to get them in the future, so be on the look-out.

Pedal Bar

With the proper planning, you could have a pedal bar cruising around the show floor during a reception and it’s a head-turner.

The first time I saw a peddle bar with all the laughing and chatting twenty-somethings I knew I needed this in my life.

If you haven’t witnessed a pedal bar in real life, it’s essentially a pub on wheels that 12 or so participants help to pedal around. Steering is taken care of by the cabbie while everyone else sips on craft beer.

And it makes everyone who is stationary jealous.

Food Truck Fest

Food trucks are not done being in the limelight. From being the focus of a Food Network television show to being the stars of any midday corporate lunch rush, food trucks are a trend that continues to expand.

Not only is the food delicious but it solves the dilemma of having to choose one place everyone in a group has to agree on.

Having lots of options make people happy and food trucks naturally create a communal atmosphere.

It’s glorious.

Small Box

Some of the best ideas don’t take much effort but can make a big impact, especially the ones that take care of your attendees without them needing to leave the show floor.

Exhibitors are usually very open to the following ideas since it means that potential buyers won’t be leaving for something as simple as a cup of water.

Refreshment Booth

Show Organizers should always be thinking of ways to bring in more revenue, even if it seems small or insignificant -which got me thinking, why not offer exhibitors the opportunity to set up a refreshment booth in the sponsored area?

Exhibitors can offer something fun that ties in with the show, whether that be an ice cream novelty or smoothie, while their potential customers take a look at what the exhibitor is selling.

One caveat to consider before launching this plan is this: There may be extra fees involved to cover loss for the facility in food and beverage so always check with the facility beforehand. Sometimes it adds liability since it involves bringing in outside food and drink but don’t let that dissuade you from finding out.

One of your best partners will be your local CVB and they are often full of great suggestions when it comes to food/drink.  They often have some tricks up their sleeve when it comes to thinking outside the box.  Find out what they can offer that no one else will.

Refreshing Stations

I love water refreshing stations because they are so simple yet effective. Keep your attendees on the show floor and quench their thirst.

Opt for a sleeker modern version with a refillable water tank and then put a sponsor wrap on it.


Reserved Box

Thinking outside of the box will sometimes literally take you outside, and that’s where I’m going with this next idea…

Plan a show that runs concurrently with your regular show but offers a more elevated affair at a higher ticket price to attract those higher buyers.

A sponsorship experience is a huge deal so it needs to go above and beyond your average show.

Depending on the season you can rope off an area outside and set up white tents with exhibitors, an open bar, and of course, a dance floor with a DJ.

If the weather or the season isn’t favorable you can always do this indoors, just make sure there is an obvious separation from the rest of the show.

Cultural Box

Every host city has a unique vibe.

You don’t have to travel outside of the states to get a dose of culture.

It’s usually the cultural experiences during a show that leave an indelible impression so whether your budget is big or small, there are always ways to incorporate some local culture into your show.

Here are some experiences you can recreate on your show floor…

New York City– Have the cast of a local off-broadway musical perform some of their hit songs.

New Orleans– Hire a local mardi gras band to march around the show floor.

Charleston– Celebrate the local craft of Gullah basket weaving with demonstrations while handing out palmetto roses, the symbol of everlasting love.

Your Box

Don’t be afraid to take ideas and make them your own.

It’s time to think outside your box.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with.