Annual Customer Conferences: Engaging Users to Participate

Engaging Users to Participate – 3rd in the Annual Customer Conferences series

Engaging users to participate in activities in your booth is not as easy as it sounds.  It takes a lot of thought and creativity to make your booth look enticing.  Getting customers to stop and talk is the first step.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Booth Design
  • Giveaways
  • Raffles
  • Booth Activities

Booth Design

Booth design can make all the difference, but it costs a lot of money.  Signage with inviting slogans definitely help people understand what your booth is all about.

UX Booth with strong messaging

Selecting the right furniture is very important.  If you make the booth look too “comfortable” with nice couches and chairs, it may make people feel that they can come and relax in the that area, without engaging with you.

If your booth has online surveys which take more than two minutes to fill out, make sure that you have stools available.  Similarly, if you are holding short usability tests inside the booth, I’d suggest that you have two stools as well as enough table space to take notes.  Most likely, you won’t be able to record the sessions, because it will be too noisy.


Giveaways are another mechanism to get people to stop at your booth … who leaves a conference without a little swag?  Whether you offer something to appeal to parents who are looking to bring something home to their kids, or something to appeal more specifically to your conference attendees like stickers or t-shirts at open source conferences.  Know that if you have good swag, people will enter!


Who passes up an opportunity to WIN something?  A number of our booths have had daily raffles with a larger prize for participating in an activity.  Not only does this get your booth more traffic, but it also increases participation.  Daily raffle prizes which have worked well in conferences I’ve been involved in are iPads, Jambox, game systems, Pebble watches and more.  Advertising on social media can help gain interest with your booth.

Dev Nation 2015 -

Dev Nation 2015 Daily Raffle Prize

Booth Activities

Creative booth activities are another way to get people involved.  Fun things, such as fog guns, playing video games on a recently released game system are a sure bet.  Interactive UX activities are another way to pull people in.

At Red Hat Summit 2015, SJ Clark, one of our researches planned a “Design your own dashboard” activity on a velcro board.  It was a hit!  Not only did we have people participation, but people stopped to see what was going on.  It was a really creative way to get the users involved and get their opinion on our designs.

Selfies are so popular these days, lots of conferences as well as events offer #selfie stations, a location to make a connection with the event you are attending.  In EMC World 2014, one of our designers took it to another level, he held guerrilla usability tests and offered a selfie with the guerrilla once they finished their session!

Guerrilla Usability Testing

Bringing Guerrilla Usability Testing to another level! [1]

Planning how you to engage your customers is very important.  I’d love to hear how you have done this.  Of course, getting them into the booth isn’t your hurdle, but getting them in is one step closer to having them participate!

Check back soon for the next blog of this series which will be focused on customer surveys.


[1] Doyle, Hubbard, Raven, Wilson (2016).  The Annual User Conference : Boon or bust for UX? Retrieved from