I have a confession, I love trade shows! I love walking through the entrance, seeing traffic on the floor, how organizations use booth space and design to engage clients, seeing colleagues and meeting people you have only had non-f2f interaction with. This summer I enjoyed my time on the floor at MPI WEC10 - they drew you in with an excellent lunch that was easy to get to and energized you for the next hours on the floor, with some great suppliers to meet. Here the hosted buyer program many were on also worked well to connect qualified buyers with the right suppliers - something that for this reason continues to be popular at shows.
There were some great booths at Incentive Works, the larger hotel booths where you could come right in and at either a stand up table or sitting on comfortable furniture, with a beverage, catch up on the global properties available for your groups. They did a great job of dividing this up by global destination so you could work through and really think about where you want to take your groups and meet appropriate suppliers along the way.
Anyone who has spent any number of hours standing on a floor knows how hard this is - staying energetic and focused in a small space for A-type personalities is always a challenge and finding things to draw people in and have them remember you is tricky. My favorite at this show was the Sheraton Parkway North who had their booth and surrounding area (good thing they were at the end of an aisle) packed with people who wrote a paragraph that started with "I _________ would love to book my next meeting ant the Sheraton Parkway North, only 20 minutes from downtown Toronto". This paragraph was then analysed by a handwriting expert, she really knows her stuff - it was memorable, and it created a line that allowed the sales team to interact with those waiting - an excellent use of time all around!