What goes into a Best of Booth Award at Outdoor Retailer

SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright shares with us what she's looking for in a Best of Booth award winner at Outdoor Retailer.

The Best of Booth awards at Outdoor Retailer highlight some the best designs, ideas and creativity with merchandising at the trade show.

While there are only a few days to judge and put together each year’s winners, many different elements go into the decision. Although there is no scientific methodology or formula in determining winners, the decision isn’t arbitrary and there is a process.

We thought you might be interested in understanding more about what makes a booth ‘best.’

Best of Booth winners are usually, though not always, new or remodeled booths, and one of the reasons for this is simple human nature: They tend to grab attention. But simply doing something new is not enough. SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright pays attention to whatever slows her dash around Salt Palace beginning with set-up day and as you can imagine, the competition is intense.

Dissecting visual merchandising elements into categories of importance is difficult, if not impossible, because it is the sum of every merchandising equation that tells the true tale. As in any creative and artful endeavor, the key is the meshing of all the elements and the truth and authenticity communicated behind the story. Sound complicated? It’s not, if you know who you are and stay true to that story.

While it is the sum of parts that eventually brings a booth to the podium, there are components that draw curiosity and can make one stand apart from others. The use of sustainable, recycled or uniquely repurposed materials creates enough interest that it’s difficult to walk by without exploring more deeply. Strength in storytelling is another factor, and once again, when all booth components make sense and reflect brand personality all the way from materials used to display to graphics, it’s not likely to be ignored.


Powerful visual merchandising elements in display include color, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that brightness trumps all. While the appeal of color in Brooks booth at ORWM 2013 was foot slowing, Zeal won a Best of Booth because of how well the natural tones and materials they used made sense given their personality and brand. Motion can compel curiosity and disrupt expectation. The running mannequins on the top of Brooks' booth at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market are a perfect example. Use of space or going high can be another show stopper. Space and walls that are being fully utilized and have a sense of adventure and perhaps even surprise around every corner while remaining rich in detail will get attention as well.


While we are on the subject of what might be a draw, it’s also a good idea to share two common barriers in the discovery of magnificent booths. Front desk staff that are terrified to let us wander into the booth without a ‘guide,’ and inefficient coordination of said guide, can make us walk away. Not receiving advance notification of a new or remodeled booth can also hurt your chances. This is especially important when the story behind the booth cannot be readily appreciated in a quick walk by.

Now something new! For the first time, we will be awarding a “People’s Choice” award. To participate, upload a picture of your booth to the SNEWS Facebook page (/snewsfan) with company name, booth number and the hashtag #BOBPeople’sChoice by the end of the day Wednesday, 8/1, (the first day of the show) and encourage your friends to vote during the show by liking your image! Voting will close on the final day of the show and we tally results post show with the winner included in the full BOB story.

SNEWS Merchandising Editor Robin Enright
is the founder of Merchandising Matters, 
which provides merchandising support to brands, retailers and their agencies.

Reach her via email at 
with questions, ideas and suggestions.