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What to Know about Hosting a Charging Station at Events


Smartphones have become ingrained in everyday life thanks to the numerous and tremendous tasks they perform. But for all their good, there’s one thing most folks would agree needs a mega-facelift: battery life.

We’ve all experienced the sinking feeling that comes when the dreaded “20%” warning flashes across the screen. We’ve all searched high and low for an accessible outlet to camp out at for those few short minutes while getting in a quick recharge. After all, the only thing worse than a dying battery is a dead one. Despite poor battery life being a common complaint of smartphone users, most rarely carry a charger with them, which is why hosting a charging station at your next event is a brilliant marketing move.

What is a charging station?

A charging station is a portable pad, kiosk or furniture with multiple charging outlets for folks to plug into and recharge the batteries for any portable devices. They’re a natural fit for any event, from trade shows and conferences to just about any type of mass group outing, like concerts, sporting events, auctions, and more. If there’s going to be a crowd, there’s going to be tons of smartphones… with quickly depleting batteries (and frustrated attendees).

Below, we discuss some of the important must-knows of hosting a charging station at an event:

Who can host a charging station?

In theory, anyone can host a charging station, but you’ll want to check with the corporate sponsor of the event before assuming it’s okay. Most sponsors welcome the addition of a charging station, as it benefits everyone there. However, at bigger conferences and trade shows, the event will typically have a specific charging station set up, complements of one of the event’s larger business sponsors.

Depending on the style charging station, you may need a larger amount of floor space – especially if you’re bringing a free-standing kiosk or chargeable counter. From a practicality standpoint, these require significant space and access to at least one electrical outlet to plug into. Again, get your sponsor’s blessing before you plan on setting up your own at their event.

What equipment is needed?

Charging stations are wonderfully low-maintenance. They don’t require a ton of equipment at all. In fact, they’re fairly self-sufficient.

As mentioned above, you’ll need to make sure you have easy access to an appropriate power outlet to plug your station into at the event. The specific requirements for voltage may vary, but it’s a relatively safe bet that you’ll only need the common 110 V. If you have a small table or booth, make sure you’ll have outlet space enough for the guests as well as for your team and their set-up!

Should I buy or rent?

You can do either! The choice is up to you. To give you an idea:

On renting: There are plenty of charging station rental companies that are happy to outfit your event for reasonable prices. This is a great option for companies testing out the effectiveness of this offering at events, or who want to use it for their own functions.
Renting is also ideal for those who require assistance, as rentals typically include 24/7 support for any issues that may crop up. Rental fees vary from about $200-800 per day. These fees are based on several items, such as the type of charging station, length of rental, and branding options.

On buying or leasing: On the other hand, if you find yourself constantly renting, it may be time to invest. Having your own saves the hassle of arranging pick-up and drop-off of the equipment. The cost for a charging station vary greatly – you can find prices for as low as $400 all the way up to $6000+. Many sellers offer the option of buying outright or leasing their products, to better fit your marketing budget needs.

What style station should I get?

Before choosing a product type, the first question you should ask is whether users will have to stay with their device to charge it, or whether it can be secured and left for a period of time while charging. There are pros and cons to both, and the station you opt for will depend on your goals for hosting the charging station.

With either option, you can expect improved brand perception and awareness – kudos! But aside from that, are you looking to further engage with attendees, perhaps about a product or service you offer?

If so, you may want to keep them around while their device charges, as it provides a great opportunity to showcase what you’re offering. In this case, you might opt for one of the following charging station types:

  • Table with built-in outlet, where you can have a professional, sit-down discussion with attendees while they plug in
  • Reception counter, where attendees can charge devices while chatting with your teammates or perusing your company literature
  • Display kiosks, where visitors can charge while viewing a slideshow, film, or live demo with your staff on the kiosk’s monitor
  • Couches or reclining chairs, where guests can get off their feet while giving their battery some life
  • Individual ports or portable charging bays, which can display prominently on a table at your booth for guests to use while reading your material and picking up swag
  • A recharge “lounge”, separate from your booth. where guests can plug in while watching, reading, or networking

On the other hand, maybe you prefer to give recipients the freedom to drop off their devices and continue about. In which case, chaining them to a charging station is unnecessary. Allowing attendees to lock up their phones and get back to the event is a win-win for all – they get a charged phone, and you keep their interest on the show/event/etc. In this case, you have just a few options:

  • Charging lockers or cabinets, where guests can lock up their devices in an individually secured cubby for as long as needed
  • Touch-screen charging kiosks, where attendees can leave their devices and return to pick them up when ready
What if my charging station gets too crowded?

This can be an issue particularly for events that prefer attendees don’t hang around the station waiting for their phones. You’d better believe that folks will line up and wait it out for the chance to plug in!

To avoid this, make sure you have an adequate number of stations available. We recommend one charging port for every 400 people; but depending on the event and the demographic it draws, you may prefer more or less.

If, despite your best efforts, your station is still too crowded, consider a contingency plan. We suggest gifting branded power banks and chargers or during the event, offering them alongside your marketing materials and other swag. Everyone can always use an extra charger! Plus, there’s inherent comfort in having one in-hand, even if it can’t be used at that exact moment.

Folks can relax knowing they’ll be able to power back up as soon as they get to an outlet, which gives them time and peace of mind to talk to you about your business.

What are the benefits of hosting a charging station?

There are a number of reasons why smart brands choose to offer guests a free juice up:

  • Increased brand awareness – especially when your charging station is branded with your company name and logo
  • Improved brand perception – provided a free charge is a generous act that will ensure users view your brand in a positive light
  • Increased foot traffic – according to Veloxity, customers who use cell phone charging stations saw improvements up to 35%
  • Boost engagement – folks who need their phone to charge are more likely to stop and strike up a conversation; what’s more, they’ll spend a longer time on average at your booth or table while waiting for their phone to finish powering
  • Better retention – “My phone is dying” is a totally acceptable excuse to leave an event early. Charging stations help to keep more attendees at the event or on the exhibition floor for longer – which means more leads for you, and a more enjoyable time for everyone!
How can I make my charging station stand out?

Throw a charging station into the mix of your event and folks will be happy – but why stop there? You can absolutely make your charging station into a destination, especially if you want folks to hang around so you can engage with them.

For instance, create a full-blown “café corner” complete with a coffee bar and light snacks for attendees to enjoy while charging their phones. Comfy seats are another bonus, especially for events that require a lot of standing or walking. Creating a mini café will make your interaction with folks more natural and relaxed, rather than them feeling potentially awkward just standing around – and zipping off as soon as their phone is done charging.
Want more ideas? Check out this piece, which highlights 15 unique charging stations from big brands like Toyota and Lacoste.

Ready to jump onboard and host a charging station at your next event? We thought so! For other trade show necessities – including displays, games, banners, and giveaways – check out our fully customizable selection at ePromos.