Ask the Experts: Trade Show Trends & Engagements, Part 3 of 3

There is a saying in business: innovate or die. This maxim holds true in trade shows as well, where staying up to date on the latest trends and most compelling engagements is one of the key components of success. Technology seems to evolve at the speed of light, but there are ways to stay informed and educated—and incorporate those cutting edge trends into your next trade show.

As professionals who are “in the trenches” of the exhibit industry and observing the latest and greatest in trade show trends, we asked each department to weigh in on three key questions:

  1. How can clients save money or use their budget more efficiently?
  2. What is the best way for clients to avoid surprises in the latter portion of the event planning process?
  3. Which upgrades, booth trends or emerging engagements do you see on the horizon that clients can implement to save time and money?

In this third and final part of the series, we are diving into the third question to understand the ways technology and engagement are shaping the future of the trade show industry.

You can read part one of the series and then check out part two.


From a design perspective, there is definitely a trend toward open and airy booth design that isn’t just aesthetically pleasing; it serves a specific purpose. This means that the focus is placed on the client’s goals for a space, whether it is to conduct face to face meetings, raise brand awareness, or encourage engagement from visitors. It’s all about creating an environment where meaningful conversations can take place, rather than big, heavy architecture that looks impressive, but may not help the exhibitor achieve their specific goals. Keeping these guidelines in mind will result in an overall experience that is a worthwhile investment.


On the trade show floor, every exhibitor is competing for attention. The show floor is a busy place, and graphics are a key component to help stand out from the crowd. Increasingly, exhibitors are replacing traditional signage with digital signage like video walls and OLED monitors. Technology has obviously played a huge role in the industry, and a combination of traditional graphics and digital signage can garner attention without breaking the bank. Using a combination of digital, traditional, and fabric signage can make for a big presence.


Finding new, innovative ways to incorporate elements that can pull “double duty” is a great way to save both time and money in the build process as well and I&D (installation and dismantle). For example, in one configuration, a cabinet might serve as a reception counter and in another it could function as a base for a tower or you could use shipping containers that can be configured to function as counter space or storage closets in the booth. These interchangeable elements also mean less shipping and drayage costs, and still allow you to have a different look and feel for each show. Better yet, this will also minimize your upfront investment in property.


These days, simply showing up at a trade show and setting up a booth is not enough. Trade show attendees want to be educated and entertained. They are looking for a memorable experience. Engagement is more important than ever to attract and draw the audience into the booth. And it also serves to engage the audience and communicate key message points. Whether it’s through a contest or game, or some other interactive digital format, it is all about drawing the right people into the booth. The key is to focus on buyer personas – who are you trying to reach, what is their perspective and situation and what do you want them to take away? From a time and money perspective, it is important to support the engagement in the space: make the most of the investment by storyboarding the experience, choosing the right brand ambassadors and creating a script to ensure it is a smooth, well executed engagement every time. Much like the wheels on a car, it is an investment, but arguably the most important aspect of the trade show experience.


Technology plays a starring role in our lives, and event/show services are no exception to that shift toward automating processes. For many years, ordering show services was done manually, which meant lots of paperwork and forms to be filled out by hand. Now, most shows or events are ordered online, which saves time and improves the consistency and accuracy of information. Likewise, technology has allowed for most vendors to have a chat feature on their website, making it ideal for multitasking and getting quick responses from vendors.


While technology doesn’t necessarily play a direct role in shipping, there are innovations that can be utilized to reduce costs in this area. For example, using fabric and other lightweight materials in production can reduce overall transportation expenses. Likewise, multi-purpose designs can have a big impact in shipping. These elements that serve multiple purposes in different configurations mean fewer items to ship, lower weights, and ultimately, less room for storage costs.


Focusing on a theme for a particular marketing campaign is the key to a consistent experience that will help a brand stand out from the crowd. This means that the trade show is just one element of a larger experience, providing experience continuity for consistency and ultimately, brand recognition. Think of the trade show as an opportunity to extend your marketing efforts directly to customers and prospects. Unlike digital marketing, you can observe firsthand how customers and prospects are reacting to your messaging and programs. Embodying the brand at a trade show can easily integrate technology, through experiences and engagement that fit the theme and create a big impact on the busy trade show floor.

This is the third and final installment of our “From the Experts” trade show series. For more trade show information, visit our RESOURCES page.


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