Trade Show Season: 5 Trends to Watch

Trade show season is upon us, and each season brings with it a new set of trends that forward-thinking exhibitors are using to attract and engage visitors. Conferences and expos are highly competitive environments, and each year your fellow exhibitors will be raising the bar with new experiences, new visuals, and innovative new promos. To stand out from the crowd and make your booth presence a success, it’s important to keep up with the times, starting with these five trends that are shaping the trade show game this year.

Offer Experiences (Not Just Displays)

As consumer experiences continue to evolve, so do the expectations of trade show attendees. They don’t just want to see a display and hear your company’s elevator speech — they want interactive experiences that engage their senses and make them active participants. Think contests, high-visibility games — like plinko boards and prize wheels — photo booths, and other interactive elements that visitors will remember long after the show is over. Remember to encourage them to share their experiences on social media with the trade show’s hashtag to help generate word of mouth.

Create a Theme

Help your booth stand out from the competition with a compelling theme that people will remember. Think outside the box and draw on inspirations from current popular topics. For example, you could “Go Green” with an eco-friendly theme incorporating the following tactics:

  • Offer earth-friendly giveaways with your logo on daily use items that will be reused, not thrown away such as
  • Outfit your team in  matching apparel with a slogan like: Doing Our Part for the Planet.
  • Create a eco-friendly trivia game and invite attendees to compete for “Go Green” themed prizes like messenger bags made of recycled materials.

Get Creative with Light

As booth technology becomes more sophisticated, exhibitors are playing with different uses of light and darkness to create dramatic effects. Look for ways to incorporate unique lighting elements that highlight your products and deepen your visitors’ visual experience. In a larger booth, for example, you can dim the overhead lighting and position spotlights that make your products the must-see stars of the show.

To keep the theme going, you can also incorporate lighting elements in your giveaways, such as illuminated pens that light up your brand name, logo, and message.

Go High-Tech

People can’t seem to get enough of technology, and by offering a unique high-tech experience at your booth, you can ensure that visitors will remember you long after they return home. Set up a few branded virtual reality headsets at your booth and set them up to give visitors a 3D product demo or a virtual tour of your factory — then give the headsets away as raffle prizes at the end of the day.

Speaking of technology, your show’s attendees will probably be using their mobile devices all day long. By offering a device charging station, you can provide a much-needed service while giving your booth staff a captive audience while visitors’ devices charge. Or you can offer branded phone chargers as a thank-you gift for attendees who attend a presentation or view a product demo.

Remember the Human Touch

While we need to keep pace with the times, it’s also important to remember that some things never change — like the need for human interaction. Make sure to hire the right people for your booth staff, and make sure they understand they’re not just there to talk, but to listen and engage. Every member of your team should know your brand story and be able to answer basic questions about your products, but they should also take a personal interest in each visitor and make every visit a personal, human experience.

Whatever combination of tactics you choose, the success of any trade show campaign comes down to a solid strategy. Build a plan for how you will promote your presence before the show, what you will do during the event, and how you will follow up afterwards. By incorporating the right blend of approaches for your brand, your target audience, and your chosen events, you can ensure that the 2018 trade show season will be your most successful yet.


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