With 2019 in the rearview mirror, it’s as good a time as any to look back at some of the trade show trends we saw as the decade came to a close. Beginning with …

The Peak of AR


Look, we get it. Augmented Reality (AR) is cool. Not only does it dazzle the eyeballs of attendees, it does so at a much cheaper cost than Virtual Reality (VR).

But here’s the thing about AR after 2019: It’s no longer new. Hell, it was already getting a bit long in the tooth by the time 2018 ended, which makes its ubiquitous use this past year all the more reason to move on from the tech as the new decade begins.

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Sure, AR will make a comeback — new innovations and breakthroughs with the technology will arrive eventually — but we expect to see it used a lot less in 2020 until that next evolution comes.

A Natural Feeling


More and more exhibits this past year embraced a warm and earthy design. Greenery, natural lighting, open floor plans — these were among the most popular design elements in play.

Part of this had to do with companies looking for ways to stand out in all the trade show floor noise. But we also think it’s a reaction to just how prevalent — and cheaper — technology has become in the industry.

Progress on Sustainability


The trade show industry has a rep for being wasteful, with companies routinely investing in large, resource-heavy exhibits that are only used a handful of times.

Thankfully, in 2019 the trend seemed to be companies making a greater effort to “green up” their practices, either by working with exhibit designers to reuse more materials, or ditching the idea of buying an exhibit altogether and instead going the custom rental route.

Welcome to 2020


Going into this new decade, we expect to see a more natural design and an eye toward sustainability continuing as trends.

We also expect a stripping away of a lot of technology in designs. Spectacular displays aren’t going away. And neither is elaborate signage. But overall exhibit design is likely going to have a more communal feel as companies look for ways to foster better connections on crowded show floors.

Technology is always going to be involved in the trade show industry, of course, but in this year and beyond, expect to see a lot of companies work to find a balance between technology and one-on-one interactions. People already spend enough time looking at screens, after all. The trend of 2020 is going to be all about looking people in the eye.

Understanding the trends for 2020 is only the first part of being successful. Learn what it takes to stand out as a trade show marketer this year by downloading our free guide, The Exhibitor’s Guide To Trade Show Success In 2020.

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The Exhibitor's Guide To Trade Show Success In 2020

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