Like everything else, technology is quickly changing the trade show industry. Each day seems to bring new toys that companies can put to work in their booths or marketing campaigns to gain an edge.
Here are seven technologies we see getting more and more usage in the industry, and how they’re benefiting the companies using them.
1. Virtual Reality
Forget the Virtual Reality (VR) you saw in cheesy ‘90s movies. The technology has hit its stride and is now being used more and more at trade show booths to showcase products, guide visitors through demonstrations, and wow attendees.
Like any new tool, VR risks being overused. The headsets can also make attendees feel a little silly on the show flow.
The technology definitely has a cool factor, and when put to use effectively — when a company actually has a story to tell that benefits from VR — the results can be impressive. Just make sure it doesn’t get in the way of actual human interaction.
2. Augmented Reality
Less immersive than VR, Augmented Reality (AR) can still be extremely effective in helping a brand tell its story on the show floor. Instead of headsets, AR lets attendees explore a booth with a device they’re already comfortable with: their own phones.
Some popular uses of AR we’ve seen recently include virtual demos of products and pricing reveals done via an overlay that attendees can see by simply pointing their phone’s camera at a specific part of the booth.
3. Personalization Through Data
The more you know about your customer base, the more successful you’ll be in selling them on a product.
While data collection in the past mainly consisted of things like questionnaires, companies today have an endless stream of information available through social media and the always-connected devices attendees carry with them.
Add in the ability to increasingly use tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and companies can dig deeper than ever before in their data to tailor their marketing for shows.
Trade shows are all about human interaction, and one way many companies are boosting interaction is through gamification.
You don’t need to turn your entire booth into one big game (although that would be cool). But simple things like giving attendees something to play through and experience, whether you keep score or not, can go a long way toward keeping people stopping by your booth and increasing interaction.
5. 5G Networks
The next leap in wireless technology has just started to roll out, but it’s already easy to see its potential to shake up how companies work a trade show.
With what they say are lightning fast data speeds and greatly increased capacity, 5G devices are going to make it much easier to leverage data on the show floor and quickly send follow-up information to attendees while they’re at a booth regardless of file size.
6. Non-Traditional Materials
While not a specific technology, the use of non-traditional materials in booth designs has been on the rise lately.
By non-traditional, we mean materials that might seem out of place when you think of a trade show booth.
In the past, we’ve constructed a booth made to look like a garden area complete with plants. We’ve also seen other creative uses of non-traditional materials like the conference area of a construction company booth being designed to look like a giant shovel.
7. Cause Marketing
Cause marketing is a way for companies to give back to the community while also increasing their brand awareness and approval.
At a trade show, cause marketing can be an effective tool in drawing attendees into the orbit of your booth. Say you’re contributing to an organization that promotes sustainability, for example. Incorporating that messaging as part of your overall booth design can help you stand out to attendees amidst your competitors.
Plus, if you’re renting your booth for the show, you’re also doing something good for the environment.
For more of our thoughts on trade show trends and innovations, download our free resource The Exhibitor’s Guide To Trade Show Success In 2020.