Trade Show Trends for 2024 – What to Expect in the Exhibition Industry

Trade fairs allow companies to present their wares or services to a potential customer base, while at the same time letting them see how their rivals pitch their products to the public.

It’s not enough to personalise the event with your combination-lock branding, signature hair/leg/foot logo or ‘swag’ giveaways. Now attendees want to experience and engage with your brand at a micro level that allows them to feel like they’re a part of it, and what it stands for.

Hybrid Events

The answer can be complex; a common issue with hybrid events is their difficulty to sponsor. Some advertisers won’t commit to an event until they understand and can track what percentage of their advertising reaches in-person attendees and virtual attendees. But that doesn’t mean hybrid events are a lost cause; they can do a lot to increase their appeal to potential sponsors.

This can lead us to explore ways of engaging with the virtual audience to attend the session by one of the speaker, if not everyone of them. The group and 1:1 chat enables them to meet each other and form new relationships. This keeps them entertained and in touch with the event.

One way to invite participation is to add a scavenger hunt to your event, allowing attendees to explore the venue, gathering prizes and producing a leaderboard. Scavenger hunts can raise participant visibility too, bringing in intrepid passers-by as well.

Immersive Experiences

There are always a lot of learning opportunities when you visit an international trade shows – not just making some communities economic. On the other hand, there are always some speakers, leaders of the industry, groups of experts who presents their workshops, seminars and keynote speech to provide visible industry insights.

Eco-friendly exhibits: In line with the global focus on creating less of a show footprint, exhibitors are taking steps to ensure their stalls are green — look out for increased recycling, less use of paper and digital ticketing and virtual handouts.

It is becoming commonplace for custom mobile event apps to deliver AR or even Virtual Reality experiences for onsite visitors. Point your smart phone camera at a display on the trade show floor and retrieve all kinds of supplemental information about the product, a service or the company that produces it, including the ability to share the data and take it with you into the cab ride home to make sure that follow-up leads are all accomplished more effectively.

Artificial Intelligence

As technological innovations are becoming available at a fast pace, the exhibition industry is facing dramatic changes due to a stress on the environmental issues and, moreover, attendees and exhibitors are demanding for personalised experiences and promotions such as workshops, which will communicate the products and the services in a unique way.

From artificial intelligence-powered language translation tools to assistants that guide attendees, bots that answer attendee questions, and matchmaking software that is supported by artificial intelligence – expect an increased presence of artificial intelligence across in-person and virtual experiences in 2024.

According to UFI’s Global Exhibition Barometer, pandemic losses have stabilised, and the exhibition industry recouped lost revenues worldwide in 2022. Moreover, hiring is picking up with 52 per cent of organisers planning to recruit staff within the next six months. Sustainability continues to be a top priority: using environmentally friendly materials; installing LED lighting; encouraging the use of public transportation are all ways to reduce the negative impact on the environment.

Augmented Reality

With augmented reality, you can use digital information to dramatise reality. Empowered with apps, when visitors hold their smartphones up to your display, they’ll see product specs and prices overlaid on to your material, right there before their eyes.

Group messaging and other new networking functions on virtual platforms allow attendees to ‘meet’ without ever coming face-to-face, extending the gain for those who can’t personally attend and helping to make sure all warm leads are followed up with – and that no stone is left unturned to maximise return on investment for trade shows.

Indeed, sustainability has become a topic of choice for events, mirroring current business trends towards theming for environmentally friendly practices, such as the use of recyclable materials for the fabrication of booths, waste reduction, as well as the exhibition of green technologies. Attendees increasingly demand other avenues for interacting with exhibitors online – it demands event apps with personalisation features facilitated by artificial intelligence, and chatbots that can answer on the go when attendees are posing queries about exhibitors online.

Virtual Reality

Exhibitions are in the middle of a technological, environmental and visitor-focused revolution. This is transforming the way exhibitions are created and experienced as their multifaceted nature is revealed.

With VR and AR, you can instantly provide those attendees with entirely immersive experiences of your products and services in ways that traditional techniques almost never can, and you’ll ensure that your brand sticks in their minds.

Delegates want AI personalisation at events, from using immersive virtual networking platforms to speaking, intelligent chatbots delivering immediate information and help. Or using AI to analyse their attendee data to suggest what sessions and booths they will like; by 2024, even this level of personalisation will become the norm.

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