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Top 5 Trade Show Trends for 2018

Written by Exhibit Concepts | Feb 8, 2018

It often feels like the only constant in the face-to-face marketing industry is that it’s continuously evolving. New design trends, innovative use of materials, technology advances-it is challenging to stay on top of the latest innovations. As we did last year, let’s look at the biggest trade show trends we can expect for the trade show industry in 2018.

Trend One: Experiential Design

Great booth design is not simply about architecture. It’s about the total visitor’s experience, from start to finish- and beyond the confines of a booth. The use of new materials and textures that enhance the experience promises to be a game changer in the coming year. Many companies realize a trade show environment is just that—an environment-- and it is important to treat it as such. While it is true technology is a major part of our lives and trade shows, a focus on a “human centric” space is important. It could be a simple as a booth design and finishes that look and feel comfortable to visitors. It could also mean adding engagement interactives that enhance a person’s senses. Rather than starting with square footage and numbers of demo stations, the trend is to focus on the attendee experience first. 

Trend Two: A Strategic Approach

Rather than approaching each event on the trade show calendar as an isolated project, we believe a new approach will take over in 2018. Experienced trade show managers are recognizing the value of taking a holistic, strategic approach to the entire calendar of trade shows, events and campaigns. We call this a program. However, a successful program isn’t simply about organizing the show calendar into tiers to maximize spend and effectiveness. It is also about aligning different elements of the marketing plan so that they work in concert with each other.

Trend Three: The Power of Light

Light is an incredible tool, impactful both by its presence and absence. Finding new and creative ways to quite literally shine a light on products and spaces truly brings them to life. This was a big takeaway from CES 2018 and a trend that we anticipate will play a starring role in 2018. Look for exhibitors to dim the lights so products offerings are the star of the show or even turn them up with unique lighting elements that make you say, “How did they do THAT?” This is a fun (and often not overly costly) way to bring a unique element into a booth that captures attention and draws people in for a closer look.

Trend Four: Technology: The Sky is the Limit

From OLED monitors to projection mapping and AR, technology is evolving at a staggering pace. While we don’t know where it will go next, we believe 2018 will be all about showing off the latest and greatest technology, programs, and equipment. Projection mapping is a unique way to project imagery and light onto a static object, bringing it to life. And LG’s OLED experience at CES 2018 was a breathtaking example of showcasing the awe-inspiring power of a product offering.

Trend Five: Engaging the Senses

Much like the first trend, a trade show can be a multi-sensory experience, rather than engaging only one or two senses. This goes well beyond typical hospitality. Think tactile elements like wood or cardboard, paired with beautiful sound, stunning lights, and a fragrance that sparks a beloved memory. While engaging all of the senses simultaneously could be overwhelming, finding different ways to pull out those unique elements isn’t—and can bring a space to life. Look for sights, sounds, smells, and experiences that wow in this category.

Want to look at last year’s trends? Read our Top 5 Trade Show Trends for 2017, and then check out the updates we made in the Top Trade Show Trends for 2018 Planning.