The world of marketing is all about trends and the ability of marketers to identify and cultivate them. ~ John Rampton, Online Influencer

Trade shows continue to be an important part of a company’s marketing mix. After all, where else can exhibitors meet hundreds of eager prospects searching for solutions under one roof in just a few days?! In fact, according to Exhibitor Magazine, 77% of companies surveyed intended to either increase or maintain their trade show budges for 2018. Let’s face it, in a digital world, meeting face-to-face allows attendees to form an emotional connection to a brand that other forms of marketing and advertising can’t achieve.

2018 trade show statistics

Courtesy of Exhibitor Magazine

However, attendee expectations have changed. Attendees are demanding more memorable experiences and engagement opportunities that the same old exhibiting techniques may not provide. The use of event technology and other booth elements can help satisfy this new breed of event goer, such as Millennials and Gen Xers, “for whom technology is not just a tool, but a lifestyle”.

There are many marketing trends that can be used to raise attendee engagement, but here are four we’d like to remind you of that you can integrate into your exhibit now:

Virtual Reality

Whether it’s the popular Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR or Google’s Daydream, virtual reality is becoming more accessible and easier to use. Exhibitors now have a cost-effective way to give themselves a competitive advantage by incorporating virtual reality into their booths. VR helps attendees experience the full impact of a product’s features and brings an entire environment to life by immersing the user in a scene in the most realistic way possible. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t transport all your heavy equipment or products, or just want to make a splash with a product launch, VR may be your solution. Plus, it’s new and exciting, a booth magnet and most attendees are happy to participate.

Ford uses VR to showcase the new Transit Connect at NTEA

Ford uses the VR Experience to showcase the new Transit Connect at NTEA

Social Walls

Exhibitors have been using social media as a way to create buzz around their events for a long time, but have recently discovered a new way to increase engagement and interaction with a live social media feed. As the name suggests, a social wall is a digital screen that aggregates and displays social media posts or hashtags.  A social wall can turn a passive attendee into an active participant. By creating hashtags, contests and requesting that visitors post photos from your booth to social media, you’ve turned attendees into brand evangelists. Your brand! Plus, you can keep the conversation going long after the event has ended.

Barco uses social wall at InfoComm

Barco uses a social wall conceptualized by TPG to promote its brand and contest at InfoComm.

Transparent Screens with Touch Technology

If you want your trade show booth to stand out in spectacular fashion, consider employing transparent screens to tell your brand’s story. Transparent screens used to be considered futuristic, but advancements in technology make them readily available for a variety of applications. This allows exhibitors to think of imaginative uses for these gorgeous displays that competitors are unlikely to match. Because of their unequaled clarity and vibrant color, transparent screens are opportune for companies which need to show off the detail and accuracy of their products or solutions. One such industry is the medical field. For example, TPG used transparent OLED screens to show remarkable surgical images that attracted a sophisticated audience for our client at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) annual meeting.

Transparent OLED screens at a trade show

TPG presenter delivers the pitch in front of transparent OLED screens at AANS.

Visitor engagement can be taken up a notch by integrating the screens with touch technology, giving attendees interactive capability. You’re only limited to what you can display by your imagination – tell your customer stories with testimonials, show magnificent product images, even create contests or conduct surveys. Attendees will be transfixed.

The two most popular transparent screen displays are OLED and LCD.


OK granted, lounges are not new in the design of the trade show exhibit space, but they’re still worth mentioning as an older trend that can be upgraded to a productive environment in which business gets done. Who doesn’t appreciate a warm and inviting place to rest the weary bones? Seating is always at a premium in any exhibition hall and people will appreciate that your booth is a respite from the hustle and bustle. However, you can still be productive by having your staff take advantage of a captive audience to begin conversations that start the trade show sales cycle. Exhibit staff can use the occasion to take leads or deliver demos. You can even incorporate screens in the lounge area that tell your brand’s story, direct them to areas of interest in your booth, or display demo and presentation schedules. You’ll really hit a home run by serving refreshments or providing charging stations! Is this frivolous in the scheme of exhibit things? No, because research has shown that today’s attendees remember experiences, not just products. Avoid the “hard sell” by providing a welcoming and comfortable space to lounge around in.

Booth lounge

Oldcastle turns entire booth into a lounge at Greenbuild, creating the anti-booth.


Exhibitors are always looking for ways to attract customers out of the aisles and into their booths. The objective is to stand out from the sea of others and create memorable experiences for your booth visitors. By integrating marketing trends into your trade show exhibit you’ll not only achieve a competitive edge, but you’ll make your sizable investment more profitable, productive, rewarding, memorable and yes, even fun!

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7 Social Media Strategies to Enhance Your Trade Show Experience

Lead On-Site Director