Top 6 Creative Trade Show Marketing and Event Trends for 2017

It used to be that trade shows were used for a big reveal of an exhibitors new product, however, now that we are fully digital, those reveals happen in real-time every day. This means that for a trade show booth to be successful, vendors have to be creative. Here are the top six emerging event trends for 2017 and tips for implementing them successfully.


1. Mobile Event Apps

Most major events today are going to have created a dedicated mobile app just for the occasion. In fact, around 86 percent of event planners expect to have an app at their events in 2017. But what features are important to attendees? And most importantly, what features can planners add to increase engagement? The article Event Apps: What people want includes a few tips to crafting the perfect event app.

  • Start with signups. If you have a very in-demand event such as Dreamforce, you can require the app to signup and pay for tickets.
    custom media kiosks are definitely part of the event trends for 2017

    Custom Media Kiosks Get Your Message Out!

  • The app IS the official guide. Consider it a “going green” initiative. Don’t waste time, money, and trees printing agendas and maps, encourage users to download the app.
  • Allow users to create a personalized schedule of sessions and exhibits that are important to them.
  • Book meetings with various speakers, sponsors, or reps
  • Digital scrapbook of beautiful graphics and event handouts
  • Create polls and surveys and share the results in real-time


2. Beacon Technology

Once you have your event-specific mobile app, you may want to increase exhibitor engagement by allowing exhibitors to communicate with event goers in real-time by using push notifications. This technology uses geolocation and beaconing to send messages to the attendees’ mobile devices when they are near a booth or location. They may offer special VIP access or promotions or simply invite visitors to their booth. According to the article How Beacons can Transform Event Management and Trade Shows, emerging event trends for 2017 include seven key ways to use beaconing to engage attendees.

– gamification

– registration

– networking

– sponsorships and promotions

– navigation and heat mapping

– content delivery

– automatic check-in


3. Virtual Reality

VR experiences are a crowd-pleaser at trade shows. They are also a really great way to draw attendees to otherwise stuffy, corporate booths. At SXSW, one booth allowed event goers to try out two consumer-friendly VR cameras and helped them create their own immersive videos that the attendees could later watch on their own VR headset or a Google Cardboard viewer that only costs around $12.

According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, Scott Fauteux, director of sales for Somniacs had this to say about the VR trend:

“It doesn’t just use visuals, it brings your whole body into the experience.”


4. After Parties or Post Show Floor Events

Exhibitors used to use their booths strictly to make deals and engage with buyers. Today companies are leveraging their space to host hospitality events that begin after the show floor closes. After hours events can also be held off-site, these were particularly popular in larger cities like Chicago, Las Vegas, and Orlando where offsite venues are plentiful. In this article from Trade Show Best Practices, it is suggested that event trends for 2017 include some vendors downsizing their show floor presence, instead focusing on hosting after-hours events.


5. Gamification 

More and more exhibitors are using game-like elements or ‘gamification’ in their displays and booths. These items are well thought out and not just quickly thrown together. They are designed to provide memorable experiences for every attendee. In their section Ideas for Trade Show Contests and Games, Nimlok Marketing says exhibitors should, “take advantage of the natural human inclination to compete.”


6. Digital Recharging Lounges

People get tired at trade shows —thirsty, and hungry too. They need an oasis where they can rest their feet, indulge their appetite, and importantly, recharge their mobile devices.

charging stations are also an emerging event trend for 2017

Charging stations like this coffee table offer your visitors a place and a reason to stop and chat!

Digital recharging lounges combine old-fashioned hospitality with the mobile age. By providing a recharging and refueling station, you will be the attendee’s hero and also have a prime opportunity to gain insight, collect data and possibly win their business.

Recharging stations should be hardware agnostic and include:

  • Multiple AC power outlets
  • USB ports
  • micro-USB for Android
  • lightning connectors for Apple

In their article 10 Reasons Why Charging Stations are a Must Have for Trade Show Booths, Corbin, Ball & Co. suggests that while your visitors are recharging their devices you should:

Offer Them Food and Drinks: Beverages and snacks can be great icebreakers before engaging them in a pitch about your company and its offerings.

Promote Social Sharing: Decorate booth with your chosen #hashtags and catchy taglines that attendees can include in their messages. Have photo-ops in the recharge booth like lifesize cutouts of your celebrity endorsers or influencers.

These are only a handful of  emerging event trends for 2017. Did we leave any out? Share your ideas and connect with us today to learn how our experts can make your event ideas a reality.


Want to learn more about marketing your exhibit? Check out our articles on Going Mobile with Your Trade Show Display and Making A Product Demo Go Viral