Trends in Trade Show Displays: Weekly ‘Rap Up

With the year more than half over, trade show displays  and trade show marketing dollars need to be reviewed. Like any form of promotion, trade shows are constantly evolving, with presenters looking for new ways of luring people to their booths. You have to keep up if you want your trade show displays to continue bringing a strong return.

So, here are a few of the things we’ve most often seen cropping up in booths and getting mentioned in other trade publications.

#1 – Increasing use of technology and interactive displays.

free_ipad_kioskIt used to be that having a trade show booth with a lot of computers with fancy touchscreens was something that only the biggest players could afford, and meant giving up a lot of space housing them. Now, with tablet computers finally maturing, it’s beginning to become commonplace. Trade show kiosks with iPads on stands are now one of the most common interactive elements at any trade show of reasonable size, and since these devices can have many other uses outside of the trade show, they make for a good investment.

These give visitors a way to engage with your products and interact with them in a less restricted way than simply watching a video or reading a brochure. They allow for features such as virtual showrooms, or custom visualizations of the product being used.

#2 – Growing social media integration.

Social media, especially on smartphones, continues to be one of the biggest influences in virtually all forms of marketing, and social media usage at trade shows is growing strongly. This can range from simply requesting visitors become Fans or Followers on Facebook and Twitter, to offering special promotions or discounts to people “checking in” using location-based services like FourSquare.

QR Codes are also still commonly seen, although QR Codes are currently in a strange place where their novelty value is quickly declining even though they never really reached a saturation point. They can still be used as quick business card substitutes, although more ambitious uses of them are becoming less common.

#3 – Less emphasis on “Booth Babes.”

While you’ll certainly still see plenty of them, the practice is increasingly coming under fire from a number of sources. This is a matter of some controversy, as historically, scantily-clad women virtually always increase interest, or at least male interest. Critics point out that the practice can be degrading for both the women and the visitors, and can very often drive away prospective female customers.

Either way, with more trade shows either banning booth babes outright or restricting how sexualized they can be, it’s beginning to be seen as a wiser move just to avoid the controversy and look for presenters who are more gender-neutral. There’s also been some movement to simply include more “booth hunks” to balance out the babes, although the extent to which this improves upon the situation is debatable. (We plan to cover this in more depth in a coming post.)

#4 – Lighter, reusable, and more modular components.segue tension fabric modular trade show display-resized-600

With the economy still relatively weak, trade show displays and banner stands are still faced with lots of cost cutting pressure. As a result, banner stands and pop-up displays are increasingly being made of very lightweight, easily-transportable materials that can be set up quickly and moved cheaply.

Some are even attempting to move beyond the static “booth” concept entirely and make their trade show displays more modular, with several distinct sections visitors move between in a more “expo” fashion. The easy availability of lightweight materials makes this more practical, although it mostly depends on how clever you can be managing and partitioning the space you have on hand.

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