The Future of Trade Shows: 5 Event Trends to Expect in 2021

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The Future of Trade Shows: 5 Event Trends to Expect in 2021

After an unprecedented year that 2020 brought us, many are wondering what the future of trade shows will look like. Nearly all businesses have transitioned into remote operations and changed the way they interact with clients and customers.

But what are trade shows for?

Their purpose is to create an opportunity for brands and customers to connect face-to-face in a physical environment. It allows companies to promote their product or service with their exact target audience at events where customers are actively searching for them.

So, in 2021 and beyond, there will be some changes to the way that exhibitors market their products/services at trade shows. Here are some of the event trends that companies should expect to see in the trade show experience.

1. Virtual and Hybrid Trade Show Experiences

Hungry Year Record Tradeshow

Many trade shows went virtual in a response to the COVID-19 pandemic – and it seems like this will continue to be the status quo. In fact, according to the Event Outlook Report from Bizzabo, 93% of business leaders plan to invest in virtual event strategies this year.

This same study reports that 97% of event markets expect to see a growth in hybrid events to balance both virtual and in-person trade show experiences. This will mean you need to set up both a physical and virtual trade show booth – while also balancing online and in-person interactions.

This leaves business leaders with some new challenges to balance both experiences. Flexibility, communication, and teamwork are crucial for making a hybrid trade show exhibition successful.

2. Trade Show Technology Advances 

Virtual Reality Surgery Demo

Image Source: visualise.com

One of the most enticing aspects of trade shows is learning about and using new products before the rest of the market. Many trade shows utilize cutting-edge technology and systems to make the event a success. In 2021, we can only expect to see even more cool gadgets and designs – especially when it comes to trade show booths.

Companies are starting to incorporate VR and AR into their trade show booth designs to give attendees a “hands-on” experience in a safe, controlled environment. For instance, medical device companies are commonly using VR to allow professionals to “test” out new equipment in a hospital room setting with patients.

Source

3. More Creative Marketing Space 

more creative marketing spaces post covid

Traditional marketing tactics like signs, banners, and promotional logos are not going to cut it. Attendees are inundated with promotional jargon everywhere they turn at trade shows. So to stand out, companies are going to have to get more creative with their ad space.

This involves utilizing every inch of space available to you at the trade show. You should be taking advantage of as many branding elements as you can to ensure you stand out.

For instance, look at this display we created for Ion, an audio technology company. The bright colors, overhead signage, and unique light display made them stand out above every other booth to attract more passersby.

Source

4. Trade Shows Will Get More Specific 

It may be a while before events can safely host thousands of attendees again. There will likely be a shift to hosting smaller, more focused trade shows. So instead of marketing to the industry as a whole, there will be events for each niche to control crowd size.

This presents incredible new opportunities for businesses to connect new segments and expand vertically within their market. Be sure to keep an eye out for new event announcements and consider tapping into these niche markets!

5. Booth Designs with Safety in Mind 

modified event locations

Safety is going to be a top concern for attendees and exhibitors if they are attending in-person events. According to the latest research from Northstar Meetings Group, 73% of event planners expect to require attendees to follow safety protocols, such as wearing masks and enforcing social distancing. 

This means exhibitors will need to keep this in mind when designing their booths and layouts. There needs to be ample space for attendees to gather – which is another reason why digital design elements are going to be crucial soon.

Conclusion

The live event and trade show industry is preparing for a strong comeback in 2021. Exhibitors need to be prepared to make the most of it. Staying on top of the latest trends is a great way to ensure that your business stands out from the crowd, whether it is virtually or in-person.  

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Loren Gundersen

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