This excerpt is reprinted here with permission from Facilities & Destinations magazine. Click here to view the Spring issue online.
On The Agenda; Trade Show Floor Trends
These immersive environments are evolving into much more than a “box” for exhibitors
Ken Dec, EVP, Marketing and Client Strategies, The Expo Group
Dana Freker Doody, VP, Communications and Public Relations, The Expo Group
Meaghan Girouard, Designer, The Expo Group
Clay Lovelace, VP of Design and Creative Services, GES
Danielle Puceta, Vice President, Digital Office, Freeman
By George Seli
There are many aspects to creating a compelling experience for delegates on the show floor â€” the ind that encourages them to spend more time in that key area. Who better to expound on the latest approaches to show floor design than the uppliers to some of the biggest, most successful radeshows in the world? In the following discussion, representatives from The Expo Group, Freeman and GES overview developments in areas such as layout, networking spaces, branding, technology and sustainability. Their insights can help organizers take their show floor experience to the next level.
CHANGING FOR THE BETTER
Doody: “We want to reinvent our show.” That is a common refrain for our own clients and ones coming to us for help as they strategically determine the best course of action for the future of their tradeshows and events. We have been work-ing with organizers for years to make changes both big and small that create truly compelling experiences for exhibitors, attendees, sponsors, speakers and members. The National Retail Federation is one such group, which completely upended their Shop.org event from the floor layout to the branding scheme to the actual programming. Girl Scouts of America is another that heard the call for change and created meaningful spaces where scouts and adult leaders could interact with materials, ideas and each other in the midst of the trade-show environment.
Doody: Spaces and activities that encourage both structured networking and unstructured networking will play a vital role in the future of tradeshows. â€œI donâ€™t want to be sold toâ€ is a common attendee, perhaps human, complaint, especially from Millennials and those in Gen Z. The trick is to build a tradition of these gath-ering spaces so attendees know where to meet, and so exhibitors and sponsors can send the right personnel to the event, the kind of personnel who understand how to build relationships in these spaces, rather than attempting to close deals in a booth. Itâ€™s a different kind of selling paradigm.Â
Girouard: Community spaces are very alluring to Millennials. Though they are very comfortable with social media and technology, they still look for opportunities to network and engage face-to-face with experts in their field. Creating engaging activations within community spaces thus makes a lasting impression from the overall experience, which gives Millennials that personal sense of community so important to them.
NEW FRONTIERS IN EVENT TECHNOLOGY
Dec: The biggest advancements in event technology are its use to make human interaction and understanding even more powerful. This is happening, and very quickly, in two areas: bots and AR/VR/MR [augmented, virtual and mixed reality, respectively]. The use of chatbots to answer, via highly respon-sive text, the 60-90 questions common to most events enables organizers to focus on the more value-added and complex needs of attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. Bots also “learn” so they can improve their own interactions with humans during the event and future events. The cost of AR/VR/MR (especially AR) experiences continues to drop, and so their use to enhance or “transport” attendees to places, ideas and even cultures otherwise unreachable on a show floor are taking off. This is particularly true of AR, which adds a digital experience layer to the physical experience in ways that are engaging, empathetic, educational and entertaining.
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