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10 Trends to Consider for Your Next Trade Show or Live Event

Planning and Strategy

Sales teams look to sell beyond square footage, as marketers develop pre-event engagement with strategic partners. Data managers prepare surveys and platforms and creatives huddle with technologists to create the customized touchpoints that will bring attendee and sponsor goals to life. Everybody at the planning table is speaking analytics and customization.     


1. Using virtual sponsorships to utilize more of the blank space at an event

With the help of technology, such as HoloLens, designers and technologists are expected to take a stronger role in the building of sponsorship packages thanks to innovations like HoloLens. Marketers are restricted by the amount of sponsorable space in an event because of the physical limitations. But imagine digital overlays in venues and as attendees, equipped with sponsor-provided HoloLens-style devices, walk through they are seeing billboards, banners, and talking heads. All this, with no additional labor costs.


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2. Reach your audience with non-endemic sponsors

As b-to-b events become more b-to-c, show organizers are building sponsorship packages that accommodate non-endemic brands that want a piece of a qualified, captivated audience, like millennials or business decision-makers with spending power.

“We’re closing the gap and leveraging our audience to attract brands to new events,”
says MK Bedosky, Product Manager at ReedPOP.

“With technology, you can measure audiences differently, capturing leads on-site and instantly knowing if you hit the mark.”

Picture via

Airbnb sponsor Brooklyn half marathon

3. Using data to capture the emotions of the audience

The role of a creative director has taken many twists and turns over the past few years. Now it will become more strategic than ever before.

“The role today involves interpreting raw numbers, and how you leverage it in your event design with actionable insights that your clients can solve decisions through,” 
says John Woo, Vice President of Creative and Design at GES. 

“But it can be challenging to leverage data, because the direct dollar to output ratio is a bit skewed as measuring the success of design involves emotion. You have to wear multiple hats—interpreting data, what’s trending as well as what emotionally connects with attendees.”

Creative Intelligence


4. Using the VIP experience to build better relationships for high-value contacts with top-secret events

Executive tracks are nothing new, but now, entire events within events are designed for high net worth attendees looking to engage with a small percentage of the audience in a streamlined experience. Private invitations and programs that aren’t advertised to the general attendee population are being created to enhance the VIP feel, as well as for logistical reasons. Think “fast-track” passes for your executive suites (or experiences throughout an event) that allow your VIPs to immediately bypass entry barriers via an RFID badge scan.

Top Secret Events


5. Creating content to support the show and amplify the audience

Content is king for companies fighting for eyeballs, and the event space is no different. Content creators will be key to the event marketing team in the future, developing quality-vs.-quantity content plans for all stages of the event.

“We’ve used curation in the publishing world, but I think as we create curated event experiences, the content piece in events will become more important,”
says Christine Martin, Marketing Director of GES’ EMEA region.


6. Customize the experience to the exhibitor's needs with real-time support

The GES registration and intelligence platform, VISIT, is putting an intelligent spin on the exhibitor experience. Exhibitors are queried on their event-specific goals prior to signing up, and organizers assist exhibitors in reaching their audiences pre- and at-show. Organizers then conduct visual and environmental audits of every exhibitor at the show and can provide real-time feedback to improve presence. During the show, executives are sent information on exhibitors not meeting their lead generation goals in real-time, and conduct interventions, like tweaking their on-floor presence, to improve performance.


7. Optimize the attendees time to improve their overall experience with next-gen throughput solutions

With more immersive technologies in the event footprint comes a higher risk for the “stand and stare” epidemic in the queue line. Planners have come up with different styles of solutions, from queue-line engagement to gamification to one-on-one chats with product experts. But this year will be the year that the queue officially disappears, replaced by the high-tech reservation system. Expect sophisticated reservation tactics that help speed up (or bypass) the traditional data collect altogether, while saving valuable time for attendees looking to make use of every minute they have at the event.


8. Using Data to Make Intelligent Decisions

Collecting data isn’t enough, you need to use the data to make informative decisions. Greater and greater use of apps, platforms, and real-time data tools translates into an abundance of valuable data that must be carefully managed. Enter the data manager, who understands the intricacies of data and how to slice and dice to increase its value. And behind that rock-star data manager—the event data warehouse.



8. Customize the attendee journey with guided tours

The rise of the personal shopper (including digital platforms like Stitch Fix for consumers) points to a larger trend emerging in events, where attendees are directed to what they want to see, rather than spend time finding what matters to them. Think tours, individualized event road maps, and choose-your-own-adventure programs.



10. Take your events beyond the event by incorporating your other marketing channels

As events are fully folded into the marketing mix—the industry poised for substantial growth—expect to see an influx of marketers from other disciplines like retail, advertising, direct marketing and shopper marketing, looking to spread their wings in the event space. This cross-pollination of marketing expertise is helping sectors like the trade show space, which has been performing well but is traditionally slow to innovate. New perspectives, new ideas, new ways of working…and even more recognition for the power of events.

Cross Pollination