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Event Marketing and Engagement Beyond the Architecture

Event Marketing and Engagement Beyond the Architecture

The exhibition and event industry has evolved well beyond the limits of 3D architecture. Once upon a time, a designer would receive a brief which outlined the physical objectives of an event or exhibit.

 A classic brief would be “Open and inviting, representing the company in a modern and informative way, accommodating spatial needs, display space, graphics, reception, hospitality space, conference rooms, office and storage.”  It was straightforward for a 3D designer to create a functional space and create a look that appealed to the client.  It’s no longer such a simple process!

Businesses expect and deserve far more out of their investment, management are demanding that exhibit managers demonstrate return on investment (ROI), and why not?

The message is coming in loud and clear - our customers are demanding much more than just an attractive stand. Customers need our extensive expertise to exploit every marketing opportunity to persuade customers to travel around the world to come to see them.

Exhibitions and events are no longer about which company is the biggest and spends the most, although it does help!  Attendees expect to be entertained with a memorable, personalised experience unique to them, it’s all about engagement, measurement and how we utilise the latest technologies and trends.

It’s our responsibility to propose new engagement ideas to drive value to the attendee’s experience, with so many ways where do you start? What is the objective of the client, make sure the client understands the most recent trends and technologies available. Don’t use technology just because it looks cool! Technology can put people off, unsure what they need to do, concern that the customer won’t understand it and feel alienated. Remember engagement ideas don’t have to be hi-tech. One of the best received ideas was for the Boeing Centennial Pavilion at FAS 2016, Giving the customer the opportunity to make a paper aeroplane, so simple, so natural to every person of all ages!

Paper airplane design

Boeing were one of the first to introduce the air stewardess

Keep it simple, playful make the attendee curious and reassured of the engagement even before they participate, have staff encouraging and using technology, showing customers how simple, informative and engaging it is….make it memorable, fun facts that stick in the mind! Did you know that Boeing were one of the first to introduce the air stewardess!

If a customer wants to create multiple environments to demonstrate a product, rather than creating multiple sets, utilise LED or projection mapping technology to create a changing environment in one space, saving space and making a far more immersive experience for the attendee.

LED Lighting can help to transform your exhibit and point visitors in the direction of key information. Lighting is very important, not only for creating a well-lit space but to focus the eye, change the way you feel about a space, change your mood, lighting can make you alert, relax and even make you hungry. Aircraft manufacturers do it all the time, Boeing – who made mood lighting one of the prominent cabin features of its 787 Dreamliner and 737 Sky Interior – are now evolving beyond mood lighting to include project technology and high-definition animations that bring the cabin to life.


Brightstar transitioning display colors by the time of day.

For Brightstar , Blitz transformed the exterior of the Mobile World Congress pavilion to draw attention to the structure but also denote different times of the day, Brightstar sunrise yellow/red in the morning, setting sunset in the evening. When Brightstar held a party one night, the lighting emphasized the DJ’s music and transformed the space with a nightclub feel for the evening.

Brightstar transitioning the colors of display by the time of day.

The following year, Brightstar wanted to be different and surprise the industry with a brand new approach to convey the whole of the Brightstar offering. Bolder use of technology was highlighted throughout the exhibit.

Inside and outside, design can help set the boundaries of your event.
Every client wants to stand out from the crowd and be distinctly different, we are constantly pushing the boundaries to exploit new technology and systems.
Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries, as was recently done with external graphic fixing systems to create a unique structures at Farnborough Air Show, curving exterior graphics in all vertices.

We are often asked to introduce water features into exhibits. This can be challenging because of the possibility of leaks. The example below demonstrates a fun way of utilizing water and encouraging attendees to use branded umbrellas to prevent getting wet, playful and memorable.

use branded umbrellas to prevent getting wet

To avoid having to deal with getting wet and the complications associated with introducing water, you can utilize technology to create an impression of water that can be impactful and fun.

create an impression of water that can be impactful and fun

Clients are constantly looking at ways to drive value to the business with any investment. Lockheed Martin requested to design and build a permanent pavilion for Farnborough 1996. The show was open for seven days, and was such a success that they asked to keep it up until the next show in two years’ time. 2018 Farnborough Air Show still has the pavilion standing and is being used. It also has a permanent chalet and bridge…22 years and going strong.

Lockheed Martin using a skybridge to connect to additional event space.

Ultimately, we need to be able to create that memorable experiential exhibit. 3D designers have had to think way beyond the traditional architecture of an exhibit. From learning new skills and incorporating pre-, during and post-show marketing ideas to introducing digital engagement that exploits every moment, we need to be creative to make the attendees’ experience unique!

Help your clients to understand the industry, including expanding an understanding of other sectors which approach exhibits and events in different ways. Share show design audits, and create presentations that demonstrate how new technology is cleverly used. A designer’s job is now part designer, part marketer, part digital creative … and part magician!


About the Author

Executive Creative Director at GES, Creative team leader delivering international exhibition programmes. Mark joined GES some 30+ years ago following formal design training in Exhibition and Museum designer, initially starting his career as a museum designer and moving over to exhibition industry. Mark has a wealth of knowledge and experience, having worked on projects throughout the world, with genuine enthusiasm to create and develop intelligent, practical and original creative solutions that go beyond architecture incorporating experiential and engaging technologies to maximise value to the customers.

Profile Photo of Mark Sykes