Oh, Hello Branding Group
It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year — trade show season! OK, “favorite” might be a stretch, but hey — we’re marketers. It’s our job to make things sound fun.
The long-awaited trade show season is upon us, and it’s busier than ever. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, people have been itching to gather and network again.
With the pandemic shifting events to virtual setups, there have been some shake-ups at trade shows across all industries over the last two years.
Trade shows bring buyers and sellers together in a close, face-to-face manner that strengthens the human connection, educates, and generates excellent business activity. Don’t get left behind — prepare yourself for this year’s trade show season and check out these trends for 2022.
1. Quality over Quantity
Like your target audience, you should focus on quality rather than attendance numbers. Sure, 150 newsletter sign-ups are great. But are they your target customers? If not, you’re just wasting your time and resources. Put your energy into attracting and engaging with potential clients and partners. Quality vs. quantity will go a long way.
2. Engaging and Immersive Experiences
After spending two years indoors, attendees are expecting more from you and your business. Everyone is sick with Zoom fatigue. They want to get out of the house to experience something exciting and unique. No pressure, right?
You're in luck. With access to immersive and advanced technologies, you've got plenty of options for fun. One trend we noticed last year was the rise of immersive LED cubes. You can use these for videos, images, animation, and anything else you can dream of. These LED cubes will make your booth stand out and draw in larger crowds — you’ll be the “escape booth” that everyone runs to when they need a break from the others.
3. Vendor Shortages
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain shortages, we expect to see a continuing struggle with suppliers that support trade shows. Because of this, you’ll want to plan out your booths, marketing material, events, and promotional products much farther in advance than you would’ve pre-pandemic.
Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a back-up plan. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last two years, it’s that you never know what might happen. It’s better to be prepared and ready for the worst-case scenario.
4. Innovative Technology
With many industries shifting to remote life, workers rely on technology more than ever. New, innovative tech is exciting, but people are looking for a healthy balance between in-person and digital business opportunities.
You could offer a virtual reality experience at your trade show booth to strike that balance. It's immersive, high-tech, and great for business. Whether you choose a game or even something simple like a tour of a building or project you've completed, VR attracts people to your booth and leaves them with lasting impressions.
Sustainability is in the spotlight like never before. It’s important to highlight your sustainable practices and the impact on the environment your business has. Claiming to be sustainable isn’t enough; brands need to provide evidence of improvement in practices.
6. Virtual and Hybrid Shows are Here to Stay
Trade show organizers predict virtual and hybrid events will continue, although in-person events are preferred. Take your trade show booth virtual and offer various experiences for all attendees; they'll appreciate your versatility and flexibility. Intentionally offering a range of options will make people feel seen, heard, and cared for.
As we’re still navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, people are still concerned about their health and safety — especially at large events where people from all over the globe come together.
It’s predicted that competition among companies offering testing, vaccination proof, and safety consulting services for business events will continue.
8. Networking is More Important Than Ever
We weren’t kidding when we said people were itching to get out of the house — there are only so many Netflix shows to binge.
Networking has always been one of the biggest draws for trade shows. After two years of social distancing, it’s more important than ever to create intentional opportunities for attendees to meet and connect at your booth.
Facilitate an interactive game at your booth where attendees have to converse and work together to complete a challenge — a scavenger hunt is a great example. The game will get people talking and working together, giving them an enjoyable — and most importantly, memorable — experience. And it all happened at your booth. When attendees reflect on their trips and show experiences, your brand will be first to mind.
The last two years have given us a lot of time to reinvent ourselves — maybe a little too much time, if we’re being honest. We don’t know about you, but we’d be OK if we never touched another self-help book again.
Although it’s been a challenging two years, it’s given you time to re-evaluate your business strategies and tactics to help you create even better event experiences. Now is the perfect time to reinvent your brand and test out those new experiences, putting you in a better position for the new future of trade shows.
10. Next-level Marketing
As much as we love traditional trade show marketing displays with banners, logos, and signs, it just won't do anymore. At least, not all on its own.
We've all been living online for the past two years, and trade show attendees expect your marketing to reflect that. It's time to get wildly creative with your booth's displays — go big or go home. Try using vibrant, eye-catching colors and light and digital displays (like those LED cubes) to stand out from the rest.
We're thrilled to see trade shows coming back better than ever, and we're excited to help our clients have the best (and most fun) trade show experiences while giving their booth visitors the same.
Not sure where to start with your upcoming trade show or event? Drop us a line. Trade shows, events, and conferences are our bread and butter. We’ll make your next event your best one yet.