The International Association of Exhibitions and Events shared their insights on the future trends that would impact the global exhibition and events industry. It makes for interesting reading, so we thought we’d highlight the best bits here, so you don’t have to read the whole thing!
Younger people are now organising and attending exhibitions, bringing with them an understanding of and requirement for newer technology and social media integration. The modern trade show has become a technologically advanced event because exhibitors and attendees demand it.
Learning: Ensure a good generational breadth of staff on your stand to appeal to a more diverse audience, and thereby ensure you have different skillsets on hand.
Research, Data & Reporting
We all know that exhibitions deliver some great ROI statistics, but marketers are coming under increasing pressure to prove it, so they’re looking to exhibition organisers to qualify their ROI with attendance data and post-exhibition sales metrics. Exhibitors need more information than they ever did previously before deciding to attend an exhibition, including attendee demographics and attendee post research findings from previous’ years. Exhibitors also need to capture data during events to grow the data pool available and provide additional insights and learnings.
Learning: Ensure you have clear data capture processes on your stand, whether simple business card collection, promotions or more elaborate online, touchscreen solutions. Collect all the data you can from your own stand, as well as overlaying all the data from the organisers. We have several standalone iPad standoptions and we can also build them into any displays, plinths or walls. Check out our other blog post featuring ways to collect data.
Technology could be seen as a threat to exhibitions as more companies invest in online Webinars to talk to their audience. Certainly, exhibition organisers must now integrate mobile and cloud computing into their offering, with free WIFI a given but also having IT specialists on hand to keep everything running smoothly. Wireless apps have taken the place of paper in not only capturing information and but also engaging with attendees at the stand.
Learning: Make sure the event organiser has IT specialists around to assist with your set up. And if not, make sure you have an IT specialist as part of your set-up crew!
Social Media Marketing
Social media is already having a profound effect on business in general, and the same is true of the exhibition industry. Exhibition organisers must now leverage all the platforms as part of their exhibition or event planning, embracing ‘live’ twitter feeds to gather sentiment as well as marketing events through LinkedIn and Facebook. Video is growing in importance and we see cameramen and interviewers at work collecting footage for use by exhibitors and for upload to YouTube.
Learning: Use your social media channels and the event organisers’ channels to market your stand and your attendance at the show. Use these channels to provide a reason to come and visit your stand.
With the rise in social media, big events and exhibitions are no longer a once-a-year moment but have a voice and a brand presence throughout the year, participating in social media communities, offering their expert commentary and speaking as the voice of the industry they showcase just once a year.
Learning: Ask and research what the event organisers are doing throughout the year to market themselves and establish expertise in the market.
Experiential Trade Show
The ‘experience’ that attendees have at a show is growing in importance. Advances in technology enable exhibitors to provide ever more elaborate experiences, but as a consequence, the event’s IT infrastructure becomes ever more critical. The ‘experience’ factor is moving from an art to a science, backed up by research and that all-important data.
Learning: Consider what experience you will be giving your stand visitors. Will your stand be memorable and will it attract the right audience?
Non-attendees represent big business for many exhibitions, and so they must grab content to share with those that couldn’t make it and continue to keep them informed through social media and email marketing. Investing in Google Adwords can uncover new audiences that were previously non-attendees.
Learning: Invest in Google Adwords to attract your audience and keep those that couldn’t make it informed.
There is always a fear that as exhibitors move towards a more technology orientated stand, the need for and importance of face to face marketing will diminish. It’s important that exhibitors invest in the right people to manage their stands if they’re to deliver sales and ROI.
Learning: Don’t just ask for volunteers to man your stand, but choose the right people with the right qualities and then keep an eye on them throughout the event. Take a look at our blog article on staffing your stand here.
Event and exhibition venues will be measured increasingly on their IT infrastructure and ability to consistently service the growing needs of a techno crowd.
Learning: As an exhibitor, ask questions of the event organiser and of the event venue to ensure it can meet your needs.