GES - 2012 Trend Tracker


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The event and trade show industry is getting refined, redefined and reinvented by face-to-face marketing departments around the world. Gone are the days of passive, tactical programs. Today’s events and trade shows are strategy-driven and goal-oriented. Translation: They’re getting stronger. This first-annual Trend Tracker, produced by Global Experience Specialists (GES), provides a rapid-release checklist of trends. Go through the list and check-off the ones you’re activating now. Circle others you know you should. And fill-in the ones you need to learn more about

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GES - 2012 Trend Tracker

  1. 1. Trend Tracker The annual list of the top 50 trends impacting trade shows and events this yearBell Helicopter 525 Relentless, Product Launch at Heli-Expo, 2012 WHITE PAPER SUMMARY The event and trade show industry is getting refined, redefined and reinvented by face- to-face marketing departments around the world. Gone are the days of passive, tactical programs. Today’s events and trade shows are strategy-driven and goal-oriented. Translation: They’re getting stronger. This first-annual Trend Tracker, produced by Global Experience Specialists (GES), provides a rapid-release checklist of trends. Go through the list and check-off the ones you’re activating now. Circle others you know you should. And fill-in the ones you need to learn more about.
  2. 2. 2 | Trend Tracker P&G Pet Care “The Art and Science of Balance” at the North American Veterinary ConferenceA Reinvented Industry:New Rules for the Realm of Live ExperiencesIt is being referred to as The Year of Change, and indeed it will be.Never before have marketers focused so heavily on change. Events and trade shows are getting analyzed,strategized, built and deployed with one thing in mind: a return on an investment. Passive and tactical programsare getting upgraded as marketers build all-new portfolios.At the center of it all is a push to get more efficient at the same time that event and trade show marketers tryto get more effective. “We are in a new era of driving real results,” says Doug Shockley, vp corporate events atGES. “Gone are the days of just using live experiences to drive awareness. Now they need to drive performance.”The creative side of the business is also getting upgraded, with the look and feel of trade show exhibits and eventenvironments becoming high-tech and high-touch. “The entire visual side of the business is getting reinvented,”says Errol Ahearn, executive creative director at Global Experience Specialists. “Technology is allowing us tocreate ultra-integrated footprints and media is allowing us to bring to life a story.”This first-annual Trend Tracker, produced by Global Experience Specialists, provides a rapid-release checklist oftrends. Go through the list and check-off the ones you’re activating now. Circle others you know you should.And box the ones you need to learn more about. Each year, we’ll update the Trend Tracker list and you can takea look to see where you were, where you are—and where you’re going. It’s an easy way to see the curve, andthen get ahead of | 800.424.6224©2012 Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES)
  3. 3. 3 | Trend TrackerMARKETING AND PLANNINGOne of the biggest changes of the year? That event marketers are actually marketing their events, taking apage from their media, online, direct and promotion counterparts and planning strategic event portfolios inadvance that leverage truly integrated marketing mixes.“We are finding that clients are adding more brain to their event brawn,” says Gina McDuffie, GES’ seniorvice president marketing. “We’ve been asked to do much more attendee segmentation, competitiveanalyses and research than ever before. A big booth, spectacular lighting and even trapeze artists don’tmake the event. Attracting the right people and delivering a message that appeals to them is what does it.” 01 Connective planning. 06 Fixed pricing. More marketers are planning events and trade shows as a “group” of The days of the open checkbook have given way to fixed budgets and activities connected to one single portfolio. Treating the programs change fees associated with getting a job done, forcing agencies to as part of the sum of all things is helping create smarter, more get creative when it comes to stretching dollars. Having less money integrated programs that are oftentimes more efficient and more to throw around means agencies and clients are spending less but effective than the disconnected programs of several years ago. spending smarter based on pre-event planning and production planning. 02 Spending on “pre” and “post.” Marketers are finding that they can amplify program results 07 Colocation logistics. by investing in pre- and post-event activations. From targeted Pre-planning is essential to making budgets go further. When promotions and branding campaigns that start weeks or months possible, event producers are scheduling trade shows and an experience goes live to post-program engagements that keep conferences back-to-back in hotels and convention halls to the momentum going, the before and after of brand experiences is capitalize on infrastructure and equipment costs. Renting tactical helping elevate it all. equipment such as forklifts for a month instead of four days, and re-using items when possible, such as trade show carpeting, also keeps costs down. 03 More for less. Budgets are still challenged, amid a changing economy, hence “getting more for less” remains the battle cry of the 2012 event and 08 Self-funding programs. trade show department. Over the last few years, some marketers A trend on the rise involves event departments receiving a portion have cut too much, essentially reducing results when they reduced of direct sales from events and trade shows back to their budget the spend. As such, the goal of 2012 efficient spending is “cut the lines. And in some cases entire programs are getting funded and fat, not the bone.” continued when the ROI skyrockets. Most common in growing b-to-b programs but in some cases expanding into consumer work. 04 Global portfolios. The experiential marketing industry is going global, and 2012 is 09 Dedicated post-program analysis. looking like the year many event departments begin to roll out Having a goal, then setting objectives to accomplish that goal is hardly global brand standards platforms that drop a consistent net across a new trend, but one practiced by the most successful exhibitors portfolios. The days of disparate voices around the world are and meeting producers. The final step is measuring post mortem to coming to an end as tactical teams begin to give their programs determine whether they accomplished their mission or not. Those strategic upgrades. that do this consistently show better results. It’s that simple. 05 Vendor consolidation. 10 Leveraging research. Centralizing business with fewer vendors is a trend that in today’s The more you know, the better you’ll be able to connect. Event economy makes good business sense, and the agencies that can and trade show teams are leveraging market research, focus handle global work are offering more self-contained services and groups, audience segmentation reports and even deep analysis economy-of-scale pricing, as they spread costs over more line items, of competitor booths and events. The insights are providing which leads to better pricing all around. For the right portfolio, it real-time, relevant data that is used to create better, stronger makes perfect sense. A trend guaranteed to continue to expand. experiential programs. MARKETING AND PLANNING TECHNOLOGY MAKING CONNECTIONS DESIGN | 800.424.6224©2012 Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES)
  4. 4. 4 | Trend TrackerTECHNOLOGYThe world of events and trade shows is getting wired, as marketers combine the power of online with fullyinteractive onsite footprints. Virtual events, social media and microsites are being layered against zone-designed footprints powered by interactive technology. The combination is reinventing the human connection.“Technology is allowing us to connect with our attendees long before the event or exhibit even happens andthen continue that momentum through the live experience,” says GES executive vice president strategy andmarketing David Saef. “Today’s wired footprint generates engagement, participation, reach and analytics.” 01 Digital collateral. attendee’s badge, ready for the booth personnel to interact with The biggest trend on the event circuit is the move toward digital on screen. The end result is a more worthwhile experience for collateral, retiring past efforts of shipping crates of printed order exhibitor and attendees. forms and sales materials. Marketers are pushing catalogues and product information to a web site or an attendee’s PDA. Sales reps 06 Proximity RFID. are taking orders online. It’s all electronic, which makes for greener The wireless technology recognizes and tracks attendees without events and less sore arms from lugging all that paperwork around. having to physically scan their badges. An electronic chip embedded within the badge stores information that can be read from several 02 Digital signage. yards away. Sound futuristic? It’s happening now. Say you’ve just Say goodbye to poster board and hello to digital signage. Just as landed at an airport on your way to a trade show or conference. You trade show and meeting content has gone digital, so have way- may be able to walk up to a plasma screen that “reads” your badge, finding signs and general information and sponsor banners via welcomes you and, based on your pre-show registration, delivers a digital delivery systems and projection systems. Digital signage personal message in your language. is easier to edit, more convenient to update and is greener than printing on paper. People printing fewer signs that need to be 07 Social media as attendee driver. discarded post-event. Facebook and Twitter are getting a huge upgrade in terms of how event marketers use them. Social media is being used to connect 03 Social media. with target audiences before an event and then convert those It’s not a trend; it’s a reality. Every event, conference and trade connections into live attendees. Translation: Social media is now show is leveraging Twitter, Twitter walls, Facebook, YouTube and becoming a feeder for live event attendance. other social networks to engage and inform attendees. Social media is a great way to keep in touch before, during and after the event. It 08 Real-time. can be a great platform for content delivery, on-site interactives and In a high-tech world, it all happens in real-time. Events, trade shows, remains the hub of true digital+live experiences. corporate meetings are embracing the concept of “real-time” as they stream sessions and allow virtual viewers to ask live keynoters 04 Real-time interaction. questions, taking the art and science of audience interaction to new A direct result of social media, this trend leverages feedback from heights. Twitter and Facebook followers and fans in-booth in real time. Product specialists, tablets in hand, can show attendees in real time 09 Leveraging video. what people like about a product, discuss their posts and address It’s the trend of the decade, and bandwidth is driving exponential problems. The immediacy is energizing and lends credibility to the growth. Video is becoming the default format for online marketing, in-booth experience. social media sharing, trade show social media activation and virtual events. The growth of tablets is also allowing booth and event 05 Smarter lead retrieval. personnel to generate more one-to-one video-based conversations. Lead retrieval systems are playing a bigger role in managing the experience for the attendee in the trade show booth. In the old 10 Hub and spoke hybrids. days, attendees would scan their badge and the exhibitor would Technology is reinventing the “hybrid” online-offline event model, know their basic information. Now, smart lead retrieval systems allowing marketers to combine virtual events with large “hub” reveal much more than that. They can tell if attendees are already events and localized “spoke” meetings that feed off both. The customers and if so, how important they are, their buying history goal is to reach more people and unite them, and hub and spoke and who their sales rep is. If the attendee is a prospect, pre-show models allow marketers to give attendees the choice to attend research tells the exhibitor why this attendee was targeted and who digitally or via large or small events. might be competing for his business. It’s all pre-loaded onto the MARKETING AND PLANNING TECHNOLOGY MAKING CONNECTIONS DESIGN | 800.424.6224©2012 Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES)
  5. 5. 5 | Trend TrackerMAKING CONNECTIONSThe way we connect with attendees of events and trade shows is getting an upgrade as companies try togenerate reach before events and drive deeper (and longer) engagements onsite and post-program.“Research is showing that the more relevant a connection you make at an event or trade show, the longerthat person will stay and engage,” says Doug Shockley, vp corporate events at GES. “Marketers are using newtrends and tools to extend that engagement.” 01 Personal engagement. 06 Big is back. In this age of “have it your way,” event producers recognize the Big companies are still looking to make a splash on the trade show value of creating a more personal experience for attendees. Rather floor. There’s no shortage of products to launch and companies than just handing out information, they’re pushing it to attendees’ continue to pull out the stops to promote them. They may have smartphones and other devices where they can interact with smaller budgets and are leaning more on vendors to do more with it, perhaps to order literature after a presentation or buy the less, but the big, bustling exhibit booth is alive and well, as anyone speaker’s book. Likewise, plasma screens on the show floor make who attended this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it easy for attendees to find sessions they want to attend. It’s all can attest where major exhibitors like LG, Samsung, Panasonic about the attendee. looked as big as ever. 02 Pre-event scheduling. 07 Better equipped sales people. The days of bombarding attendees with a huge event program book Event personnel are better educated and equipped with personal once they hit the show floor are all but gone. Nowadays, thanks to demonstration systems. Most are carrying electronic tablets to online pre-event schedulers, attendees set up meetings before they identify clients and push out the demos and literature. They’re arrive on site. Pre-event scheduling gives attendees more control confident, capable and comfortable doing it all with iPad in hand. over their time, so they spend less effort walking up and down an They’re also receiving more training from the event department aisle looking for someone to talk to. Attendees are more focused and being held to more stringent post-program follow-up and and enjoy a better experience thanks to pre-event planning. reporting. And at the center of many of these upgraded sales folks? Professional trainers brought in to train anybody and everybody that will be in that booth about the goals and objectives, the products 03 Attendees on a mission. and services on display and the best way to interact with attendees. Few buyers are attending trade shows or conferences just to kick the proverbial tires. They may be retail buyers seeking a new product to stock in their store or computer aficionados looking to network. 08 Customer paths. Whatever the case, they have a reason for registering and have an In many cases, experience designers are building event footprints objective to achieve to justify attending the event. around the “paths” that different types of attendees or buyers will take. And they’re targeting content, product and messaging around those paths, thereby preventing attendees from being exposed to 04 Edutainment. anything that’s not relevant to them. Attendees are looking for a big takeaway—something relevant and compelling—in return for showing up at events or trade shows. The best events offer experiences that are entertaining 09 Rewarding pre-registration. or educational, like a behind-the-scenes tour of a manufacturing A new trend, but one that is catching on, capitalizes on attendees’ facility, a motivational speaker, skill-building sessions or a top-notch desire for information and education. These days, savvy event performance, whatever it takes to give them a robust return on producers are rewarding those who pre-register for events or their investment of time and energy. set up meetings in advance with content, prizes, discounts and other bonuses. The real goal is to drive attendance and early participation is being generated using incentives. 05 Generating participation. If attendees are “edutained,” research shows they will stay longer and engage deeper, thereby generating participation, a key driver 10 Post-show follow up. of experience in 2012. Passive interactives are getting replaced by The “post-event” timeline has become a rather strategic path to activities designed to drive participation. These days, it’s about purchase, with marketers preparing and deploying lead follow- energizing, inspiring and wowing the crowd. up, secondary marketing outreach and additional events to push qualified buyers down the purchase funnel towards the ultimate sales goal line. MARKETING AND PLANNING TECHNOLOGY MAKING CONNECTIONS DESIGN | 800.424.6224©2012 Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES)
  6. 6. 6 | Trend TrackerDESIGNNot only are marketers changing the physical environment they create and build for events and trade shows,but they are also designing digital experiences linked to live. Planning for both online and offline allows for amore seamless, cohesive plan for marketers and a better experience for attendees.“Today’s event designers are creating the entire customer experience, from online to offline,” says ErrolAhearn, executive creative director at GES. “Technology is allowing us to create ultra-integrated footprintsand media is allowing us to bring to life a story.” 01 Zone approach. 06 LED lighting and screens. With marketers using more market research about attendees, As LED technology creates lighting and screens that are cheaper, they now know what attendees want and when. As a result, lighter and higher resolution, they’re being used more often in they’re designing event and trade show footprints with a zoned product presentations and theater settings. Although they may cost approach that draws attendees into different parts of the booth or more initially than traditional lighting systems, they are generally experience and puts them on a “path” that informs, educates and more energy efficient and longer lasting. entertains them. 07 High-tech lounges. 02 Changeable environments. Hospitality areas are going high-tech with iPads and other tablets In an effort to get more “efficient,” many event marketers and along with their comfortable couches and latte machines. The trade show managers are designing booths and event footprints tablets are built into customized, modern-looking stands next that can be changed on the fly. Media, banners and changeable to loveseats or large chairs and attached with a retractable cord reconfigurable exhibits can be retrofitted for different event types, so guests can hold them as they would a book or magazine and different booth sizes, etc. flip through the data. These lounges are a great way to increase engagement with attendees. 03 Rent-to-perm. Marketers are combining rentable exhibit properties with custom 08 Hybrid structures. ones, thereby helping them to achieve “more with less” at events In this tough economy, smaller- and medium-sized exhibitors are still and trade shows. Mixing custom and rental allows for efficient bringing their custom elements to trade shows, but supplementing properties linked to reconfigurable systems and layouts. them by renting big items like tower structures or conference rooms. It’s a trend that doesn’t make sense for exhibitors who travel to 10- plus shows each year, but for those who attend one big show and just 04 Media-driven architecture. a few smaller ones, these turn-key rentals give them the presence Media… is everything. The latest trade show booths and event they need without the expense. footprints are driven by media walls, Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi, apps and animation. Why? Because media tells the story and a truly wired, integrated media story takes a passive footprint and brings 09 AV systems and lighting. it to life. What some exhibitors may be downsizing in structure they are making up for by renting 103-inch monitors, projection screens and dynamic lighting systems for booths that are well-lit, dynamic 05 Fabric remains. and offer some “wow” factor. Much of the big fixed graphics on the trade show floor just aren’t there any more, or when they are, they are often smaller in size and lighter in weight. Hanging thread walls, simple sheers and fabric 10 Going green. headers are easier to transport and cost less to ship, an advantage More event marketers are highlighting the fact that their events for exhibitors doing multiple shows. were designed with the lowest impact on the environment in mind. These events make use of recycled materials or materials that will be recycled after the show. Sustainability is a core practice for some companies. That’s a good thing. MARKETING AND PLANNING TECHNOLOGY MAKING CONNECTIONS DESIGN | 800.424.6224©2012 Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES)
  7. 7. 7 | Trend TrackerTOOLSHardware, software, media and architecture have come together. Today’s event professionals have a fulltoolbox at their disposal, and leveraging new and proven tools is helping elevate live experiences to the nextlevel. “Connecting the right tools with the right event program allows clients to generate strong strategiesand stronger results,” says Gina McDuffie, GES’ senior vice president marketing. 01 Closed-loop wifi. 06 Power charging stations. Cutting-edge exhibitors are offering attendees closed-loop wifi These have been around for some time as trade show producers inside their booths, a cool way to engage attendees by inviting them have recognized the value of offering them near session rooms and to join their network. Closed-loop wifi is also a way to make the in hall ways. What is new is bringing power stations into the booth, a booth “sticky” because attendees tend to stay longer as they catch smart strategy on the part of exhibitors. After all, attendees waiting up on email and surf the web. for their phones or tablets to recharge will remain in the booth for five to 20 minutes, a perfect time for face-to-face engagement with sales reps. It just makes sense. 02 Personal messaging. Badge and attendee recognition systems that are preprogrammed into a database are leading to more personalized messaging. When 07 Customized premiums. attendees scan their badge at a booth the exhibitor knows who they People like anything personal, a trend that exhibitors in the health are, if they are already customers, what they have bought in the care realm have tapped into by offering digital posters, a hands-on past and the names of their sales reps. activity in which a physician chooses from a library of existing images to create a poster based on a certain disease state or product. It is printed in the booth with the physician’s name on it, along with 03 Smartphone apps. great content and detail that they can hang on their office wall. An Customized smartphone apps that attendees can download and view added bonus: while waiting for the poster to print, booth reps have later are a great way for companies to extend their reach beyond another opportunity to engage the physician. And the poster goes the event. An exhibitor at a recent American Diabetes Association into a tube printed with the company’s logo on it, giving exhibitors conference created an app that went viral after physicians additional visibility on the trade show floor. downloaded it at the meeting, then mentioned it to patients who also downloaded it. The app contained tips for a healthy diet, links 08 QR business cards. to restaurants and menus and other helpful info. Companies that These are another trendy custom giveaway in which attendees at produce similar apps win friends and widen their exposure. an event have their picture taken, then receive ten to 12 custom- made business cards printed on-site with a QR code that links to their 04 IPads for attendees. personal web site or their company’s site. Then they can pass them out to people who use their smartphone to link to that information, Exhibitors are ramping up the pathway experience through their perhaps weeks or months after they’ve given them the card. This is events by lending iPads or other tablets to attendees who interact a low-carbon type of giveaway that rewards and engages attendees. with its camera feature as they go through the exhibit. After checking into the redemption counter and handing off a passport or other form of photo ID which is held under lock and key, attendees 09 Incentives. use the tablet to snap QR codes throughout the booth, which Exhibitors looking to draw people into their booths have found immediately downloads and allows them to view video content or that attendees want giveaways that are unique and useful, not other data. By the time they leave the event they receive an email another rubber ball to give to their kids when they get home. with an electronic link to what they just explored. Another simple and elegant offering is a branded cellphone screen cleaner that attaches to the back of a phone, then peels off to wipe the screen. As one trade show attendee remarked, this is a 05 Physical activity. low-tech and adhesive, but it has worked for months and is really As an antidote to the plethora of technology at trade shows and quite beautiful. Imagine that. meetings, companies are often leveraging physical activity as a way to engage attendees and make charitable contributions. They may involve attendees in painting a large mural or constructing a small 10 Geo-location elements. piece that will be used in a sculpture, then reward the effort by GPS is becoming a powerful weapon in the modern day event contributing to a local charity, or the activity may be as simple as a marketer’s toolkit. Once we know “where” our target audiences Saturday morning 5K fun run in which an exhibitor contributes to a are we can go to them… or bring them to us. Event programs are cause in the name of the participant. These may be low-tech but they leveraging GPS technology to drive attendance, lead attendees on are high-value alternatives to our plugged-in world. personalized journeys through experiences and more. Watch for Foursquare to get big play in trade show booths. MARKETING AND PLANNING TECHNOLOGY MAKING CONNECTIONS DESIGN | 800.424.6224©2012 Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES)
  8. 8. 8 | Trend Tracker Harry Potter: The Exhibition, Opening Event at Discovery Times Square, New York City ABOUT GES Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES), a Viad Corp (NYSE: VVI) company, is a leading marketing agency that produces exhibitions, events, exhibits and retail environments. GES provides a wide range of services, including turn-key official show services, cutting- edge creative and design, marketing and measurement services—all with an unrivaled global reach. GES partners with leading shows and brands, including the International CES, Spring Fair Birmingham, International Woodworking Fair, CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE, Bell Helicopter, Genzyme, L’Oreal, Warner Bros., and Simon Property Group. GES’ National Servicenter℠ has been recognized with certification under the J.D. Power and Associates Certified Call Center Program℠ for the past four years, and Ad Age has twice named GES a “World’s Top 50 Agency Company.” For more information, visit or the GES blog at | 800.424.6224©2012 Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES)