If 2013 was all about marketers finding
differentiation strategies to distinguish their
event and exhibit programs from the
competition…this year, it’s all about employing
strategies to enhance the experience.
Click below to achieve new heights in
engagement in 2014!
2014 Event Trends
For our annual trend forecast, we put together an
interactive map to help you navigate this year’s hottest
event trends. Click on one of the points of interest to
start your 2014 engagement journey!
Dress For Success
iPads and tablets are evolving to their mature state, and the next big thing is
coming—a major growth surge in wearable technology. From Google Glass,
smart watches and bracelets, to NFC rings and smart clothing, there are
many potential uses for these transportable technologies at trade shows and
These functionally fashionable items will soon invade the show floor as
essential personal assistants for attendees and experience enhancers for
exhibitors. Simple notetaking, advanced networking (face recognition
reminders or location alerts when people of like interest come into range),
information collection at booths, and navigational assistance on the show floor
barely scratch the surface of possibility for these devices.
We’re in a time where books, news, video, and even our social circles are
dematerializing into the digital space. The emergence of 3D printing
technology reminds us that people still possess the desire to live in a physical
3D printers are already extremely versatile but due to price constraints, they
have yet to become mainstream. However, there is a wealth of opportunities
for 3D printing in the event and trade show industry, from crowdsourced
designs and special giveaways to suspenseful product reveals.
From Paper to Pixels
Event marketers are moving toward a completely paperless industry and
developing electronic media to share with their attendees. As all data
becomes digitized, pilot conferences are giving out information-packed tablets
in lieu of paper binders full of collateral.
Similarly, it’s much easier to capture and store many different kinds of
information about customers and prospects and use that information to tailor
future attendee experiences.
Back to Map
Across the array of event programs—from sales meetings to corporate
summits to exhibits—there’s a growing trend toward a collaborative,
immersive type of attendee interaction. The campus format is becoming more
popular, where everyone shares a collective experience in one communal
But, it goes beyond the experience—from authentic to awe-inspiring, it’s a
tangible, multi-sensory environment that completely immerses the attendee
and engages all five senses. Between audio zones, interactive art activities,
taste tours, eye scanning, and more, it’s only a matter of time before smell
makes an appearance, too!
Will this be the year that the convention industry at long last pledges to provide
24/7 connected Wi-Fi for a better attendee and exhibitor experience?
Attendees expect access, and there’s no question how crucial a reliable
connection is for exhibitors.
Imagine if a convention center’s show management lifted their Wi-Fi
parameters. Exhibitors would be able to develop robust apps, execute
complex social media components, send content of interest instantaneously to
qualified leads, and more!
Take It To The Crowd
For several years, event organizers have been taking advantage of the power
of crowdsourcing, asking for attendee input pre-event. But now there is a shift
to creating crowdsourced experiences. By encouraging those who are at an
event to share their different perspectives and viewpoints via attendee-
generated photos or videos, crowdsourcing makes an event or trade show a
longer experience in time and space.
Aside from creating a sense of community and connectivity between those on-
and off-site, crowdsourced experiences can reach an even wider audience and
build tremendous buzz—making those unable to make it to the event inspired,
intrigued, and more inclined to attend in person in the future.
Back to Map
Without proper facilitation, technology is just another shiny object on the
show floor. We’re seeing more and more technology paired with
“engagement agents” to streamline technology interactions.
High tech “illusionists” manipulate tablets, interacting with various forms of
multimedia content to create powerful, interactive effects. Perhaps it’s a
Siri-like artificial intelligence or life-size virtual presenter to man an
activation zone and interact with you at a kiosk. Or, a gamified program that
employs leap motion technology. Or, brainwave-sensing headband Muse
allows your attendees to control a live demo or digital activity.
The Short Report
With an abundance of information and resources constantly at their fingertips,
customers have more control in the buying process than ever before.
Because of this, event marketers need to captivate potential customers fast
and give them a very easy, desirable next step. You’ll see information that
appeals to how today’s customer thinks delivered in “short bites” instead of
“one giant meal” (à la TED Talks).
If your booth includes a business theater component, communicate your
messaging in quick 90-second increments
After the present, connect attendees with docents who answer
more specific questions or help them find what they’re looking for.
Keep It Personal
Beyond the self-guided tour, event environments are being split into distinct
zones that allow an attendee to “choose their own adventure”, following an
unrestricted pathway through an event or booth experience. It also allows
attendees to stay on a personalized course of engaging with products and
services that are relevant for them.
Back to Map
New research continues to show B2B buyers are mimicking
consumer behaviors when making purchases—meaning they are
sophisticated and savvy, and more willing to pay more for services
that offer an improved customer experience. B2B and B2C have
merged, and this new Business-to-Everyone model is here to stay.
But what does it mean for events and trade shows? According to a
recent CEIR study, the most prominent emerging need for attendees
at trade shows and events is having specific questions answered on
the spot. The attendee journey is more customized than ever. To
deliver a positive brand experience and make it to a buyer’s short list,
exhibit staff must find ways to engage attendees and be prepared to
deliver custom answers specific to the attendee’s needs and
If an attendee fails to engage and come away with a positive
experience from your booth, it’s likely they’ll move on to another
brand who can deliver the solutions they need.
F2F On Hyperdrive
With this new B2E model, there’s a re-energized emphasis on
urgency when it comes to customer service. Video chat utilities and
new streaming technology allow for more immediate personalized
Now, the trend shifts to F2F. For example, Beam remote presence
technology is being integrated into booth programs to increase
awareness and connectivity so any customer can engage with a
product or talk to a subject-matter expert in real-time—no matter their
Back to Map
From Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and LinkedIn, the majority of
trade show and event marketers are already integrating basic social
media tactics into their programs. It’s time to look to the horizon—a new
crop of social media is emerging, with interaction becoming more
integrated with the face-to-face, physical world.
From RFID bracelets to facial recognition, marketers are leveraging
new technology to help attendees tag their locations, post photos,
document activities, or customize their own digital memorabilia to
instantly share on their personal networks.
The rise of the selfie in 2013 clearly defined social media’s supreme
influence. A direct response to our highly visual culture, the selfie
phenomenon proves people crave self-expression, familiarity, and a
privileged perspective. The popularity of sharing selfies gives way to a
shift for future social media applications in B2B events, pointing to a few
ideas event and exhibit marketers should consider.
Make your in-booth experiences relevant to your attendees so they’re
inclined to share on their own without being enticed by a giveaway or
incentive. Look for unique ways to make your program creative,
interesting, and personal to each attendee to boost their possibility of
Exhibit and event managers must start thinking beyond a marketer’s
POV and employ practical applications that convey sincerity and make
the attendee feel exclusive.
Back to Map
The idea of “bring your own device” is becoming widespread.
Exhibitors are starting to use lead capture systems on their own
devices. QR codes on attendee badges are promising even more
personalized engagement, such as providing relevant content to
attendees based on their location on the show floor.
Clickable Paper, an app that allows you to click on an image in
your phone without even scanning a QR code, redirects you to a list
of options from a product listing on Amazon to a YouTube video to a
The app is available for both iOS and Android, so the vast majority
of attendees would be able to use this app in conjunction with booth
signage, product demos, and more.
All In One
The next big thing in data communication technology, NFC, or near-
field communication, may permanently be coming into its own.
NFC is RFID’s distant cousin, enabling mobile devices to send or
exchange data immediately when in close proximity and allowing
attendees to trigger their own experiences.
Poken, a device activated by NFC technology, is set to transform
the trade show landscape in a myriad of ways. Imagine electronic
literature collection, social interaction, contact information, polling,
and lead qualifying…all in one device!
Back to Map
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Looking to take these trends to the
next level to enhance your trade
show and event programs in 2014?
2014 Event Trends
Give us a call: 312.787.4800
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