What do fabric, organic materials and kinetic lighting have in common? These are just three of a whopping 21 trade show trends TTG’s VP of Sales Malcom Gilvar recently discussed at a lunch and learn at our Dallas headquarters. ICYMI, we’ve compiled some highlights below, as well as a link to the presentation in its entirety.
Gilvar and Chris Stone, President and CEO of The Trade Group, are always on the lookout for the latest trends and innovations in trade show design, corporate events and retail merchandising. Every year, the two travel to a variety of shows, with one of the most influential events being EuroShop. Held once every three years in Düsseldorf, Germany, EuroShop is a huge event spanning 18 halls.
We spot the trade show trends, so you don’t have to
Many of the trends Gilvar mentions in his presentation were inspired by ideas he and Stone captured while attending the EuroShop shows. According to Gilvar, “Everyone at EuroShop is focused on great design and outdoing one another. We always come home and review what we’ve seen and look for ways to bring those trends back to our customers as quickly as possible.”
Typically, most of the trends first seen at EuroShop end up hitting the U.S. three to four years later. In fact, TTG’s METALLI® line of modular trade show displays was inspired by a visit to EuroShop and was the first of its kind when it launched in 2005.
Trade show and event marketers can also keep an eye out for trends that will give their trade show displays and face-to-face experiences the edge.
“Most of the trends we see are in the realm of design. Some trends to look for include different textures, shapes, materials and lighting. Technology is also evolving incredibly fast and new options for interactive displays, A/V and even financing are worth checking out,” Gilvar says.
TTG’s Jumbo List of 21 Trade Show Trends for 2017-18
No. 1: Fabric
Gilvar and Stone initially saw fabric applications make a big splash at EuroShop 2011. Today, TTG designs an abundance of displays comprised primarily of fabric – from walls to murals to signage to light boxes and more.
Fabric offers many benefits including beauty, flexibility and cost savings. As Gilvar explains, “We’ve definitely seen variations in fabric since 2011. There is no limit when it comes to shape, size and colors. Fabric provides a seamless, smooth look and color saturation is no longer an issue.”
TTG embraced the fabric trend thoroughly and has invested heavily in fabric printing and finishing technology to meet customer demand for fabric displays and graphics.
No. 2: Organic materials
In 2014, a variety of earthy, organic materials were featured at EuroShop. Some of the materials making their way into trade show design include: Wood, paper, rope, faux concrete and others.
“We just completed a homey-feeling exhibit for Google Nest where wood accents are featured prominently. The warm tones and natural textures of wood fit the theme perfectly,” Gilvar says.
No. 3: LED lighting
While it started out pretty low-tech in 2011, LED lighting technology is a key component in many exhibits today. Some of the original LED applications may look a little dated, but advances in technology and how LED lighting is used continue to evolve as an emerging trend.
According to Gilvar, “LED lighting has really come a long way – from 10 mm in 2011 to 3 mm today, which is truly high-def. Today, LEDs are used to create digital walls, floors and even entire exhibits. Projection mapping allows you to use LEDs to project what appear as 3-D images, logos and text onto any surface, creating a truly stunning effect.”
No. 4: Audio/Visual (A/V)
“At TTG, we really believe that A/V is going to rule the world one day, though it hasn’t evolved as quickly as we expected. In the near future, you’ll see entire exhibits constructed totally out of A/V, because costs continue to plummet and technology is advancing rapidly,” Gilvar says.
Gilvar is also excited about A/V because it allows exhibitors – even in a booth as small as a 10’x10’ – to tell a much more expansive story than static graphics. In the near future, look for cost-effective, thinner A/V units that easily roll directly onto exhibit structures.
No. 5: Digital Display Blocks
TTG recently launched this new product line which is comprised of mini, high-definition, modular, 12”x16” blocks that connect together in an endless number of configurations.
As Gilvar explains, “Each block is its own high-def screen, and we can program the screens to produce just about any image you can imagine. You can connect multiple blocks together to create a large screen of any size or stagger the blocks in a design you choose. Digital Display Blocks deliver extraordinary image quality in a compact, affordable package.”
No. 6: Kinetic lighting
Featured prominently at EuroShop 2017, kinetic lighting is best described as individual LED lights that act like pixels. Each LED is connected to a motor connected to a truss system at the top of the exhibit. The system allows the lights to move and transform into different shapes and words. “While kinetic lighting systems are quite expensive today, costs should come down dramatically in the next four to five years,” says Gilvar.
No. 7: Branded flooring
While Gilvar and Stone didn’t find this trend in Europe, it’s become a popular trend in the U.S., and TTG has embraced it. Custom printed flooring allows exhibitors to utilize every inch of their booth space for branding.
Thanks to TTG’s VUTEk grand format printer, the production team can print on any material up to two inches thick – including flooring. Says Gilvar, “We use a really durable, rollable textured flooring that offers one more great way to accent and brand a booth space. Branded flooring is also convenient, because it installs, ships and rolls up easily, just like carpet.”
No. 8: RFID (radio frequency identification) technology
RFID technology is a trend that will continue to grow, because it benefits both event attendees and exhibitors. RFID wristbands can be used to trigger custom content and experiences and exhibitors can analyze attendee data tied to the wristbands to fine tune marketing programs down the road.
Check out our case study on the League of Legends Riftwalk experience to find out how we used RFID wristband technology to create stitched videos that attendees loved sharing on social media.
No. 9: NFC (near frequency communications) technology
You can embed an NFC chip in virtually anything today – including trade show giveaways. The chips launch content on an NFC enabled device like a smartphone or tablet. “When you put the chip next to the device, your branded content automatically launches. This is a trend we expect to see more frequently moving forward,” says Gilvar.
No. 10: Green screens
If you want prospects to interact with your brand, green screens offer an affordable solution with legs. Guests can insert themselves into a fun, branded scene that they can take away as a printed photograph and share digitally on social media.
No. 11: Event app experiences
“We’ve seen more event apps with Snapchat-like features that allow guests to take fun selfies with branded filters. These are also highly shareable on social media,” Gilvar says.
No. 12: Portable photo booths
A new product available from TTG, the portable photo booth packs down into a backpack and sets up in minutes. A variety of custom, branded filters are created in advance and printed and shareable digital photos and GIF options are available.
No. 13: Interactive digital displays
Since arriving on the scene at EuroShop in 2014, interactive displays have become very popular at U.S. trade shows today. As Gilvar explains, “Attendees want to interact with your message. Plus, retention of information improves dramatically when associated with a dynamic presentation that offers a two-way communication.”
No. 14: Gamification
Guests love playing games, so why not gather data about them while they’re having fun? Games improve client engagement and retention while providing exhibitors with actionable data they can use following an event.
No. 15: Object recognition tables
Chips can be embedded in a marker or product, then when you run the object over the inverted or horizontally placed screen, information about the product appears. “These table continue to be a great option for small products, because they allow brands to tell their product’s story in a fun and interactive way,” Gilvar says.
No. 16: Sliding monitors
This is another trend TTG has seen growing in popularity. The guest slides the monitor in front a product or display and are directed to click a button that plays a message or launches a video about what he or she sees. According to Gilvar, “We have used sliding monitors to bring products to life at trade shows and in customer resource centers and lobbies for companies that want to share their history.”
No. 17: Clear LED display boxes
Interactive in nature, these display boxes are similar to a shadow box. An actual product or miniature can be placed inside, while digital content plays on the clear LED screen. Both interactive LED touchscreens and static screens with looping video are available.
No. 18: Paperless, digital content
Today, fewer marketers give away brochures at trade shows, while more rely on digital delivery tools instead. “Dozens of products, like TTG’s VivoLead, are available in the market now. The software captures leads and relevant data, then allows booth staff to instantly send digital content through a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Delivering content digitally is much more cost effective than paper brochures, and the programs are priced very well,” says Gilvar.
No. 19: Multi-year contract financing
Another new trend many trade show marketers are embracing is finding ways to lower the cost of exhibiting while maintaining flexibility. One example is multi-year contracts, which can be designed to lower the cost of an exhibit purchase or rental.
As Gilvar explains, “If you need to rent or purchase an exhibit and are having trouble meeting a certain price point, signing a multi-year contract is one way you may be able to get your costs down. By committing to multiple years, the exhibit house may be able to justify the lower cost, because they’ll be able to keep the exhibit in inventory and move it for several years in a row.”
No. 20: Exhibit leasing programs
Leasing is another financing trend that allows exhibitors to spread costs over multiple years. “Leasing was popular about 15 years ago and faded away. But it’s a really a great way to buy an exhibit over the period of time you choose, while keeping your costs steady and predictable. There may also be some tax advantages with leasing,” says Gilvar.
No. 21: Rent-to-own financing
While you will end up paying more over a period of time if you rent rather than purchasing an exhibit up front, renting to own can offer some tax advantages. When you rent-to-own, you may be able to expense the entire purchase as opposed to making a capital expenditure. Plus, when you rent an exhibit, there are no storage costs, and you can change the look of exhibit from year to year.
Want to take advantage of the latest trends for your 2018 trade show program?
Contact us. Our trade show and live event experts are available to answer your design, interactive, technology, A/V and finance questions. Just give us a call at 800-343-2005 to learn more.
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