NADA 2024 Trade Show & Exhibit Trends

The National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) 2023 Expo is just a few months away – January 26-29 in Dallas, TX. The upcoming show promises to be a spectacular display of the latest automotive innovations.
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Targeted toward franchised new vehicle dealers, NADA 2023 offers attendees the chance to see the hottest new automotive products and technologies. The show will feature keynote speeches from Dana Perino and Michael Strahan, networking opportunities throughout the event, franchise meetings with top automaker executives, and more than 100 educational programs and workshops hosted by industry experts.

However, the show floor is where the real action takes place. With more than 500 exhibitors (ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies) spread across 650,000 square feet of exhibit space, there is a lot to see and do. In fact, there may not be enough time to explore all of the featured new trends and technologies. Attendees are encouraged to download the NADA Show mobile app and create an itinerary before the show. With the app, it is also possible to schedule appointments to meet with vendors on the show floor.

Here are some exhibit trends attendees will experience as they tour the NADA 2023 show floor.

Experiential Exhibits

Experiential is the driving factor for many exhibits at NADA.

The term experiential activation tends to conjure thoughts of walking around towering candy sculptures, rooms of paintings that spring to life, and VR experiences where you’re blasted with wind and splashed with rain. While those are tremendously fun – and we’re big fans – that’s not what we’re referring to this time. When it comes to NADA, experiential means recreating real-life experiences on the show floor – in a big way.

So much of what goes on behind the scenes of an auto dealership requires hands-on knowledge of technology and machinery. So, the best way for attendees to understand new and innovative technologies is to bring the experience to them.

For example, the 2020 exhibit for a company specializing in alignment and inspection equipment featured a full-size replica of a service bay. Cars would drive into the bay – yes, actual cars – where an inspection took place. Attendees watched as the company’s equipment quickly checked alignment, graded the tread wear on the tires, and more. Seeing a working service bay on the show floor was an impressive sight that immediately grabbed the attention of attendees.

Conference rooms and lounges

As the NADA literature is fond of saying, “This is where real business gets done!

However, the NADA show floor may not be the ideal location for an intimate conversation. After all, there’s a very good chance your neighbor is continually running cars through a fully functioning service bay.

So, the solution for companies that plan to get some i’s dotted and t’s crossed is to create silence by building conference and meeting rooms into their exhibits. Not only does it become possible to hear someone speaking at an average volume, but it’s easy to keep important paperwork orderly and secure. Plus, by including locking doors, these areas shut tight to provide additional security overnight.

Lounge areas are another popular NADA exhibit feature. For companies that don’t need an enclosed space, lounges provide a comfortable space to speak with attendees away from the hustle and bustle. Also, when companies have meetings scheduled throughout the day, lounges are an ideal waiting area. Plus, comfy chairs with charging stations are the perfect honeypot to lure attendees to an exhibit.

Gamification elements

At NADA, exhibits with gamification elements help take attendee engagement to a whole new level. People like games. They like the feeling of achievement that comes with progressing to the next level, rescuing the princess, or polishing off some zombies. Games stimulate a person’s mind – literally. Playing games can cause dopamine levels in the brain to increase as much as 100 percent.

A fun gamification example is the virtual prize wheel featured at an auto financing company’s 2020 exhibit. While a prize wheel is nothing new, this display put a fun twist on the experience. To start, the company gave attendees a “Hot Wheels” car with an RFID sticker adhered to the back. Attendees then approached a massive 103-foot touchscreen and placed the toy in an adjacent pocket to activate the game. Players pressed a virtual gas pedal to “spin” a wheel loaded with options ranging from golf tees and tote bags to portable chargers and a Bose SoundLink.

Multisensory experiences

According to research published in the Journal of Psychology, people create a strong bond with brands when they engage more than one of the five senses. The practice is called “sensory branding.”

NADA 2023 provides exhibitors with an ideal opportunity to engage multiple senses. Sight is a given. So, many exhibits include touchscreen displays and hands-on demo experiences for touch, ambient noise (revving car engines, clanging tools, etc.) for hearing, and rely on natural scents (that new car smell, fresh car tires, etc.) for smell. (Taste may not happen, sorry.

For example, at the 2020 show, a software company transformed a completely virtual activity into a multisensory experience by physically representing a customer’s online auto shopping journey. The interactive story occurred throughout a series of LED tunnels where visitors met various personas of potential online shoppers. Visitors engaged with the shoppers by selecting prompts on an interactive touchscreen, which triggered a verbal response

These tunnels engaged three of the visitors’ senses. While in the tunnels, they watched the shopper videos and were bathed in blue light, listened to the shopper’s stories and responses, and interacted with the touchscreens.

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As you can see, brands tend to go big at NADA, and the 2023 show will continue this trend. For more information about NADA 2023 – or other upcoming trade shows – click here for our trade show search.

The Trade Group’s custom trade show displays will ensure your brand makes a big impression on the show floor. To discover what we can do for your next event – whether NADA 2023, automotive, or any industry –contact us here or give The Trade Group a call at 972-734-8585.

Austin Montgomery is a Senior Account Executive who has been working with The Trade Group since 2005. With over 17 years of experience collaborating with clients in exhibit design and personally managing their projects from start to finish, he prides himself on unparalleled customer service and expertise in event-based marketing.

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