While there is no such thing as “trade show season,” at Exhibitpro, we consider March about as close as it gets. From HiMSS to CAMEX to Exhibitor Live and National Council, our team made its way from coast-to-coast throughout March, partnering with clients at their top shows – while also taking part in some of our industry’s biggest events.

We’ve marched to many different venues, for many different industries, in many different locations. Across them all we’ve observed what we believe are some interesting and relevant trends. Below, we’ve recapped what we’ve seen and provided our opinion on those we believe to be the most relevant for clients to consider when planning their next custom trade show experience.

1. A Warm Welcome. Over the past few years, exhibitors have embraced the idea of clean, white exhibits filled with white laminate, white carpeting, and white LED lights. And while there is no doubt that the European ideal of “all white everything” will always have its place on the show floor, we are excited to report on an evolution in booth design that offers a warm, friendly alternative for exhibitors who want to more prominently display their brand personality.

When it comes to booth design, we witnessed warmer colors, textured finishings and more effective usage of lighting to bring brand stories to life on the show floor. These somewhat edgier spaces used bold branding – colors, imagery and storytelling – to increase stopping power and stand out from competition. Additionally, complementary textural finishings – stone, wood and metal – were paired with strategic light placements to deliver a warm, welcoming space.

A great example of embracing this newer trend is Exhibitpro client, Adidas, who recently displayed their new custom rental application at CAMEX 2016. The exhibit utilized color-blocked sections, large oversized imagery, subtle metal textures, and harder edges to help the brand tell its story and make a big splash on the show floor.

We believe this is a trend our clients should keep in mind whether designing an entirely new space or making adjustments to an existing structure. It’s important to know what’s happening across show floors, so that together with your exhibit design company, you can determine what’s best for your objectives. And, if you are specifically interested in dialing up your brand presence on the show floor – thanks to the wide assortment of available materials, colors, and advancements in lighting technology – this trend is definitely for you!

2. The Light Bulb Moment. When LED lighting was first introduced, the trade show industry embraced the bright-white lighting as a way to draw attention to the booth. Over the last five years, however, we’ve seen rapid advancements in LED technology that have opened the door to using lighting in new, creative ways to deliver significant impact on exhibit design and visitor engagement.

These advancements have created virtually endless options for using strategically placed lighting to modify the exhibit experience. When planned as part of the overall booth strategy, LED lighting can be an effective, cost efficient solution for driving visitors to the exhibit and amplifying their experience. From selecting shades designed to warm the space, to adding branded colors that draw attention to key features, and even using lighting to guide visitors throughout the space, LEDs have become a pivotal part of booth design that can add significant value to the engagement.

A great example of embracing this trend is Exhibitpro client, Netsmart, who recently displayed their new custom trade show exhibit at the National Council for Behavioral Health. As part of the exhibit design, green LED lighting was used to create a warmer, inviting space that drew attention to specific focal areas and linked together likeminded elements. The strategic placement of the right LED lighting helped create a welcoming, engaging space that stood out on the show floor and left a lasting impression on booth visitors.

Thanks to advancements in lighting technology, the right placement of LEDs can now be one of the best – and least expensive – ways to impact the exhibit experience. As a result, it’s a relatively easy addition to booth design that we recommend our clients consider. However, to realize the biggest impact with lighting, we strongly recommend that clients consider the strategic addition of LED lighting when developing their total booth strategy.

3. Technology with Purpose. When it comes to personal technology, we all want the latest device, gadget or application that is going to make our lives easier or more fun. When it comes to trade shows, that desire is no different. Exhibitors want the edge on competition; and, many times that means believing the shiniest new screen or interactive new app is the key to becoming the booth everyone is buzzing about. But, what good are flashy screens or techy apps if they’re not used with purpose?

2016 is off to a great start! From show to show, we witnessed many examples of exhibitors who embraced the importance of “technology with purpose” as a way to drive traffic and increase engagement at-show. From interactive activities (e.g. games) to real-time reporting theaters to advanced touchscreen presentations, we saw more and more interactive technology used in purposeful ways to drive traffic, engage visitors, and even build relationships post-show.

We hope it’s just the beginning of big things to come and think this is an important trend for Exhibitpro clients to watch. And while technology is certainly not necessary for a positive exhibit experience, we do believe that when integrated purposefully, it can add value. As technology continues to evolve, so to do the opportunities for exhibitors to embrace it as a tool to connect and engage with trade show visitors – on the floor and long after the show doors close. But remember: before you buy, ask yourself why!

Need help evaluating your existing space to determine how and where to incorporate these trends? Want to learn more about how color, lighting or technology could improve your exhibit experience? LET’S TALK! Exhibitpro has 25 years experience solving challenges and delivering successful experiences for clients across the custom exhibit design industry.

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