Earlier this month I attended the annual trade show for the trade show industry, EXHIBITOR2014 in Las Vegas. Along with completing the final exam for the CTSM (Certified Trade Show Marketer) program, I hit the show floor to find out what was new and exciting in the world of trade shows.
By far the two biggest trends I saw were LED backlit displays and pillowcase fabric portable displays. Nearly all display manufacturers had one if not both of these types of displays.
The exploding popularity of backlit displays can be attributed to a couple of factors. First, LEDs continue to become more and more affordable and can easily be incorporated into the structures being used. They provide a bright clean light that illuminates graphics well. Another factor is the exceptional print quality on fabric being produced today. Backlighting was initially achieved using more expansive structures, dimmer fluorescent lighting and harder to manage duratrans panels. Now impactful backlighting can be achieved in the more lightweight and portable combination of aluminum extrusion and fabric.
The pillowcase displays have been around for years, but seem to be overtaking the place of the “old faithful” pop-up panel displays in the smaller booth spaces (10′ x 10′ and 10′ x 20′). The traditional pop-ups provided a large mural for the backwall with portability and simple assembly. Again with the advances in print quality of fabric and easy to assemble frames, the pillowcase displays can offer as much, or more, visual appeal in a smaller, lighter package.
Another smaller trend that I found, that could be the way of the future, is the incorporation of magnetic accessories. I saw magnetic literature holders for banner stands, as well as magnetic shelves and peg board for a new pillowcase display option. This may be the way of the future when it comes to accessorizing previously difficult to accessorize displays.
iPad incorporation was once an up and coming trend, but now it has become commonplace.Virtually all booths were using iPads in some form or fashion. Catalogs, lead retrieval, video demos and social interaction were all featured on the devices and most of the manufacturers had rolled out stands/kiosks for them as well.
A couple of upgrades that can become differentiators for a space that I saw were specialty flooring options and more appealing furniture. Often times exhibitors get stuck ordering basic carpet and furniture options from the show, but there are options that are so much better out there! Believe it or not, they may be more cost effective as well. As an attendee walking through, would these brown leather seats catch your eye more than a standard black plastic chair? How about walking the aisle and seeing a space with this raised flooring tile with custom printing beneath the surface versus the show standard black or gray carpet? I like to encourage my clients to try these subtle difference makers and grab additional leads by doing so.
It is always great to see what is new and trending in the industry, and the EXHIBITOR show is an excellent way to do so. Feel free to contact me if you want more information on what I saw, or maybe even if you want to attend the show in the future.