Tradeshow Marketing

Top 6 Trade Show Trends That Are Ruling in 2022

How should exhibitors plan their exhibits this year? Here's a brief overview of trade show trends ruling in 2022. Keep reading to make the most of every opportunity.

The trade show industry is an ideal example of the transformation we witnessed in the last couple of years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But just as the industry exemplifies the overnight decline brought about by the pandemic in 2020, it has also been evidence of global recovery in 2022.

While a few past trade show trends have continued their dominance in 2022, many are brand new and only surfaced during the pandemic. With the exhibition industry finally back on track, exhibitors must consider the top trends when reworking their event strategies.

With that in mind, here are the top 6 trade show trends that seem to be working for exhibitors in 2022. 

1- Physical Trade Shows are BACK with a Bang

According to the CEO of 6Connex, a leading virtual event hosting platform, their business grew by over 1000% during the pandemic. 

This is the same time when physical events, including trade shows, took a big hit. Almost all the big trade shows like the CES, CONEXPO, and Infocomm were cancelled amidst the pandemic. 

However, with the restrictions easing out this year, these physical trade shows are back with a bang. 

While virtual events continue to do well, many exhibitors and attendees still prefer physical events when it comes to trade shows.

What Should Exhibitors Do?

Exhibitors must understand that virtual events were more of a makeshift solution for businesses during the pandemic. The most significant USP of physical trade shows is face-to-face interactions with current and prospective customers.

Not to forget that an in-person experience is also a preferred choice among the attendees. According to a study involving 1,000 conference participants, 72% preferred offline events.

Trade show organizers should prefer in-person events over virtual events as they offer significant benefits. 

A hybrid event that adds a virtual element to a physical trade show can also be a worthy consideration. Moreover, virtual events can be used as teasers for big physical events. 

2- Skyrocketing Trade Show Expenses

The US consumer prices increased by 9.1% in the 12 months ending in June 2022, which is the highest in the last four decades. The situation is more or less similar in most other parts of the world.

Rising inflation has directly impacted all the costs related to organizing a trade show exhibition, including booth rental, booth design, and shipping. But, more importantly, as businesses are working towards recovering from the pandemic, marketing budgets have declined for most.

Physical exhibitions are already one of the most expensive marketing initiatives. Combined with rising inflation and reduced marketing spending, it has become more challenging for exhibitors to generate positive ROI.

[READ: How to Measure Trade Show ROI and ROO?]

What Should Exhibitors Do?

Companies should go back to the basics to re-evaluate their event strategies. From choosing the right trade show to selecting the best booth engagement activity, several aspects deserve your attention.

Exhibitors should also consider prioritizing the elements critical to their trade show success. For instance, renting a booth might be better than purchasing one. The funds can be reallocated to an engagement activity like custom trade show trivia as it can help them with their event objectives.

Focus more on quality over quantity and make smarter choices to get the maximum benefit from your investment.

[READ:7 Tips to Reduce Your Trade Show Expenses]

3- Offering an Experiential Environment to Booth Visitors

Another growing trade show booth trend is creating an experiential environment to drive traffic. While face-to-face interaction helps physical events stand apart from their virtual alternative, the sensory overload at some exhibitions is a little too much.

With every booth competing for attention with colorful displays, loud noises, and whatnot, you cannot blame the attendees for feeling jaded after a point. And what good are the booth visitors if they’re not genuinely interested in your offerings?

A rising number of exhibitors are going beyond traditional marketing tactics to build an environment that can transport visitors to a custom immersive environment. They’re redefining exhibitions by making them more entertaining and ditching the traditional approach of using such events to only show off products and services.

What Should Exhibitors Do?

Exhibitors can use various technologies to boost audience engagement at trade shows. For instance, adding a customized booth game to help the brand with their objectives is an innovative and fun way to offer something unique to the attendees.

Unique demo stations, giveaways, and AR/VR-based activities are other options to build an environment of your own on the busy trade show floor.

And building an environment doesn’t always have to be about using modern technologies. It could also be something as simple as having a sitting area at the booth where you distribute refreshments and have deeper conversations with the visitors.  

4- See Sustainability in a New Light

Sustainability has been a buzzword in almost every industry for all the right reasons. It was only a matter of time before it became one of the leading trends in the trade show industry. And its impact is already evident.

For instance, there have been expos and conferences where booths were fully powered by alternate energy sources. Plastic bottles were nixed and replaced with water-filling stations.  

But amid growing inflation and rising material costs, most exhibitors don’t have the extra money to explore the concept to its full potential. And as COVID-19 is still a concern, the use of disposable masks and single-use food containers is rampant across events.

What Should Exhibitors Do?

Sustainability programs aren’t just an option anymore. The “reuse, recycle and repurpose” motto can still be practiced at trade shows without putting any additional burden on tight budgets. In fact, it can help reduce your expenses.

For instance, an older booth can be repurposed to better align with modern design trends rather than purchasing a new custom booth. There can be several booth designing companies that can help you in this regard.

Even if you're investing in a new exhibition stand, use recycled materials that are not hazardous to the environment and are budget-friendly as well. You can also reduce the promotional items you use to help the environment while saving some money. The booth staff can also be trained to make smarter and more sustainable choices during the event.

[READ: Trade Show Booth Staff Training Guide]

5- Growing Attendee Expectations

Most experts agree that consumer behavior has significantly changed after the pandemic. The same can be said about the trade show industry as well. Specifically, they'd expect unique but relatable experiences from the exhibitors.

While the post-pandemic audience is craving physical experiences, it should not come at the cost of disconnecting them from things they’ve become so used to in the last two years.

What Should Exhibitors Do?

Exhibitors should look for ways to keep up with the growing expectations while offering something people could easily connect with. 

For instance, the use of digital technologies increased significantly during the pandemic. People relied on various digital technologies and devices when they were locked indoors, be it meetings, ordering groceries, entertainment, or staying connected with friends and families.

Brands can replicate the trend and offer something relatable to the event attendees. For instance-

  • They can integrate social media into their trade show marketing strategy
  • A customized photo booth where visitors can click pictures can also help create a buzz during the event
  • Consider installing LED displays for product demonstration videos and promotion on the trade show floor
  • Compared to an actual spinwheel, a virtual spinwheel can be a better choice
  • Activities such as digital trade show trivia that attendees can play through iPads and smartphones should also help drive traffic to the booth

[READ: Top 10 Trade Show Games and Actvities]

6- Cutting Through the Omnichannel Marketing Noise

While omnichannel marketing is not one of the new trade show trends for 2022, it sure found a new meaning during the pandemic. With offline channels unavailable, brands moved to an upgraded version of highly efficient, hyper-focused omnichannel marketing.

Channels like paid ads, social media, emails, radio, and videos were extensively used by businesses to target audiences. Through 2022 and beyond, marketers are expected to add offline methods like direct mail, print, and OOH (Out-Of-Home), in their omnichannel strategies to provide a dedicated and consistent experience to the audience.

The growing number of online and offline channels has made it challenging for event managers to select ones that’ll provide them with maximum results. 

What Should Exhibitors Do?

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Rather than exploring every new marketing channel, focus majorly on things that are sure to bring you the right results. Within those channels, try to offer the audience a more targeted and consistent experience.

While it is good to try something new, it doesn't make sense to reallocate all the funds from something functional to something experimental, especially when budgets are tight. 

And if this is your first event, try to learn more about the channels that are already a big hit among your target customers and create a marketing strategy to target them on those channels.

However, do set aside a small budget for experimentation. This allows you to experiment and do something unique without straying off course. 

Preparing for Trade Shows in 2022 and Beyond

Every new year presents itself with new challenges, opportunities, and trends. But 2022 is unique as we're still recovering from an unprecedented crisis on a global scale.

So, note these trade show trends to rework your strategy and ensure that it better aligns with the current conditions.

If you’re looking for ways to engage people at your booth, check out our latest work to know how our custom trade show trivia can attract, engage, and delight your booth visitors.  

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