The Most Hotly Anticipated Trade Show Trends of 2019 

The Trade Show is Returning to Centre Stage 

As far back as 2010, industry experts predicted that face-to-face marketing was on the decline. The exhibition industry was stagnating. And the consensus was that digital marketing and communications appeared set to take over.

However, it seems the tide is turning. More often, people are longing for the experiential value that comes with attending a big event. The security of shaking a hand over a deal. As such, the old sales adage seems to be more relevant today than ever before – people really do buy people.

“Although the business-to-business experience has changed, and expectations are higher, business people are keen to seek out a real experience with potential suppliers and partners.” – Simeon Wicks MD Tecna

With trade shows regaining recognition and flourishing as an industry, it’s important to get a leg up; to be prepared for your next expo. And to help, we’ve identified some of the biggest trade show trends set to hit the world of expos in 2019

We’ve Got the Statistics to Prove it 

Research conducted by the Centre for Exhibitions Industry Research (CEIR) in 2018 has shown the importance of trade shows. Especially within the world of B2B. Here are some of their killer statistics you’ll want to know.

Here are the Stats:

99% of exhibitors find unique value delivered by B2B trade shows that are not provided by other marketing channels.

90% of trade show attendees won’t have met face to face with any of the companies exhibiting at a trade show in the 12 months prior to the event.

46% of executive decision makers made purchase decisions while attending a show.

92% of trade show attendees come to see and learn about what’s new in products and services.

Over 50% of trade show visitors are attending for the first time. With new players emerging in the industry each year, a trade show is an ideal place to meet these people.

77% of executive decision makers found at least one new supplier at the last show they attended.

51% of trade show attendees requested that a sales representative visit their company after the show.

76% of executive decision makers asked for a price quotation at the last show they attended.

Why the Demand for Trade Shows? 

But what’s caused this trade show renaissance? What is it that keeps the human traffic flocking to exhibitions each year?

Both the noise generated by digital platform saturation and a decreasing trust in online peer-to-peer recommendations are contributing factors. Indeed, a lack of trust and a weariness of digital information mean people are looking for a different way to find out about a product or service.

There’s also the draw of experiencing brands on a human level. The allure of testing out offerings in unique environment unlike any other.

Whatever the factor, there’s no denying it: the industry is booming. And with over 265,000 exhibitors and 13 million visitors still attending trade shows every year in the UK alone, there’s no sign that it’ll be slowing down anytime soon

Moving into 2019, then, exhibitions should feature as a key channel in any business marketing strategy. Not least because of the potential that such a rich sales and marketing channel promises both in spreading brand awareness and sourcing valuable leads.

The Exciting Trade Show Trends to Expect 

In 2019:

It’s time to look at our forecast for 2019, where we identify four key trade show trends that we see influencing exhibitions next year. That way, you’ll be fully prepared before starting on your stand designs or scheduling any appearances.

Face-to-Face Marketing Cannot be Replaced by Digital

2019 will see businesses allocate more of their time and effort into face-to-face marketing. Prioritising meaningful, “human”, in-person interactions.

This trend has occurred in light of an emergent disillusionment with digital advertising. Plus, more businesses see it as an opportunity to fight for increasingly exclusive customer mindshare in a heavily saturated digital market space.

The Independent pointed out that customers are missing that “human touch”. So, exhibitors and booth designers need to consider this carefully when planning for next year.

Displays will need to be more customer-centric; they should be highly personalised and appeal to customers’ emotions so that you create an experience that leaves them feeling connected with you and emotionally invested in your brand.

Let’s Get Phygital 

Where technology is concerned, there is currently no bigger buzzword than “Phygital”.

What is Phygital? It’s a term that refers to blurring the lines between physical and digital marketing channels. Marrying them together to create a marketing ecosystem of sorts for a totally frictionless consumer journey.

Augmented Reality

There is one Phygital tool that has been sending ripples through the business world: augmented reality (AR). AR has piqued the interest of companies across the globe. And its lucrative potential will by no means cease to continue skyrocketing, with consumer AR predicted to reach $14 billion by 2021.

With its’ increasing popularity as a way to enhance the customer experience, we will see more exhibitors integrating AR and other immersive technologies into their trade show booths in 2019.

Indeed, exhibitors will take advantage of AR from within their booths to create expansive environments whilst only taking up a fraction of the space. Or, in other words, we’ll be seeing businesses using AR technology to superimpose digital versions of life-sized products over the physical expo space using AR compatible devices and apps.

Phygital marketing is disruptive. It’s immersive. It’s the future. So, watch out for it and be ready to create display designs that work around the new demand.

A Need for Creativity

In an interview for Marketing Week earlier this year, marketing guru Sir John Hegarty observed a notable dearth in creativity – and need thereof – within the marketing sphere.

“What we need is greater creativity”, says Hegarty, “and what we’re doing today is reducing the power of creativity. Marketing, I believe, is suffering because of that; you’re not getting imaginative ideas that capture people’s imagination.”

That’s where trade shows come into their own.  The expo sector is at the cutting edge of providing an immersive, creative and innovative environment. An environment in which digital and physical platforms work together in harmony.

If there were ever a way to capture the imagination, it would be at a trade show where attendees get the opportunity to network, experience the touch and feel factor, benefit from human interactions, and see brands come to life right before their very eyes.

Bigger, More Innovative Display Stands 

Having delivered a large number of stands across a wide cross-section of exhibitions this year, the Tecna UK team has noticed that creative modular builds are on the increase. Exhibitors are getting bigger with their display ideas. They’re getting bolder.

This creativity and innovation will carry through to 2019 and beyond. Based on the substantial volume of creative builds we have in the works for clients, we’re ready to see larger, more ambitious modular stands at expos across the country next year.

The push for bigger, better stands stems from fiercer competition from rival exhibitors. That, and the fact that visitors have come to expect a highly customer-centric experience when they visit a stand. Something immersive and unforgettable.

But just note: we wouldn’t say ‘go big or go home’. Bigger is not always necessarily better as clever, creative and intelligent integration of new digital offerings can give a stand a great deal of stand out and stickability. No matter  how small the exhibiting space.

It’s Good to Talk 

Creating a welcoming and communication-friendly stand is also becoming increasingly important. Exhibitors will continue to focus on high visual impact. But they will now similarly be looking to incorporate other aspects of stand design to maximise their show objectives.

Yes, getting more creative and focusing on visual impact will always feature heavily in stand designs. But encouraging meaningful discourse will be just as important for sourcing valuable leads.

Comfort is Key

We’ll be seeing exhibitors factor in comfortable, inviting seating areas into their exhibiting spaces; private meeting booths. There’ll be more interactive features at the ready to spark interest and stoke the fire of conversation.  All great ways to facilitate winning interactions.

Help People Charge Up

We also expect to see more USB ports on exhibition stands. Our team has already witnessed the growing presence of USB ports in expo venues, and this is poised to continue onward and upward in 2019.

USB ports are fantastic. They cater to the growing pool of digital-savvy visitors and they make for valuable touch points on any stand. Whilst visitors charge up on an exhibitor’s stand, the exhibitor gets a chance to strike up some interesting, engaging conversation.

Exciting Times Ahead for Trade Shows

If our exhibitions forecast for 2019 tells us anything, it’s that there are exciting things to come for both exhibitors and visitors next year; we can’t wait to see these industry advancements in action.


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