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Our Crystal Ball: The Future of Events for Exhibitors

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Which tactics and tech will be the driving forces for exhibitors in the next 12 months?

With today’s wealth of information, ideas, and technology, exhibitors have the tools to not just attract attendees, but also to truly engage them. So, what will tomorrow bring? And, what are the best ways to go about taking advantage of these new advancements?

We asked our Freeman exhibit booth experts for the inside view on what exhibitors can expect in the coming year. Be sure to read all the way to the end, where you'll be able to cast your vote for the exhibit booth trend most likely to take off next year! 

Personalization takes center stage

In 2018, personalization will kick into high gear across the event landscape. Here are a few examples of how:

  • Better exhibitor resources

Nesana Pineda, Corporate Director, Exhibitor Services

Exhibitors seeking more personalized service, rejoice! More customized tools and resources will be made available either by the show organizer or official services contractor. Easier, more personalized service means less focus on logistics and more emphasis on creating an engaging in-booth experience.

  • Personalization made easy

Katherine Zimoulis, VP, Content Marketing, Freeman

Exhibitors seeking to deliver more personalized booth experiences, also rejoice! Show organizers will increase their use of attendee tracking, and exhibitors will be able to tap into that tech more easily than ever. Perhaps for a fee, you may be able to deliver custom messages when attendees come near a booth, or gain access to better information about a target audience before, during, and after the event.

  • Giving attendees control

Katie O’Brien, VP, Group Creative, FreemanXP

Technology drives the world in real time, so exhibitors should be prepared to use it to enable attendees to determine their own priorities. For example, automatic registration by bracelet rather than badge allows attendees to walk right in. These same bracelets can become a “digital briefcase” that lets attendees tap in to get information on what interests them — including your booth! And matchmaking experiences allow attendees to pick whom they want to talk to, based on what they want to learn more about.

Show your inner workings

Transparency and authenticity will be of increased importance in 2018. Exhibitors can put attendees at ease by demonstrating an understanding of and adherence to new data regulations. They can also engage audiences with worthy causes that align to brand values.

  • Improving data security

Laura Tythcott, Client Solutions Director, Freeman EMEA; and Julie Krueger, International Business Development Director, Freeman AV

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into place in May, replacing the UK’s Data Protection Bill. GDPR provides focused regulations of how data is used, stored, and deleted. It is directly aimed at providing greater data protection for EU member-country residents no matter where they travel in the world, so these new regulations will impact event professionals globally.

  • Activating the audience

Jessica Glenn, Sustainability Manager, Freeman

Worthy causes are one of the best ways for exhibitors to pull attendees into the booth. A corporate social responsibility (CSR) activation can be a donation drive, or even interactive games in which the exhibitor donates money on behalf of each participant. It’s a great icebreaker that impresses attendees with the brand’s commitment to giving back. Who wouldn’t want to work with a company that does well while doing good?

  • The human element

Beth Martin, VP, Expo Marketing, Freeman

Don’t forget to show your brand or organization’s human side! You may tap into tech to bring people to your booth, but once you get them there, it’s the face-to-face engagement that matters (and delivers ROI). Invest in proper training for your booth staff and ensure they can accurately reflect your organization’s vision, mission, and purpose — as well as how it can benefit the person they are speaking to. The more human, the better!

Measurable outcomes

With so many available tools, exhibitors will want to ensure their choices will deliver the best ROI.

  • Purposeful technology

Adam Butman, Director, Business Development, Freeman AV; Cori Prasifka, Senior Strategist, FreemanXP; and Mike Bruley, SVP, Territory Leader, Freeman

Integrating technology that drives value and enhances audience engagement will be more important than ever. There will be a huge shift from chasing the shiny new tech to incorporating digital activations that align to the overall exhibit strategy. We will see more exhibitors getting creative with technology to improve the event experience, bottom-line financials, and overall flexibility of event planning. Audiences will be able to self-customize their journeys on-site, and exhibitors will be able to reach broader audiences before, during, and after the event.

  • Metrics that matter

Katherine Zimoulis, VP, Content Marketing, Freeman  

The need to prove the value of an exhibit or event participation has never been greater. To defend or expand the trade show budget, exhibitors must be prepared to deliver meaningful metrics. Look at things like the value of your target audience, audience attraction and engagement, cost performance, brand awareness or Net Promoter Net Promoter Score®, and performance against benchmarks and/or competitors — just to name a few. Thankfully, the rise and integration of digital throughout all aspects of an event’s lifecycle will make that easier and more effective than ever before.

By channeling the advances of today and tomorrow, exhibitors can reap benefits and build audiences that are eager to learn more, talk more, and keep coming back year after year.

Which of these predictions do you see taking off in 2018? Vote now!

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