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Trade Show Trends for 2017: Our Experts Weigh in With Their Predictions

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What show organizers should set their sights on next year

The stage is set for 2017 to be a big year for trade shows as the event space continues to change rapidly. We sat down with a few of our industry experts for their take on what’s on the horizon for next year, from global regulations to education, show format to hot new tech. Here are a few predictions to get you excited for the next twelve months:

Jeff Chase, Vice President, Sustainability

As trade shows become less wasteful and more Earth-minded, clients will be interested in what their partners can offer when it comes to using sustainable practices in order to help them meet their sustainability goals, including more collaboration with convention centers and hotels.

Technology and design are finally in alignment, so be on the lookout for very cool booths made out of high-quality, Earth-friendly materials such as paper that can be recycled or repurposed. I predict that we will also see trendy structures such as LED-backlit smart fabric walls at many trade shows.

Susan Kwasniak, Strategy Director

Show formats are changing, too. More and more, event planners are choosing to replace charging areas and networking lounges with immersive hubs that feature activities, video content, interactivity, and more. This was originated by TED events but is gaining ground at events of all kinds.

Education in the exhibit hall is becoming just as much of a draw as the educational sessions, particularly in tech. Companies traditionally exhibiting large equipment, like computer racks and airplane engines, now have more digital-based products. This is leading exhibitors to have smaller digital demos, featuring the newest digital equipment that associations don’t show in their training sessions. 

And VR will begin to happen in a bigger way, too — it will become so much more than just a pair of goggles and one experience. Companies will start building a library of VR content for all channels, not just trade shows, giving them a large set of content that can be swapped in and out as needed.

Shipping large engines and equipment around the world is cost prohibitive. Instead, companies will choose to 3D-print copies of the equipment in a city near the event. 3D printers are now able to print moving parts, making 3D-printed items actually show the functionality of the machines.

Julie Krueger, Business Development Director, International   

Industry events are becoming smaller, and education is being further customized to the level of expertise of the different audience groups. C-level audiences want to remain at C level and not get mixed up with starters in the industry, which are increasing due to new markets and companies becoming more globally engaged.

From a global perspective, the coming challenge I see is aligning privacy regulations and services from country to country, which can vary greatly. 

And the number of trend talks in the industry is constantly increasing — it’s more and more important to be prepared for the future!

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