The staggering growth of technology in the trade show industry can be attributed to two main needs: gathering data on visitors to justify the cost of show participation; and a desire to provide an experience that strengthens attendee connections with the brand. Just as with any other exhibit element, so long as a given tactic aligns with or fulfills an organization’s event goal, and isn’t just for the “cool” factor, the investment will meet or exceed return. Three trends we are seeing in trade show technology include:
Wearables: While beacons can passively track traffic through mobile data, they don’t effectively add anything to the attendee experience. New wearable tech, like Proxfinity’s smart badge that attaches to a lanyard, not only provides in-depth data, but also amps up the engagement factor. Encouraging attendees to connect with one another through shared interests, lights on the badge illuminate when matched categories are in range. The badges don’t require Wi-Fi, mobile service or RFID, keeping execution expenses low. In addition, it’s possible to see real-time traffic data, heat maps and dwell time to pinpoint successful areas and make improvements where the data indicates lack of engagement.
Personalized engagement: Many events are shifting focus to a more personalized experience. From mobile apps that can tap into your preferences, suggesting exhibits you may want to visit on the show floor, to targeted presentations aligned to your specific challenges, to automatic matching software to help you connect with like-minded colleagues, events are taking advantage of developments in AI and machine learning to offer each attendee a uniquely valuable experience. An example of this is a show floor kiosk that recognizes the attendee via RFID or badge reader, welcomes them, and either helps them find a show floor location (with individualized directions) or an engagement, through voice assistance.
VR modeling: Star Trek’s holodeck has finally come to trade shows, in the form of VR-enabled equipment demonstrations. Large equipment manufacturing companies can now bring full-sized demos to smaller shows and allow attendees to see them in action. For example, a company that makes CNC machines can convert their product into a VR experience, with attendees able to see how the equipment is installed in any number of different lines or manufacturing environments. Attendees can put on the glasses, and inside an empty booth space, walk around the machine, open its different systems, and touch the controls. With just a few keystrokes, staffers can select the attendee’s particular application and production parts, allowing for a close-to-actual evaluation.
These are just a few of the technology trends the trade show industry is experiencing this year. As technology becomes more sophisticated and impactful, expect to see more technologies become commonplace in the trade show experience.