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How will the exhibition of the future look?

by Stuart Wood

Abhishek Vanamali, CMO of Zensar Technologies, takes a look at some trends that will shape the future of the exhibition industry.

 

Covid-19 enforced exhibitions across the country to close their doors physically earlier this year. The impact has been phenomenal to the events industry, with UFI Global Exhibition Barometer estimating €158bn (USD$180bn) of total output and 1.9 million jobs have been affected in exhibition and tourism-related activities.

Countries are preparing the reopening of the business events industry, offering a glimmer of hope. From October 2020, the intention is to bring back audiences in stadia and to allow conferences and other business events to take place in the UK as long as it is done in a Covid-secure way and subject to the successful outcome of pilots.

It is rare that true innovation occurs in times of stability and in these uncertain times, reimagining the exhibition strategy can be challenging, but it can also be revitalising – allowing a more focused approach, improving on past techniques and even using the budget more sophisticatedly.

Let’s take a look at how the future exhibition could look…

 

Technology takes centre-stage

The last few decades have seen the increasing role of technology within exhibitions. But now, looking ahead, it is time for technology to play an even larger scope through live streaming, virtual design space walks, demos etc. The key element here will be experience-led innovation focused on creating seamless experiences.

Bring products and / or services to life by using AI enabled tours created like a movie using high-definition production values. Bringing in the VR elements will help in creating the ‘wow’ factor that can be enjoyed remotely as well as imprint a positive experience to the attendees. Not only that but it will help reach a more global audience, opening up new markets and leading to better ROI across all segments due to the intrinsic value.

It is now possible to build online engagement that will help create larger, more engaged communities of buyers and sellers.

 

Hyper personalisation

Typically, the floor set up at exhibitions is generic and very communal. Now with virtual events playing their part, it is possible to build in contextual messages, based on the interests of a specific visitor to the virtual arena. Designing such communication helps in building a better relationship resulting in a faster conversion in many cases, making it a successful initiative.

 

New form of experiential marketing

Innovative marketing techniques are here to stay and will continue to fuel imagination. Transition to novel ideas, coupled with exclusive experiences and opportunities is the future of marketing. The same is true of the future exhibition where we will see all this come together in a way that will help businesses forge connections beyond just the exhibit.

 

Smarter events yield smarter insights

With physical events, it can be a challenge to get reliable data on traffic, interested buyers etc. With a digital route, it is possible to get insights that are based on facts and analytics. These analytics will help in getting the pulse of the attendee, their engagement quotient as well as what interested them and what could have worked better.

 

Multiple showcase options

With the virtual option, exhibitors can bring in creative ways to engage their audience. Having the ability to build either a show floor concept to a green room or a podium set up with graphics display in the background. The overall layout can be made to be an experience in itself at the click of a button. Customised displays are now possible giving visitors to see it in a manner they desire.

Anything is now possible with the ability to keep changing the same which is not cost-effective in the context of physical displays. Here, key note speeches, key product demos etc. can be managed more effectively. Also, there can be repeats etc. ensuring that no one misses the key aspects of the exhibition.

 

Covid-19 has been a real opportunity for the exhibition industry to drill down and finally have the opportunity to get to grips with the various technology available to them allowing events of the future to deliver better ROI and provide more in-depth analysis for the stakeholders.

Virtual exhibitions will most certainly not be the answer to everything but they will most definitely allow us to see things differently and more maturely. The future will very much by a hybrid reality whereby the virtual event suddenly supports the physical – and that is a very exciting turn.

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