Nigel Jones, sales director at Red Blizzard, looks at some of the latest trends in exhibition stand design.
Setting goals, measuring success and understanding the target audience are becoming increasingly important for exhibitors.
Whether they’re looking for lead generation, launching a product, reconnecting with clients or raising brand awareness, a key element is the stand design.
It’s important to remember that you can no longer differentiate between trade and consumer shows – every visitor ultimately is a consumer in today’s marketplace and we have to make it worth their while to attend.
This is where engagement plays a major role.
Technology is being incorporated into exhibition stands now in ways that we have never seen before. Interactive apps tailored to shows, facial recognition hardware, robots, 3D printing and mixed reality, where by pointing your phone at a product on the stand it becomes an immersive experience, to name but a few. These are fantastic ways for exhibitors to engage their audience and become the talking point of the show.
No doubt though the biggest change in the last few years has been the growth in social media – this really has become a game changer. Social media sites are easy to set up, inexpensive to run and when used properly can have an immediate impact on an exhibitor’s business. They can be used throughout the year to let their followers know what shows they will be attending, up to the hall and stand number. They can even provide updates regarding the stand design itself.
During the show, live feeds are a fantastic way of involving people who could not make the event and also an excellent way of attracting new customers and a buzz at the show. Social media is also a great tool for organisers to get immediate content out there before, during and after the show. We are seeing more and more companies setting up social media departments to utilise its power and this is something that will become the norm in the years to come.
Finishes and colour are also playing a far more prominent role in shows today – gone are the days when 80 per cent of the stands at an event were blue and white! A lot of companies are now prepared to introduce bright tones, a variety of finishes from natural, wood, stone, concrete or even grass to bring an element of fun or a more sophisticated look and feel. Digital fabric print also now allows us to produce large scale graphics with a seamless finish.
LED lighting and tiles have also had an amazing impact on the exhibition industry – we can now offer more subtle lighting effects and dramatically reduced the cost of light boxes, down-lighting and rigging plus LED tiles allow for huge video walls at a fraction of the cost. Also gone are the days of exhibitors standing under very hot halogen lights all day slowly melting away! Furniture is very design-led; Eames chairs are very on-trend this season and can bring a touch of class to any stand, but there are also a lot of designer pieces now available for hire which is refreshing.
It is important for exhibitors to understand what they are looking to achieve from the stand before they choose their seating. If meetings are likely to be short, they shouldn’t make the seating too comfortable – it is easier to get somebody onto a stand than off again!
The main objective is getting the balance right and the stand to work for exhibitors and their brands. As always, avoid style over substance.