The ever-changing nature of trade show technology makes it hard for exhibitors to know where to focus capital investments and training. In particular, the introduction and almost-immediate obsolescence of so many types of virtual reality hardware has been especially frustrating, making exhibitors reluctant to dip their toes into the waters of augmented reality.
To help you sort between passing fads and tomorrow’s go-to technology, we’ve put together this summary of exhibition industry tools that have already proven their “stickiness” — tools that have proven their exhibit merits by gaining wide adoption and distribution by exhibitors and suppliers.
JUMBO TABLETS AND SMART PHONES
Jumbo-sized tablets, smartphones and related displays have become increasingly popular in recent years. Capitalizing on the familiarity we all have with our personal and office-sized devices, these attention-grabbing jumbo displays offer a plug-and-play way to show visitors your apps, websites, or other content in native file formats. The displays allow exhibit attendees the freedom to view only the content they are interested in, thus increasing engagement and reducing booth clutter. More importantly, they give attendees more agency in their floor experience, rather than just being passive receivers of aggressive sales pitches. These jumbo phones and tablets are available for purchase or rental, with many options to “try before you buy.”
SMART WAYFINDING SOLUTIONS
Forget the old, static, “You Are Here” wayfinding stands. Today’s machine learning and wireless technologies have given birth to wayfinding solutions that provide interactive, real-time, navigation and scheduling information. These tools pinpoint desired locations, map travel routes across large areas, and provide up to the minute event times, room changes, and other timely information. While obviously ideal for convention centers, the technology is seeing cross-industry adoption as more and more businesses focus on in-house or partner expos. The technology is especially suited to helping people navigate unfamiliar office complexes, sporting facilities, shopping complexes, academic campuses, etc.—and typically offers seamless ways for users to synch directions with their mobile devices.
CHATBOTS FOR EVENTS
We’ve all seen chatbots used to engage website visitors. But now the technology is moving offline, providing a better way to engage with the trade show audience. In addition to answering the obvious time and location questions about the event program or exhibit hall, chatbots allow you to capture and objectively analyze the questions and difficulties encountered by event attendees. This feedback will be useful in making future changes to the way you deliver your information to customers and prospects—from your website to your trade show booth. Segmented notifications can be scheduled to reach specific meeting attendees based on the data they input when initially using the chatbot.
Effectively serving as personal personalized concierge services, offline chatbots have been shown to be especially helpful to businesses in the hospitality, e-commerce, insurance, health, and retail sectors. Most chatbots can be integrated with your event and registration system platform or your office CRM, providing additional lead qualification assistance. Up to 80% of businesses plan to be using some form of online or offline chatbot by the end of 2020.
VIDEO AND SOCIAL MEDIA WALLS
The seamless images on video walls have proven to be both eye-catching and traffic-generating in comparison to small-screen displays. And while social platforms continue to emerge and evolve, the use of an aggregate, onsite social media wall appears to be a trend with staying power. Whether you use them to show who’s using your hashtags, to display trade show videos and photos, to present testimonials or to provide an insider’s view of your company’s corporate culture, social media walls are 100% customizable for your needs.
For the trade show attendee, seeing their own posts amplified on your wall can give them a feeling of inclusion and validation. Numerous apps such as Taggbox allow you to curate the specific wall features that are most relevant to your company, active social channels, and attendee needs.
Technological hardware will come and go. But the underlying data technologies of augmented reality, machine learning and user-generated media are here to stay. By focusing on how your target customers use tech and on the data you need to consistently reach and nurture your leads, you can make certain your trade show technology investments will be relevant for years to come.
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