14 Trade Show Trends Predicted to Last until 2033

14 Trade Show Trends Predicted to Last until 2033

GALA takes another look into the crystal ball: Here are the latest trade show trends expected to stick around into the future. Helping you invest in a trade show booth that pays off today, tomorrow and long into the future.

#1 In-person trade shows are (once again) growing in popularity

If we’ve learned anything from the post-pandemic era, it’s that physical trade shows aren’t going anywhere! In fact, quite the opposite. The more digital every aspect of our lives has become, the more people are looking to have personal encounters.

GALA recommends preparing for a full schedule. It’s better to kick off with planning your trade show booth too early than too late.

#2 Trade shows of the future will be even more niche

The age of colossal trade shows is over. Large halls are barely able to fill to capacity nowadays. In response, smaller, well-connected locations are becoming increasingly popular venues.

Now, events aim to address a single audience with a more targeted approach. Instead of a general tourism trade show, several shows for campers, minibreaks and everything else travel have popped up.

According to GALA, these niche events give you the opportunity to address your target audience with more precision. A great opportunity if you know your audience well!

#3 Trade show trend: Smaller booths

Opting for smaller event halls means less space for each booth. Compact areas of 30 square meters or less are often rented out as a result, and even large booths rarely extend beyond 150 square meters.

Tip from GALA: Carefully weigh up exactly which aspects your booth really needs, ideally using data from previous trade shows.

#4 Budgets are skyrocketing

Companies are investing ever-growing amounts in their trade show appearances. According to a study conducted by DHBW, the “percentage of the total communication budget of companies allocated to trade shows” stood at 48 percent before the pandemic. A record amount. This could continue to increase in 2023 and onwards.

GALA recommends being willing to part with more money to stand out from the competition. As always, it’s better to focus all your effort on seizing one opportunity to the best of your ability instead of half-heartedly appearing at several trade shows.

#5 Trade shows of the future will be virtually enhanced

During the pandemic, it almost seemed that there would only ever be digital trade show booths presented at online events. However, this is yet to come to pass.

Instead, accompanying online programs have been introduced to enhance in-person events. This combination offers a number of advantages:

  • You can reach out to more people. Particularly those who are no longer prepared to travel long distances.
  • Engage customers by referring physical visitors to more information online.
  • Your booth will stand out. Combine the digital and physical world for a multidimensional experience.

GALAs ideas for new hybrid trade show formats: 

  1. Offer VR or AR experiences: If your booth is advertising trainee vacancies for welders, why not let visitors put on a VR headset to give it a go themselves?
  2. Get staff from your office involved by having them offer extra advice via a screen during peak times.
  3. Attract interested visitors with a QR code to gain access to a special offer that is only valid for trade show guests.

#6 More personal and interactive trade show booths

Lots of people prefer to first discover a booth for themselves instead of talking to one of your employees right away. Give them the opportunity! Tablets allow visitors to learn more independently and then approach you personally if they’re interest.

However, interactions don’t always need to be digital. The priority here is giving everyone their own unique, tailored experience, which is different for every visitor.

GALA dreams of a world in which creativity knows no bounds. Perhaps a booth with a fitting room to try on the latest trends then and there? Or a 10-minute workshop for visitors to create their own personal perfume to take home?

#7 Companies are collecting data

Achieve more sales with your budget at every day of the show by relying on digital help. Smart companies analyze their booths. Use sensors to track how long visitors stay at each point. Do they stick around for a long personal consultation, or barely show any interest in the photo gallery? If so, get rid of the gallery in favor of more consultation.

GALA believes that keeping an eye on data is key to optimizing your strategy, particularly in the long term. Investing in data pays off!

#8 Trends show sustainability is on the rise in trade show construction

Focusing on sustainability as a brand is no longer just a plus point; it’s a necessity! Make sure your booth is designed as sustainably as possible with the use of recycled materials or modules, for example. Certain companies now also hire trade show booths instead of buying them.

However, GALA urges you to remember that there is a fine line between being sustainable and greenwashing. Keep your communications transparent and true instead of praising (minimal) efforts to the skies.

#9 Booths are becoming more exclusive

Closed booths are popping up at a growing number of trade shows. They are either physically closed, so can’t be accessed from outside, or require registration to enter.

What may initially sound a little counterproductive can be a good choice for certain companies: 

  1. Secretive booths can awaken the curiosity of passersby.
  2. Those who are granted access feel like exclusive members of the brand world. A surefire way to win customers!
  3. Closed booths also offer space for personal, private consultations.
The trade show booth of the future – like the one here designed by GALA for Piëch – provides space for personal consultations of exclusive groups of guests

GALA believes a closed-booth concept is worth considering by companies looking to achieve a reputation as a luxury, elite brand.

#10 Stands are utilizing vertical space

Ever realized that you’re likely only using a small part of your allotted trade show space? While most booths are only two to four meters tall, the high ceilings of industrial halls often offer ten times this amount of vertical space.

Resourceful companies have started to dip into this potential by labeling, illuminating or exhibiting art at full height to attract visitors’ attention from far and wide.

GALA thinks it’s worth contemplating the benefits to a vertical trade show booth. Pay for 30 square meters but use five times as much over five floors!

#11 Giveaways need that special something

Pens with company logos don’t cut it any more when it comes to staying in the minds of guests. Giveaways need a certain je ne sais quoi. Needless to say, this means they’ll be more expensive and sophisticated. Be sure to calculate them into the budget!

A digital trend: personalized high-tech gifts like video cards. They look just like thick postcards, but play a short film – ideally recorded at the trade show.

GALA is keeping an eye on the trend. Giveaways in exchange for data are a relatively new idea. These include discount codes that can only be obtained by providing an email address and signing up to the newsletter.

#12 Visits will be better organized

Modern people want to get the most out of every minute. The same applies to trade show visits. With this in mind, visitors tend to plan their routes with pinpoint accuracy: starting at booth A at 11:15am on the stage, then move on to booth B.

GALA suggests developing an eye-catching program. The program (or online file) must include an interesting title, brief description and any important events instead of just covering the basics with minimal enthusiasm.

#13 Promotions becoming more popular

As visits are better planned (#12), your company needs a program to attract visitors. This could involve events at your booth like small discussion rounds or stage shows, etc. Or it could include other promotions to inspire visitors to come to your booth: Raffles, donations for each booth and competitions. The sky is the limit.

GALA is a champion of this approach. Promotions not only increase the attention your booth receives but also the amount of interactions and, as a result, customer acquisition.

#14 Booths represent the brand identity

Customers are starting to care increasingly more about the vision, purpose and values of a company. They want to be able to identify with a company.

Your trade show booth should give customers the ability to identify with you brand by diving into your brand world. It shouldn’t just convey information but evoke emotions and tell a story. Just like the Piëch booth at the Geneva International Motor Show, designed by GALA, which offered a time-out from distraction.

According to GALA, branding in your booth design goes beyond just posters featuring your logo. Our interior designers specialize in transforming the core of what your brand represents into a physical space. From look to functionality, scent to light and acoustics. No stone is left unturned.

How can you tap into the latest trade show trends?

Sure, learning about the ins and outs of trade show trends is interesting. But the most important aspects of trade show design will remain the same in 2023 and beyond: a booth that communicates your story and sells your products. That’s where GALA can help.