3 Trends in Tradeshows That Will Impact Your Association


If you are an association staff member tasked with managing your group’s tradeshow, you know how hard it is to keep the event fresh. Attendee expectations are constantly changing, and the logistics become more complex each year.

Here are three current trends to be aware of that will impact your association’s tradeshow:

1. Emphasis on Attendee Experience

The best way to keep exhibitors happy is to keep their potential customers happy. Some groups have successfully implemented a “VIP upgrade” that allows attendees to have a special check-in area, access to a lounge with Wi-Fi and Snacks, and extra tradeshow hours. These small touches can make a big difference to an attendee.

2. Incentives for Visiting Tradeshow Booths

Many tradeshows offer incentives for visiting exhibitors, such as passport contests, app scavenger hunts and other interactive ways to get attendees to booths in order to win a prize. However, some groups are flipping this model and using it for a charitable activity that engages the attendees. For example, attendees could receive a backpack at check-in; each booth holds a school supply. Once attendees have visited every booth, they can turn in a full backpack that can then be donated to a school in need. Think of charitable activities that meet your mission and how you can bring them to life on the tradeshow floor.

3. Contracting

With continued consolidation in the hotel industry, it continues to be a seller’s market when it comes to contracting meeting space. For-profits are booking further out now than they did during the recession, meaning associations have increased competition. It’s more important than ever to know the full value of your meeting when negotiating meeting space. Knowing your attendees, their ancillary spend (bars, restaurants, room service, extra nights, upgrades, etc.) and their buying habits will give you a leg up in the negotiation process.

What other trends are you seeing that are affecting your tradeshows?