CES kicked off 2022 by delivering the in-person experience audiences have missed the last two years. Attendees hit the floor to interact, learn and experience what’s new. Evident amid the metaverse exhibits and roving robots was an emphasis on health and wellness, sustainable practices and immersive experiences. How did these overarching themes translate to exhibits and activations? Here are three exhibit trends that will reshape booths this year and beyond:
Personal and interactive UX and visuals that pop
Nothing converts a passing prospect into a customer/brand ambassador quite like an immersive experience. It’s often associated solely with virtual reality, but you can also provide immersive moments with personalization and eye-catching visuals.
Attendees have always enjoyed customizable activations but, after the last two years, they’re even more eager to get in the driving seat. Hyundai Mobis made it easy for attendees to jump inside its version of the metaverse by taking self-driving cars for a virtual spin (sans headsets) and exploring how cars of the future might change our lives. Exhibitors also grabbed attention with unique lighting, dynamic LEDs, rotating screens, checkerboard monitors suspended from the ceiling and creative multimedia applications. TriNet, a human resources solutions provider, brought its “People Matter” theme to life with a moving and changing mosaic that displayed complementary (and real-time) professional head shots. Stunning black and white images instantly appeared on an enormous LED and emailed to visitors on the spot. It didn’t require a huge booth or extensive equipment to draw long lines. The best part? It provided something useful and sustainable that will be forever linked to TriNet.
Regardless of product or service, offering something customizable to booth visitors elevates the experience, especially at a time when people are craving autonomy. Produce activations that demonstrate how your product or service alleviates customers’ pain points while also letting them make choices along the way. A tailored experience (that also solves a problem) creates a valuable memory that lives on after the show.
Health and wellness
A focus on wellness and balance isn’t a novel concept for exhibitors but has taken on new meaning. Exhibiting now means creating impactful activations and demos in spaces that keep the attendees’ health and comfort top of mind.
Several booths featured individual touchless pods with interactive holograms and VR to immerse the viewer in products and services. Healthcare company Abbott used a single-space domed pod to highlight its new handheld sensor to detect concussions—the viewer was surrounded by a hologram of the brain to illustrate this new revolutionary tech. QR codes were everywhere. These touchless digital shortcuts took on new roles across booths and the conference. LG, Hyundai, and other brands used them extensively to take the place of brochures, product demos and live booth staff. These links let visitors explore and investigate on their own time and in their own safe space.
Even as people become more comfortable venturing out, the focus on safety and comfort will continue to be a guiding factor in the short and long term. Consider your footprint and ways to create elbow room. Touchless registration and lead retrieval are obvious, but explore other hands-off, look-don’t-touch engagement opportunities that showcase products and messages while also ensuring an uncomplicated experience that’s safe.
Green is keen—and clean
Eco-minded design was an ongoing theme for brand messaging, but also was manifested in design with the incorporation of green and natural hues and walls of decorative foliage. Literal and figurative green elements present a clean, healthy and pure atmosphere that gives peace of mind. SK, the South Korean tech giant, storified its green tech products and goal to reduce global carbon emissions with a multi-zoned “Green Forest Pavilion.” The large, constantly changing environment surrounded visitors with a vibrant projection that captured the realities of global warming and hoped-for forest recovery.
Exhibiting offers a blank canvas to showcase not only products but brand values. Elevate your space and applicable activations by incorporating eco-minded elements that convey environmental responsibility and dedication, however small, to better the world. CES provided not only a blueprint for in-person shows in today’s climate, but also confirmation of the value of face-to-face: People want to congregate, engage and learn at trade shows and events.
No matter where or how many times you exhibit this year, attendees are looking for your products and services. Even though our industry keeps adapting to change, attendees still want to participate in meaningful ways as they seek solutions. As long as you keep the visitor experience (and comfort) as your guiding strategy, your exhibit can accomplish your goals—with or without robots in the metaverse.
Guest Blogger: Mickey Wilson, Mickey Wilson is chief marketing officer, Freeman. https://adage.com/article/opinion/ces-2022-trends-will-reshape-exhibit-booths-year-ahead/2394676