In this age of digital dazzle, the use of technology at trade shows has become ubiquitous. From exhibitions and conventions to outdoor installations and events, businesses are leveraging technology to add high-tech glamour to their exhibits.

In 2017, we expect more exhibit designs to include lounge-like atmospheres fitted with digital tools – both familiar and new technologies – to command attention and engage attendees on the trade show floor. These digital lounges can create an electric, ‘come-hither’ appearance and an alluring environment that can generate buzz at any show and attract traffic.

[bctt tweet=”Here are the top 5 technology trends for trade show exhibits in 2017.” username=”absolutexhibits”]

1. A Digital Oasis for Recharging

Let’s face it – trade shows are exhausting! People get tired, thirsty and hungry on the exhibit floor. They need a place where they can rest and recharge themselves and their mobile devices.

Digital lounges combine the age-old appeal of hospitality with the mobile, always plugged-in world of 2017. Double-deck displays may even provide several accommodating areas for taking a break.

You can be an exhausted attendee’s hero and gain an opportunity to win their business with a digital lounge that provides comfortable lounge chairs and café tables or kiosks with built-in chargers. Recharging stations should include, at a minimum, AC power outlets, USB ports, micro-USB (Android) and Lighting connectors (Apple).

This means attendees don’t have to run back to their hotel rooms to recharge or go on a treasure hunt for an available outlet, which may well be in your competitor’s booth!

phone charging lounge

Photo Courtesy of Veloxity One LLC.

While Booth Visitors are Recharging …

      • Entice Them with Food: Simple beverages and snacks are great ice breakers to engage them in conversation about your company and offerings.
      • #GetSocial: As visitors relax and check their email and social media, they may post about your booth and company if you ask them. Decorate booth walls or put up signs with hashtags (ex: #booth101oasis) and calls-to-action (“Sit, sip, recharge @ booth 101”) that visitors can include in their own messages.
      • Keep Them Busy: Place large interactive touch screen displays near resting areas for visitors and passerbys to learn about your company. Small touch screen kiosks can offer more individualized, private interaction.

2. Bright, Attractive Signage

Exhibitors are competing for one thing: attention. Unfortunately, the average person has an attention span shorter than a goldfish, according to a study by Microsoft; and while the study is primarily focused on digital devices, there’s no doubt that technology has rewired our brains. Exhibits should be identifiable from a distance and entice attendees to walk in.

Over the years, we’ve seen more exhibitors replace traditional large printed signage with flashy digital signage, such as large-scale video walls and Internet-connected displays on LCD monitors.

jcm global, booth, global gaming expo, g2e

JCM Global at Global Gaming Expo (G2E). Custom exhibit by Absolute Exhibits.

We expect bright, attractive digital signage to be increasingly more present at trade shows and events, especially as the technology becomes more affordable.

video wall, polaroid, photokina 2016

Polaroid at Photokina 2016. Exhibit built by Absolute Exhibits.

3. Push Notifications with an Augmented Reality Hook

An increasing number of trade shows now have their own mobile apps, such as the SEMA Show and CES, and some allow exhibitors to communicate in real-time with attendees through push notifications. Push notifications are messages you can send to attendees’ mobile devices to communicate and invite visitors to your booth.

Similarly, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are increasing in popularity as companies can share information and demonstrate products in a more interactive and engaging manner.

According to IoT Daily, over the next four years, global shipments of VR headsets will increase by six times, from 10 million to 61 million, and AR headsets will increase by 150 times, from 100,000 to 1.5 million!

We expect to see more companies use AR, VR and push notification technologies individually, as well as in tandem to lure crowds.


Push notification alerts should be tailored to attendees’ interests and offer a valuable call-to-action requesting a response.

For example, let’s say your company produces tech equipment for restaurants and attends hospitality trade shows, and your goal is to attract hotel marketing professionals to your booth.

Using push notifications, you could target that segmented group with an alert inviting marketing professionals and C-suite officers to visit your booth for an augmented reality presentation and a chance to win an AR headset.

An augmented reality presentation could immerse viewers in a realistic, 3D introduction to your company. Once at the booth, you can ask attendees to sign up or provide a business card to participate.

4. Games and Contests

Some organizations have promoted their products and services at trade shows via elaborate digital games and contests.

One great example is when Content Marketing World hosted a live game show based on Hollywood Squares at CMWorld. They ran a contest before the event for one lucky attendee to be a contestant in the game show. Participants earned entries by sharing the event on social media, subscribing to the Content Marketing World newsletter or completing other tasks.

By crowdsourcing attendees to market for them, Content Marketing World was able to generate a tremendous amount of pre-show buzz.

If you have games or contests designed for use at trade shows, follow CMW’s lead and take advantage of the natural human inclination to compete.

Make sure games or contests are interesting and offer attendees enough incentive to participate, but also make sure that whatever you do it is aligned with your company goals for the show.


Create a contest that encourages trade show attendees to visit your booth and post a selfie photo with your booth (as proof) along with a company-designated hashtag (ex. #AbsoluteExhibitsAtCES), on a specific social media channel of your choosing.

Use hashtag tracking software, such as Hashtagify or TweetReach, to monitor the hashtag on social media and select a winner every hour or so.

In general, people crave social acknowledgment and validation. Publicly recognize the winner(s) on social media and on LCD screens at the show .

If you’re utilizing push notifications at the show, you may send alerts to also announce the winner(s) and each new round of the contest.

5. Interactive Walls and Screens

Social media is all about interactivity as are touch screens, which are becoming second nature to people of all ages due to mobile devices. They’re popping up in public venues ranging from botanic gardens to restaurants where they give users the opportunity to control choices about what they want to learn or order for dinner.


Touch screens and interactive walls provide visitors with a fresh, new experience by putting them in the driver’s seat and allowing them to interact with your multimedia content on their terms. Visitors can explore your “story” and manipulate elements, such as enlarging or rotating images, playing videos and clicking on text and links.

People no longer want to be spectators – they want to be participants. Interactive multimedia displays will be a standard feature in all trade show booths sooner than later.

*BONUS* Timeless Human Touch

No doubt about it – digital transformation is big at trade shows these days. But don’t forget one aspect of marketing that never goes out of date – the human element.

A well-designed digital lounge can attract crowds but it’s knowledgeable, experienced booth staff that will keep them in your booth and develop meaningful relationships with potential customers.

The human element will always provide a vastly richer, more targeted experience for booth visitors than all the technology in the world.

What do you think of the Top 5 Tech Trends for Trade Show Displays in 2017? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below!