New year, new impulses: Dr. Marc Schumacher, co-CEO of Avantgarde
and expert on the Experience Economy, provides tips for the
development and design of trade fair stands that are worth the
An industry in on/off mode: The pandemic has also taken its toll on
the trade fair sector. Swinging back and forth between the classic
indoor stand and the completely virtual presence, many companies have
lost optimism since 2020: In a survey conducted by IG Messewesen, 48
percent of the trade fair exhibitors surveyed said they were planning
fewer trade fair appearances for 2022 / 2023; just under 58 percent
also want to reduce their trade fair budget for this period. Shifting
trade show activities entirely to the Internet? So far, only 10
percent consider that to be a real alternative.
However, shrinking budgets mean that the expectations for the
return on investment (ROI) of a trade show presence are much higher.
So how should the 2022 trade show booth be designed to generate as
much attention and sales leads as possible, as well as getting people
excited about a product? Here are my 10 principles for success:
1. Objective: What is the message?
The temptation is great to present the entire product range in
square meters available. But less is more – especially when budgets
are tight. Ideally, a trade show booth should be limited to one theme
and then give it a true stage. The message of the stand must clearly
and precisely formulate the unique selling proposition of the company
or product and convey it so unambiguously that visitors can understand
it even when they just pass by.
2. Experience: Experience instead of product display
Around 80 percent of the perceived stimuli reach the human brain
via the optic nerve. That’s why trade shows offer one thing above all:
visual stimulus overload. The human short-term memory mercilessly
sorts out and disposes of what does not appear significant at first
glance. It is therefore especially important not only to present
something visually appealing to the visitor, but also to make him part
of the experience – more of an experience, less of a presentation.
Immersive booth concepts not only appeal to the senses of trade show
visitors, but also trigger emotions. And these resonate much longer
than images do.
3. Sensory technology: A booth for all senses
What really touches us? That which appeals to as many of our senses
as possible and not just to our already overstrained eyes (see above).
Therefore, design your stand accordingly “sensually” and check which
sensory paths can be used to communicate the message. Don’t leave the
music selection to just any playlist and the snack selection to the
standard caterer, but create a sensory all-round experience in which
the brand message can ideally also be felt, heard, smelled and
4. Adventure: Festival feeling instead of Trade Fair chillness
Why does Hanover’s CEBIT no longer exist, but other tech events
like South-by-Southwest (SXSW) or the Computer Electronic Show (CES)
continue to attract thousands of visitors? Because these exhibitions
rely less on the goods-per-square-meter success quotient and more on
the product-plus-party formula. What applies to the big trade shows
can also make the individual trade show booth a magnet for attraction
– everyone likes to be inspired by a casual festival atmosphere.
5. Surprise: Create added value for the visitor.
Anyone who goes to a fashion trade show expects fashion. But the
stands that stick out from the crowd are those that think beyond
what’s expected. Integrate other industries or enter into unusual
stand cooperations, for example with tech companies or representatives
of other creative sectors such as music or art. Wherever filter
bubbles are purposefully popped and comfort zones are expanded, space
is created for innovative thinking and inspiring conversations – and
thus the added value for people who continue to visit real trade
6. Proximity: From trade fair to life
Berlin Fashion Week and the IFA in Munich have shown the way: An
exhibition does not necessarily end at the exits of the exhibition
halls. Extend your stand with on-site locations – in public spaces,
clubs, parks or pop-up stores. Linked together by clever storytelling,
the individual touchpoints complement each other to create a coherent
overall picture that leaves more of an impression than a brief brand
contact at the booth.
7. Expansion: Extending the booth digitally
Purely virtual trade shows in Corona times have drastically
increased the development and acceptance of new digital possibilities
among exhibitors and visitors alike. In hybrid trade show booths lie
countless possibilities for digitally expanding the booth, which is
limited in real life to a certain square footage, through immersive
media: virtual reality transports guests into another world: via VR
glasses, interested parties can accompany fabric production or visit
the virtual showroom, for example. With augmented reality, mobile
devices such as smartphones and tablets can be used to set a sewing
machine in motion at the booth, or insert a top model in a selfie. The
modern trade show booth should always be a technical playground as
8. Gamification: We just want to play
Speaking of gamification; use gamification in your booth to attract
visitors and win customers. Digital opportunities have given the
classic raffle a new appeal. Smartly designed tools and challenges
based on your product or the company’s central message awaken the
playful child slumbering in everyone, open up new communication
channels and – through active engagement with the brand – a high level
of customer engagement.
9. Reach: Thinking about digital extension
Presence at the trade show is no longer enough: apps, games, and
Instagram-ready photo options not only increase customer engagement on
site, but also open up exciting ways to stay in touch with prospective
clients beyond the trade show and spread the brand message to the
target group via social media. Livestreams of trade show events can be
converted into video-on-demand content that prospects can access even
after the show closes.
10. Sustainability: long-term is better than short-term
Less extensive trade show budgets require being thrifty. A virtue
can be made out of necessity, if reusable materials are used in the
design of the trade fair stand, which are not only kind on the budget
in the long term, but are also visible evidence of sustainability and
conscious use of resources. Alternatively, recycled materials can be
used, such as flooring made from marine plastics. Either way,
communicate sustainability in action. If this also makes your stand a
topic of conversation, all the better.