Are you preparing to attend any trade shows this year? Every year, trade show organizers and exhibitors brainstorm ways to make the event stand out to draw in more wholesale distributors, retail buyers, and industry influencers. What can you expect at this year’s events? Here are some of the top trade show trends of 2017:

Virtual/Augmented Reality

Technology will be incorporated into trade show booths now more than ever before. Although exhibitors already use digital signage and tablets within their booths, more exhibitors will begin to use virtual or augmented reality to grab attendees’ attention. Augmented reality is much easier to implement, so more exhibitors may choose this over virtual reality when designing their booths.

Digital Ordering

Exhibitors can encourage wholesale distributors and retail buyers to complete an order form within their trade show booth by using digital ordering technology at the event. Brands can allocate a small part of the booth to ordering, and feature their products in a digital catalog where attendees can select the items they want and receive an email order confirmation with just a few swipes of the screen. This will make it more important for exhibitors to hire experienced and knowledgeable salespeople to run their booths and gently push attendees to complete an order right then and there.

Departure From Traditional Booths

Trade show attendees want to be excited, and traditional exhibitor booths are simply not enough to evoke this emotional response. Instead, exhibitors will begin experimenting with non-traditional booth setups in 2017. The format will probably be much more relaxed than what trade show attendees are used to seeing. For example, exhibitors with larger booths can create a comfortable lounge area for their guests so attendees can sit down and relax while they get to know the brand.

Powerful Data

Exhibitors will rely heavily on data to analyze the success of trade shows in 2017. Using metrics such as unit sales, total sales per representative, and customer acquisition cost, brands will begin to take a hard look at the number of trade shows they’re attending and the amount spent on each to determine if their investment is paying off.

One metric that many exhibitors will start paying attention to in 2017 is social media engagement. Even though higher social media engagement does not always indicate higher sales, this metric will still be important to brands who are hoping to create buzz around their products by attending trade shows.

Smaller Events

As the audience becomes more informed, they are expecting more and more from the exhibitors at trade shows. Distributors, retail buyers and industry influencers no longer want to attend a trade show where they will be given basic information they can easily find online or in trade magazines. Instead, they want exhibits tailored to their level of expertise. This change may lead to smaller events targeted at a narrower audience of highly informed customers.

What trends do you think will take the trade show world by storm this year? Share your predictions in the comments below!