TVs and Selfie Stations Aren’t Enough—Today’s Event Attendees Have Bigger Tech Expectations

February 21, 2023

Bob Marsh

Bob Marsh is the chief revenue officer at Bluewater, a design-forward technology company that helps craft moments that connect and inspire.

The pandemic brought every business that relied on in-person meetings, from multinational corporations to small local businesses, to a grinding halt—effectively emptying convention centers and shuttering hotels. Though many events were canceled, some organizers created virtual events to keep in touch with exhibitors and retailers, albeit digitally.  

Today, life and business are slowly finding relative normalcy. Trade shows are back, and in-person events are on track to gain massive amounts of attendance. Although many people are excited to interact in public spaces with others again, it is important to note that the last two years have created shifts in how consumers engage with marketing efforts, advertisements and the general sales process as it relates to trade show events. 

How Have Consumer Expectations About In-Person Events Shifted?

As consumers, our attention spans are shrinking. Popular research suggests that human attention spans shrunk to just eight seconds in a 15-year time span. In most cases, this leaves marketers with the daunting task of grabbing people’s attention while also engaging them in something that is interactive and educational. Combining interactivity, engagement and learning all into one environment is the bare minimum for meeting consumer expectations at in-person events for optimal success. 

Additionally, consumers have higher expectations regarding speed, ease of access and the use of technology to learn about new things or get answers to their questions. Too many times, companies set up their trade show booths with simple graphics, brochures and company representatives. Event attendees cruise right by with a friendly smile, and that’s about it. People need to be pulled in, and the use of technology and strong design is an excellent way to grab attention from consumers who have new expectations. 

A study by Gartner shows that 80% of B2B sales interactions will likely occur in digital channels by 2025. Buyers have no interest in going back to the old ways of talking with salespeople. Because many processes have transformed into remote, automated or otherwise digital, buyers want that same ease of access in real-world events as well. Many buyers expect information that is easy to digest and trustworthy guidance to help them make the right business decisions. This is where marketing efforts make the most impact. People want to feel important and valued, with a personalized sales process tailored to their specific needs. Brands can meet these demands by preparing their booths and presentations at trade shows with new consumer expectations in mind. 

Which New Technologies Will Satisfy Show Attendees With Higher Expectations?

Trade show booths with simple graphics, brochures and company representatives will no longer cut it. Organizations can easily add more creativity and technological prowess to their marketing approaches for optimal buyer interactions. Trade show professionals should use newer technology to make their booths even more exciting. Here are three newer technologies companies can incorporate to satisfy both in-person and hybrid event attendees with higher expectations: 

1. Interactive Touch Panels

Don’t underestimate the increasing trend of interactive touch displays when it comes to engaging consumers. Companies can use these forms of newer technology to boost client interactions and increase sales. Consumers want product tours and solution selections that happen through interactive experiences where consumers can identify issues they wish to address and get curated recommendations on what your company offers. 

2. Educational Games and Activities

Educational games and activities are easy ways to entertain consumers, share rewards and improve product education. Using LED screens and building immersive environments where people can “step into” your product or interact with it encourage retention and ultimately influence purchasing decisions. Adding a fun experience can draw people in while also helping them understand the value the product brings.

3. LED Walls and Floors

Instead of the regular brochures and sales representatives, companies can use LED walls and floor designs at events. Buyers are used to gathering information, reading reviews and watching videos. Brochures feel outdated, while LED floors and walls help consumers interact more closely with your product and learn about your brand. They also allow you to stand out from all the other booths by immersing buyers in a memorable experience.

Brands need to shift their attention to what they can do to make their trade show experiences more interactive. In doing so, they can draw more potential customers to their booths, initiate positive experiences that people associate with the brand and help people make informed judgments by tailoring the sales process to them.  

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Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact