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
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.