How the World of Trade Show Displays Has Changed Over the Years

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Nothing ever stays the same. Change is the only constant in the world we live in, and that includes seemingly unchangeable things like visual impact productions. Set in a very traditional environment where booths are square and visitors can cherry-pick offers, the psychology behind trade shows has not really changed much. The way displays are organized, however, has evolved immensely in the last.

They say those who cannot remember their past are inevitably condemned to repeat it. This is why we will look at the evolution of trade show display design. Who knows, you might be inspired to do something in between for your next exhibition?


The Past

The history behind the exhibition shows is very simple. The first one, The Great Exhibition held on May 1, 1851, set the standard for displays in a way that was pompous and attractive. There was no technology to help individual tradesmen stand out or offer a differentiated product, so they had to come up with other ways. This would include oversized props, celebrity appearances, and attractions. Of course, a great deal has changed since the early days of trade shows, but one thing has remained the same — trade shows are the best, most convertible face-to-face marketing event you can attend as a business owner/manager.


The Present

Fast forward to today, and one thing is crystal clear — the ever-expanding world of technology has brought about drastic changes to the way we showcase products and interact with various audiences. The evolution of trade show displays goes beyond putting up flat screens and using tablets, it also spans to the production process of the booths themselves (materials, designs, colors, size, you name it). Gone are the days when photography and film could only be printed up to a certain size and have awkwardly small pictures covering a much greater area. Now, it literally takes seconds to download digital images and have 6-foot tall banners to stop visitors in their tracks.

The movement toward minimalism in design using not bright colors but extravagance in shapes and clear lines has gradually taken over many trade shows, especially in technologically advanced industries. In a nutshell, the presence is a mixture of the past where “show” took over “trade” and a hint to the future where Virtual Reality and other technologies will (possibly) completely transform visitor experiences.



The Future

Despite the predominantly online environment in which we do business today, we cannot escape the simple trait that unites us all — we are human, and all humans are social creatures. We need face-to-face interaction, especially for industries with a higher initial investment to enter the market, as well as strategic partnerships where the levels of trust cannot be established from a flat screen. The future of exhibition displays promises a lot less clutter and a lot more VR-inspired experiences. Social media streaming and online interactions will probably be as strong as they are becoming in the current day.

No matter where the trade shows are headed, one thing is for sure — businesses and clients will always need a physical place to meet and interact. As long as those two exist, trade shows will thrive.

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