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The Evolution of the Exhibition Industry

20th Apr 2020

The exhibition industry has been around for the longest time and for the most part had seen little change - from trade shows, public gatherings, larger scale events for product launches or announcements - the form in how presentation is presented is the same now as it was then, however in the past two decades with the introduction of modern technology, the tools that are used to present at exhibitions are very different.

Standing out has always been an important part of any larger exhibition - having either commercial or public attention and getting foot flow to your booth or location has remained an unchanged facet of how the spaces operate. Twenty years ago, print media led the way with how to do this - large signage, banners, and display stands would be your primary go-to advertising tool. Bold colours and simple design would be used to show off your brand, to explain what your business does without the need for deep explanation and to draw traffic to your exhibition stand and it remains the same today, businesses all over the world still rely on large scale leaflet and flyer printing as a form of advertising at exhibitions as the portability and reusability of the media is unchanging.

The big difference has been the evolution of technology, and the introduction of digital media into popular culture. Image and video that can be changed on the fly and that can be shown on digital display boards have increased visibility and increased the options available to those that work with the media - previously where exhibitions could be a small marquee with some print signage to indicate what the location is now many have screens dotted all around with flashing lights and sounds to draw the attention and then once you enter the marquee there may be tailor made media created to explain what it is that is on offer without words needing to be spoken. We’ve also seen the rise in streaming platforms for exhibitions as virtual tours and digital tickets become more commonplace and allow much more freedom on the entry of who can and cannot attend an event - but to also offer a unique experience for those viewing from home.

The transition from print to digitisation over the past two decades has been extremely fast and technology has developed - but modern exhibitions and trade shows have begun to find a balance between both, and an equal representation of older, more traditional methods now stand alongside newer and more radical technologies. It’s not uncommon to see a large exhibition stand or signage alongside a digital presentation for a new invention, for example, as both still hold their value. Branding and visibility, as it did then, still remains as one of the most important factors of representation and as our use of digital platforms such as social media has increased, the use of physical branding during these larger events show a more real side to a business, and a side that is still heavily relied upon in a digital age.

As it is in the past two decades, it’s unlikely going forward that exhibitions will see much change as our forms of advertising and expression remain unchanging - a physical presence and physical media will always be required for those attending these events as it provides an opportunity for attendees to interface with that company, and a digital media will find just as much of a requirement as a move to virtual events continues to grow, and the virtual presence for these companies continues to remain a mainstay within the industry.