How will you improve your trade show and exhibit marketing program in 2019? We sat down with Jeff Bartle, our chief creative officer, and Nicole Genarella, our executive v.p. sales and marketing—and came up with ten hot trends for 2019:


1. More movement. Everyone knows that motion is one of the best ways to draw attention on the trade show floor. And thanks to digital technology products like LED tiles and screens, it's never been easier to incorporate motion into a trade show booth. Expect to see LED graphics and messaging integrated EVERYWHERE—from the backwalls of modest-sized exhibits to entire structures. You'll see LED displays on walls, embedded into floors, on ceilings, headers, along the edges of walls—and in configurations of virtually every shape and size imaginable. And you can maximize cost efficiency by leveraging existing graphics and video assets in your LED displays.


2. Brighter lights. We've already seen a tremendous increase in the number of exhibits that leverage strings of LED lights and other lighting products to add linear lighting accents to their exhibits. Highlighting counter edges, walls, floor lines, and other elements with this tactic draws attention and adds visual interest. The lighting also warms up the space and gives it an overall more polished ambiance.


3. Bold color. Pantone's color predictions for early 2019 include red-reds, saturated oranges, royal blues, regal purples, and darkest navy. We expect to see these colors woven into exhibit environments and balanced with neutral tones including buffs, off-whites and quiet grays.

4. Data storytelling. Over the next two years, data storytelling, a trend that started in healthcare exhibiting, will become the norm in all industries. This means integrating case studies and/or stories that include research and/or measured results into your interactives, drill-downs, static case studies, presentations and videos. This provides prospective clients with the information they need to understand how your product will benefit their business.

5. Vinyl flooring. Thanks to rolled vinyl flooring, there is finally a way to quickly and labor-efficiently cover the floor of your exhibit in something other than carpet. Custom vinyl flooring finish options include a variety of woods, concrete, pebbles—and even grass and dirt. Or, order a custom treatment to integrate your logo or match a color and texture associated with your brand.


6. Custom everything. Thanks to digital printing, you'll see custom graphics, textures and logo-treatments used as wall coverings, murals, textures, fabric surfaces, and carpet or vinyl flooring, 

7. Sculptural elements. We're just seeing the start of exhibit designers pushing fabric and aluminum systems to their maximum potential. And 3D printing is quickly coming down in cost. With these two approaches, nearly any shape will be possible to achieve with exhibit architecture—including compound angles and complex curves. In the short term to see more unusually angled walls and kiosks, and more twisting curves. In the long term, look to see more highly sculptural elements on the show floor.


8. Make planning a team activity. Our 3D Exhibits clients are investing more heavily in the planning stage of their trade show programs. This means that before moving on to execution, they're taking the time to accurately pinpoint where they are and where they want to go. And they're making this into a team exercise—because in many instances, team consensus is what stands in the way between the trade show marketing program that exists and the program the exhibit manager knows could exist. We expect the number of these workshops we conduct for clients to continue to grow every year for the foreseeable future.

9. Measure. The number of 3D Exhibits clients asking for audits and exit surveys doubled in 2018—and we expect it to double again in 2019. Exhibit audits and exit surveys are an excellent way to benchmark your starting point—and quantify improvement over time. An excellent example of how one of our clients uses her data was featured recently in EXHIBITOR Magazine.

10. Dream. What's better than a trend that's already been identified? An emerging trend that you are among the first to adopt. Or a design or marketing tactic that's so uniquely appropriate to your company that it doesn't matter if anyone else does ever adopts it or not. When we work with our clients, this is what we really strive to achieve.

What new approaches are on your agenda for 2019?