Look at what takes up the bulk of the news cycle, and you’ll see the issues that will affect the world of conferences and trade shows. Popular culture trends roll up and recede as fast as yesterday’s news, but some appear to have legs and should be taken under consideration when planning a live event.

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What to Expect

Depending on your business, at least one of these five trends is likely to be critically important. This summary is deliberately at a high level, but it should be easy to see how these trends might apply to a specific industry or company.

1 – Diversity 

Companies are accelerating integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies into their business practices, and the trade show industry is trying to catch up. Trade Show Executive’s DEI task force is identifying content areas that will help leaders achieve their diversity goals, initiate conversations about the promise and value of diversity, and widen the circle of industry experts of diverse backgrounds.

2 – Multifunction and Multipurpose Use

Booths are indispensable for trade show exhibitors, and the key word is “adaptable.” The idea for 2022 is to create modular booths that can built out in various configurations to accommodate the allocated floor space. Modules can include the welcome and sign-in stand, digital screen supports, signage, and partitions. Smaller budgets can choose the options right for them and add on at a later time.

3 Mindfulness and Well-Being

During the COVID era, people were conditioned to be mindful about their health and wellbeing. And even as the impact of government regulations to try to control the virus—and the virus itself—has waned, many people remain cautious. Planners or managers of these events might want to think about the whole “self-care” trend and how to use it.

4 – Personalization and Customization

You can customize tchotchkes for the conference swag bag. Everybody does that. If you want to stand out, though, personalize the experience. One way to do that is by creating a mobile-optimized conference so participants can customize their conference experience, set alerts for events of interest, connect with social media, and request post-conference updates and mark-your-calendar messages for next year’s event.

5 – Sustainability

Skift Meetings, a global meetings and events publisher, cites Cape Wine Expo 2018 in South Africa as an ideal example of emphasizing the value of sustainability at a trade show. Organizers used recycled cardboard to pre-manufacture the booth walls, which could be re-used after the event or recycled.

Bonus tip: Highlight your company’s green efforts into your event display.

Just over the horizon

Augmented reality is here and ready to be integrated into the live event experience. The technology that projects digital visuals and audio into the physical environment could be game changer. Early adopters in retailing already are using it in catalog apps that allow shoppers to project a product image on to a screen of where it would be used.