Over the last decade, we’ve seen some amusing, awesome and awesomely terrible trade show trends come and go. And, as you might’ve guessed, we’re proud that our trade show marketing ideas firmly fell in the awesome category every time (we’re not at all biased, either). Regardless, we wanted to share with you the trends we’re happy the industry is leaving behind this year, along with some of the trade show trends for 2020 that are worth considering. 

Good riddance to….


Booth babes who know nothing about the product. 

We get it. Having attractive people at your booth seems like a win/win for everyone… until an attendee comes over to talk to said attractive person, and gets a blank stare in response. Yes, you want to draw people to your booth. But you’ve got to have a conversion plan once you get them there. If you insist on using “booth babes,” then they need to be able to speak about your product. But, better yet, stick to real people who already have that knowledge. 


Poor quality tchotchkes. 

“Man, I love this leaky pen I got from a vendor six years ago!” Of course, that phrase doesn’t get uttered because no one really feels that way. Yet for years and years, people have continued to buy, brand, and give away stuff that’s either useless, cheap or a dreadful combination of both. All to appear… generous? Bad tchotchkes won’t paint your company in a good light, and won’t keep you top of mind. We’ve been ready to move on from this trend ever since we first tried spelling the word “tchotchkes.” 


Too much technology. 

A race to keep up has become a race to the bottom, with good marketers everywhere turning to ill-fitting tech just to get eyeballs. Your trade show visitors deserve more. Don’t get us wrong – we love technology. Passionately. But far too many trade show booth design companies are adopting tech they don’t need for reasons they don’t have just because they think everyone else is doing it. 

A perfect example of this is virtual reality (VR). It’s new(ish), trendy and has some cool applications, sure. But, it does most of the companies who use it a major disservice. It’s not super sanitary, for one, and it’s very limiting. It’s also expensive, considering what you get in return. It’s high time trade show exhibitors moved on from unnecessary technology that’s slowing them down. 


Ok, so what do we want to see more of in 2020? Here are a few trends worth sticking to: 


Well-trained personnel. 

There’s a shift in the industry, back toward an emphasis on the people you bring to a show. If you select the right team to go, train them sufficiently and equip them well, you will maximize your returns in a major way. Your people matter, and investing in them more is a trend we hope to see become mainstream in a hurry this year. 


Thoughtful giveaways. 

Ok so we said adieu to silly and cheap tchotchkes, but we didn’t say we want to get rid of giveaways altogether! Holding contests, offering prizes and handing out swag still has its place. But the trend of the future is making all of it worth the attendees’ while. It doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, either. It just means you need to give these initiatives some thought and make sure what you’re delivering matches with what your audience needs and wants. Not leaky pens!


The right dose of the right tech. 

Technology can play a key role in the best trade show marketing ideas. But it has to make sense for your company, the trade show you’re attending and your booth visitors. We’re big fans of Augmented Reality (AR), which – unlike VR – is cost-effective, inclusive and nearly limitless. We also love using touch screens for interactive games and to create immersive experiences. 

But all of it has to be rooted in a bigger strategy and in a real understanding of your target customer. If you have that locked down, then the right dose of the right tech can work wonders in making your booth memorable and effective. 


What about you? Are there any trends you’re itching to ditch or trade show trends for 2020 you can’t wait to try? We’d love to partner with you and make it happen. Just give us a call!