Trade Show Booth Design in 2022: Getting Back to Business

Trade Show Booth Design in 2022: Getting Back to Business
by Adam Fabianski / September 23, 2022

During the height of the pandemic, trade show attendance declined dramatically among both exhibitors and visitors. Major shows such as CES transitioned to virtual or digital events to maintain connections, while many in-person gatherings were canceled altogether. Now that the shows are back on, businesses are pulling out all the stops. They’re applying the latest trends in trade show booth design as they return to the face-to-face world of arenas, exhibition halls and conference centers.

Is your exhibition booth ready to get back to work? 

In this article, we share three trends shaping trade show booth design and how your brand can use them to deliver memorable in-person experiences at your next event.

What are the major factors influencing trade show booth design today?

Bloomberg reports that in 2020, US business-to-business convention attendance dropped to one-fifth of 2019’s numbers. By the end of 2021, though, in-person events were making a recovery, albeit slowly. Attendance for B2B trade shows in Q4 2021 was still just over half of 2019’s Q4 performance.  

As visitors return to trade shows hosted in the physical world, they bring with them expectations shaped by their virtual experiences. They also bring with them a desire for the types of in-person experiences that can’t be replicated by online conferences and trade shows. In particular, trade show visitors want to make personal connections, understand brands’ missions and values and see and touch the products they’ve spent the last two years researching online. 

Members of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers told the organization that in-person events remain important because “nothing can replace the experience of connecting with others in-person” and they provide an interactive venue for vendors to gain valuable insights and feedback from their end users. 

It’s these expectations and the new ideas and innovations—such as interactive displays, augmented reality and hybrid engagements—developed during the past several years that are shaping today’s best trade show booth designs. 

Here is a look at the top trends of 2022.

Three Trade Show Trends Influencing Booth Design in 2022

1. Customers are placing a premium on relationships and want to build stronger, more personal connections with businesses.

B2B and B2C buyers are assigning more significance to the behavior and values of the brands they choose to do business with. As buyers evaluate an organization and its solutions, they are also looking at whether the organization’s statements and actions align with their own. 

How does this impact trade show booth design? 

First, as an extension of the brand, trade show booths should be designed to make a positive, on-brand first impression. Of course, businesses’ trade show booths need to attract attention. But, more importantly, they need to display the exhibitor’s persona and character. If waving balloon people, bright lights and loud noise aren’t a part of your brand’s personality, they don’t have a place in your booth’s design. 

Second, while it’s important to incorporate digital multimedia elements into your booth’s design, don’t forget to leave room for analog interactions. Not every space (or budget) is large enough to support a wholly separate conference room. However, to facilitate the conversations that make connections and build relationships, plan your booth’s layout to provide for semi-private areas. 

Your design and fabrication partner can help you select a layout and materials that reduce noise and visual distractions for your meeting areas. 

Third, consider your buyer’s journey and the touchpoints that are likely to occur during a trade show when planning your booth’s design. Then add features that add convenience and enhance visitors’ experiences. 

For example, if you plan to conduct meetings that last more than a few minutes, add seating and surfaces for guests to place laptops or other devices for taking notes and exchanging information. Make visitors feel welcomed and motivated to stick around longer by adding cooling stations for them and charging stations for their devices, or similar value-adding elements.

2. Consumers are digital-first and the lines between online and offline experiences have been erased. 

People attending in-person events are bringing their devices with them and don’t want to unplug. Brands can and should use this digital connection to enhance visitors’ in-person experiences and continue the conversation online

How can businesses build in-person booths that keep customers connected digitally? 

Trade show booths should include the physical tools needed to connect visitors’ offline and online experiences. These digital connectors may include self-service displays or kiosks, augmented or virtual reality devices, and audience-friendly video displays. 

Create pathways to online assets by adding the company’s home page or an event-specific landing page URL and/or QR codes to the booth’s graphic displays and signage. Don’t forget to save a spot for a badge reader to collect critical data about stall visitors. 

When deciding what types of electronics to install in your trade show booth, focus on function. Will a particular display screen or interactive element inform, engage or entertain buyers? Is there a more economical way to achieve the same result? 

Also think about creating opportunities for social sharing when you design your booth. Use specialized lighting or interactive elements to create photo-worthy product displays and demo spaces that encourage visitors to snap an image and share it online. 

Work with your design team to choose technologies that support your business goals and deliver positive ROI.

3. Fewer buyers are attending in-person events, cutting into cost to return ratios for trade shows and conferences. 

Trade shows and exhibitions are making a comeback. But attendance isn’t at 2019 levels yet. That means most vendors are getting fewer views, leads and customers from each event and need to manage costs carefully. But delaying upgrades to aging exhibit booths isn’t always the answer. Visitors still expect to be impressed by what they see. 

Overcome the economic challenges of upgrading an existing booth or building a new one, by working with your design and fabrication company to build a customized booth tailored to your needs and budget. Tell your design partner how and for how long you plan to use your booth and let them help you select the best design and materials. 

Why not just use pre-built modular designs? 

Modular booth designs are a popular choice for brands that want to keep their options open. But they don’t always support the detailed customization necessary for brands to stand out on a crowded convention floor. A better option is to develop a custom plan that includes modular components, along with custom details and pieces that can be refinished, re-wrapped or swapped out to meet the brand’s needs or fit different display spaces.

Design and build a successful trade show booth with the help of a trusted partner

Your trade show booth is a brand activation, lead generation and conversion channel for your organization. Investing in a customized booth that displays your company at its best will help grow your audience and keep you top of mind as buyers look for ways to connect in person. 

A full-service exhibition design and fabrication company can help you get the results you’re looking for. Learn how, by scheduling a no-pressure introduction to Bridgewater Studio today. Let us create a free customized project plan for you and start building your best trade show booth yet.




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