Trade Show Trends for 2024: The Latest & Greatest

Trade Show Trenches
May 24, 2024

Trade shows (or trade fairs) have been an essential tool for conducting business, meeting new customers, and launching new products ever since farmers, merchants, and artisans needed a place to sell their goods and services. Basically for thousands of years. And as times have changed, so have trade shows and trade show marketing. 

For exhibitors, attracting attendees to their booth now requires a comprehensive strategy that includes custom trade show exhibit design and takes into the latest trends in trade shows. In this post, we’ll discuss the latest and greatest trade show trends in 2024 (and beyond). Some are simply twists on tried and true trade show marketing tactics, but others tap into the allure of A/R, AI, and other technologies. 

Navigating Trade Show Trends in 2024

Researching trade show trends is akin to the “drinking out of a fire hose” metaphor. It’s overwhelming. In addition, a trend that makes perfect sense for one exhibitor might be ineffective for another exhibitor. And, of course, there are budgets to consider. 

For example, LED video tiles are a hot topic right now in exhibit design. But they’re expensive, even as prices have declined over the past two years. Very few companies can afford to rent the LED tiles, develop video content exclusively for the tiles, and pay an A/V supplier to install and maintain them during a show. 

On the opposite end of the budget spectrum, there’s a growing demand for low-tech games like cornhole, golf putting, and simple carnival games. These are affordable as rentals, can be branded with a theme, and often include prizes and memorable promotional products.   

When considering a trade show trend, especially as a tool to attract attendees to our booth, be sure to consider if it integrates with your overall trade show strategy and goals and whether it “fits” your company’s culture and personality.

2024 Trade Show Trends

Trade Show Trend #1: Embracing Sustainability at Trade Shows

Green is good! And trade show organizers, suppliers, and venues have finally embraced sustainability as good for business (and good for the planet). Fortunately, there are easy and cost-effective ways to be both a smart marketer and a smart global citizen. Here are some ways to incorporate sustainability into your trade show program in 2024:

Booth Design and Materials:

  • Eco-friendly Materials: Opt for recyclable, renewable, or recycled content for your booth construction. Look for certifications like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for wood products.
  • Reusable elements: Utilize modular displays or rent furniture instead of building custom elements. Consider using fabric graphics instead of vinyl banners.
  • Energy Efficiency: Use LED lighting and low-power electronics in your booth to minimize energy consumption.

Reduce Waste:

  • Digital First: Ditch printed brochures and catalogs. Offer downloadable versions on tablets or create an engaging interactive display.
  • Sustainable Swag: Give away reusable items like water bottles, tote bags, or seed packets made from recycled materials. Avoid single-use plastics altogether.
  • Recycling and Composting: Work with the venue to provide recycling and composting bins at your booth. Clearly label them to encourage responsible disposal.

Logistics and Transportation:

  • Choose a Sustainable Venue: Look for trade show venues that prioritize sustainability efforts like energy-efficient lighting or recycling programs.
  • Optimize Shipping: Consider consolidating shipments or using eco-friendly packaging materials.
  • Offset Carbon Emissions: There are companies that can help you calculate and offset the carbon footprint of your trade show participation.

Communication and Engagement:

  • Promote Your Sustainability: Let attendees know about your commitment to sustainability through signage or your marketing materials.
  • Partner with Sustainable Suppliers: Choose vendors who share your commitment to sustainability for things like booth construction or catering.
  • Encourage Sustainable Practices: Offer incentives for attendees to participate in sustainable actions, like using a refillable water bottle or downloading digital brochures.

By implementing these practices, you can significantly reduce the environmental impact of your trade show presence and showcase your company’s commitment to sustainability.

hybrid events

Trend #2: The Rise of Trade Show Technology 

These trends highlight how technology is transforming trade shows from static product displays to dynamic, data-driven experiences that cater to individual needs and create a lasting impact.  Here’s a breakdown of some hot trade show technology trends for 2024:

AI-powered Personalization: Artificial intelligence (AI) is moving beyond data analysis and basic chatbots. In 2024, expect AI to personalize the attendee experience. Imagine AI tailoring virtual booths, product demos, and even suggesting networking opportunities based on individual interests and past behavior at the show.

Interactive Technologies:  Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are no longer novelties. In 2024, expect them to be even more immersive and interactive. Imagine using AR to see how a product works within your own environment, or experiencing a virtual product demonstration that feels real.

The Rise of Biometrics: Biometric technology is slowly making its way into trade shows.  While still in its early stages, imagine using facial recognition for lead retrieval or customizing booth experiences based on a user’s emotional state.

5G for Seamless Connectivity:  The rollout of 5G networks will revolutionize trade shows by enabling faster download and upload speeds. This will allow for smoother real-time data exchange, high-quality VR and AR experiences, and seamless integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices within booths.

Advanced Analytics for Smarter Decisions:  Data is king, and trade shows are embracing it.  Expect exhibitors to use advanced analytics to track attendee behavior at their booths, measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, and gain insights to optimize their presence at future shows.

Trends #3-15:  More 2024 Trade Show Trends

Trade shows in 2024 are all about creating a memorable and impactful experience for attendees. These trends highlight the evolving nature of trade shows, with a focus on creating a more engaging, informative, and sustainable experience for all participants. Here are some of the key trends you can expect to see:

3. Focus on Personalization:  Attendees are looking for experiences tailored to their interests. This could involve using data to personalize booth presentations or offering interactive experiences that cater to different needs.

4. Tech-Driven Engagement:  Technology is everywhere at trade shows in 2024. Interactive displays, gamification, and social media integration are all being used to keep attendees engaged and coming back for more.

5. The Hybrid Approach:  The rise of virtual events isn’t going anywhere. Many trade shows are adopting a hybrid model, offering both in-person and virtual components to reach a wider audience.

6. Meeting Spaces in Demand:  The focus on networking continues to grow, with attendees seeking dedicated spaces for private conversations and building connections. Expect to see an increase in designated meeting areas within trade shows.

7. Data Drives Decisions:  Organizers and exhibitors alike are leveraging data analytics to optimize their trade show experiences. This can involve tracking attendee behavior, measuring engagement with displays, and using insights to improve future events.

8. The Human Touch with Tech: While technology is a major force, there’s still a strong emphasis on the human element. Expect to see technology used to enhance human interaction, not replace it.

9. Playful Learning: Trade shows are embracing gamification to educate attendees in a fun and engaging way.  Interactive games and challenges can help people learn about products and services in a memorable manner.

10. The Metaverse Emerges: While still in its early stages, the metaverse is making its way into trade shows. This could involve creating virtual showrooms or experiences that attendees can access remotely.

11. Customer-Centric Booth Design:  It’s not just about showcasing products anymore.  Booths are becoming more comfortable and inviting, designed to prioritize attendee experience and interaction. Think open layouts, lounge areas, and activities that encourage conversation.

12. Focus on Wellness:  Recognizing the demands of a busy event, some shows are incorporating wellness elements into the experience. This could include yoga sessions, healthy food options, or designated quiet zones for attendees to recharge.

13. The Power of Storytelling:  Facts and figures are important, but stories resonate. Look for exhibitors using storytelling techniques to connect with attendees on an emotional level and make their brand more memorable.

14. Metrics:  With the rise of data-driven decision-making, exhibitors are going beyond lead generation to track a wider range of metrics. This could involve measuring engagement on social media, website traffic generated from the event, or brand sentiment analysis.

15. Security on the Rise:  As technology plays a bigger role, cybersecurity is becoming a growing concern. Expect to see trade shows implementing stricter security measures to protect attendee data.

Bonus: How to Maximize Your 2024 Trade Show Trends

The Essentials to Event Branding

Every event has a personality, either by chance or by design. And because no event marketer wants the personality to be by chance, defining it serves as the strategic foundation for all future decisions. Trade shows, in particular, because they are industry or company-specific, often have distinct identities. 

Here’s a breakdown of what event branding entails:

  • Core Elements: This includes a catchy name, logo, color scheme, fonts, and even imagery. These elements all work together to create a cohesive visual identity.
  • Messaging: This involves crafting clear and consistent messaging that conveys the event’s purpose, value proposition, and the kind of experience attendees can expect.
  • Overall Experience: Event branding goes beyond just the visual aspects. It encompasses the entire attendee journey, from pre-event promotion to on-site experience and post-event follow-up. Every touchpoint, from registration materials to staff interactions, should reflect the event’s brand.

exhibit trends for trade shows

Trade Show Marketing Materials to Maximize Your Reach

Trade show success requires more than a “pretty display.” It requires specific goals, an executable plan, and a range of trade show marketing materials to maximize your return on investment. Trade show marketing is (not surprisingly) “marketing.” The tools may differ but not the steps required to attract and engage potential clients. 

Let’s start with the basics. These are essential items regardless of your budget or your size. You’re probably already doing all of these, but let’s review them anyway.

1. Business Cards: While business cards may have lost some of their luster, potential clients will still request them as a mental reminder of who they visited on the show floor. Off the show floor, business cards are essential for social events, educational seminars, and random discussions with strangers while getting coffee.

2. Branded Apparel: Branded apparel is clothing that features a company’s logo, slogan, or other branding elements. For attendees, it’s a convenient reminder of your company before, during, and after show hours. 

3. Promotional Products:  Promotional products are any merchandise branded with a company’s logo or slogan to promote a brand, corporate identity, or event. A promotional product that reinforces your marketing strategy and brand can have a financial impact that greatly exceeds the cost of the giveaway. 

4. Brochures (PDFs): Most attendees don’t want to carry paper flyers, brochures, or catalogs. However, a few samples can be helpful when reviewing products and services. Be sure to have PDFs that can be emailed directly from your lead retrieval software. 

5. Lead Retrieval/Management: Electronic lead retrieval software is a must for any exhibitor at an industry trade show. Not only does it capture leads effortlessly, but it also allows you to send a thank you, product information, and even a questionnaire automatically from the show floor. 

Leveraging Trade Show Technology

Trade show technology has made it easier to demonstrate products and services, create immersive experiences on the show floor, and track clients throughout the buying process. And we’ve only begun to tap into the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and LED video tiles. 

Here are some of the best practices to consider when incorporating technology into your trade show marketing:

1. Target Your Audience: Consider who you’re trying to attract and what would resonate with them. Tech should enhance the experience, not alienate potential customers who might prefer a more traditional approach.

2. Use Interactive Elements: People remember experiences they participate in. Use touchscreens, games, quizzes, or VR/AR experiences to grab attention and educate attendees about your product or service.

3. Create a Seamless User Experience: Ensure your technology is user-friendly and functions smoothly. Offer technical support on hand in case of glitches.

4. Consider Accessibility: Ensure your technology is accessible to all attendees, including those with disabilities.

5. Always Measure and Analyze Your Results: Track engagement metrics and lead generation to assess the effectiveness of your tech-driven strategies. Use this data to improve your approach for future shows.

Excelling with a 20×20 Island Exhibit 

Island exhibits come with a set of unique features and benefits that can give your brand a strong presence and maximize your interaction with potential customers. An island offers exhibitors the flexibility to conduct demos, semi-private meetings, or even presentations, while the size allows for multiple large (and captivating) graphics. 

Here are some key advantages:


  • Larger Footprint: With more space, you have greater flexibility to create a dynamic and immersive experience. You can incorporate various elements like product displays, demonstration areas, meeting rooms, and interactive features.
  • Customizable Design: Island exhibits offer more design freedom compared to smaller booths. You can tailor the layout, graphics, and technology to align perfectly with your brand identity and marketing goals.
  • Prominent Branding: The larger size allows for prominent branding elements like tall towers, hanging signs, and illuminated features. This helps your brand stand out from the crowd and attract attention from afar.


1. Enhanced Brand Awareness: The larger space and prominent branding elements create a stronger brand presence, helping you increase brand awareness and recognition among attendees.

2. Memorable Experience: By incorporating engaging elements like demonstrations, interactive displays, and comfortable meeting areas, you can create a memorable experience for visitors, leaving a lasting impression of your brand.

3. Versatility: Modular island exhibits can be adapted to different booth sizes and configurations, making them a versatile investment for multiple trade shows or events.


trade show data

10×10 Trade Show Booth Design Tips

Making a splash in a 10×10 trade show booth space requires some creative thinking and strategic planning. Here are 6 tips to help you attract attention and engage potential customers:

1. Bold Design & Branding: Utilize vibrant colors, eye-catching graphics, and clear messaging that reflects your brand identity. Stand out from the sea of beige with an impactful and cohesive design.

2. Interactive Elements: Incorporate interactive displays, demos, or games that let people engage with your product or service. Touchscreens, product trials, or even VR experiences can spark curiosity and draw people in.

3. Contests & Giveaways: Offer small prizes or incentives for people to visit your booth or participate in activities. This can be anything from raffle tickets to free samples.

4. Live Demos & Presentations: Schedule product demonstrations or short presentations throughout the day to showcase your offering in action and educate potential customers.

5. Location Awareness: Request a location near high-traffic areas or entrances if possible. Consider complementary businesses nearby to attract relevant leads.

6. Inviting Booth Layout: Avoid creating a closed-off feel. Arrange furniture and displays to encourage people to enter and explore your space.

Embrace the Latest Trade Show Trends & Tech with Exhibits NW! 

Keeping up with latest trade show trends can be challenging for many exhibitors and implementing them can be daunting. The Exhibits NW professionals see trends come and go and understand which ones are trendy vs. impactful. That knowledge is invaluable to their clients in both custom exhibit design and trade show marketing.   

At Exhibits Northwest, we’ve been designing and fabricating exhibits for more than 20 years. More importantly, we’ve been partnering with companies to elevate their trade show marketing campaigns and guiding them through the hidden landmines of trade shows. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation and trade show marketing review.

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If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form and we’ll contact you shortly.