New Report Outlines Future of Trade Shows, How to Prepare for Them

January 14, 2013

In a continuous effort to stay ahead of the curve, meeting industry leaders collaborated to fund a research project to predict, as well as plan for the future of, convention exhibits and trade shows.

ASAE Foundation, Exhibition Industry Foundation, Freeman, Gaylord Entertainment, and PCMA Education commissioned a project to look at the trends and analyze trade shows from five hypothetical perspectives. 

Each provides insight into how to create more impact with exhibit space.

Scenarios of the Future: Convention Exhibits and Trade Show 2016is the result from a year-long research study that comprised of extensive research within the exhibits industry, face-to-face discussions, outreach to industry and non-industry professionals, and online discussions.

“The future of trade shows can’t be predicted by conventional survey methodology,” said Liz Erikson, Chair, PCMA Education Foundation.

She added, “Rather than conducting traditional research, we gathered some of the best minds in the meetings and events industry in small and large group discussions to visualize where our industry is headed and what we’ll need to do to prepare.”

In addition to industry leaders, the research included perspectives from exhibitors and attendees to determine the way forward.

“This study clearly demonstrates that the future will not resemble the past,” said Francis Friedman, President of New York-based trade show consultant group Time & Place Strategies.

He added, “New marketing methods, new formats for interactions and rapid changes in social media will require new approaches to audience development and building event brand loyalty.”

The full report outlines the following key findings:

Five Scenarios for the Future – The design principles, potential risks and business model indicators associated with each approach

Four Essential Elements to Create an Unrivaled Experience – The essential ingredients for crafting a “wow” event

Top 10 Takeaways for Updating Your Exhibits Plan – Complete with descriptions and a discussion guide for further exploration

Assessment metrics tables – Key questions your team can use to gauge performance

“As an industry, it’s critical for us to continually look at how to improve the experience, quality, and format of our exhibit space, so we can provide the high-quality event our members and exhibitors expect,” said ASAE President & CEO John H. Graham IV, CAE.

To learn more and download the complete findings visit

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