The future of the connected exhibition space

Pete Allen, Founder of 4D, discusses why exhibition stands should be leading the way in smart spaces, able to adapt and change in line with their audience using tracking and technology.

For a structure that’s temporary in nature, exhibition stands can be exceedingly static. As a designer at heart, I understand why. Months of planning, painstakingly drawn out designs and solutions, the eventual build and the management of staff.

All of these stages, quite key in exhibition brand design, lend themselves well to a static environment. Yet as we’ve been exploring more and more, with a little thought, exhibition stands too, can become ‘smart spaces’ that adapt and evolve over the course of a show.

Let me explain what I mean by that.


Connected spaces of the future

IoT is leading the way in homes, cars and offices to create smarter spaces. Two examples we’ve all either used or heard of; heating that turns off when the room reaches a certain temperature, a fridge which buzzes us when it runs out of milk.

These types of technologies are already fueling our everyday lives, in fact it’s likely that your home, your car or your office is ten times smarter than the last exhibition you bought a pass for.

These connected spaces are part of our future. One day, they’ll become so ingrained that we’ll fail to notice they’re even there. We’ll look back on times where we had to adjust a thermostat or pick up a remote and laugh at the amount of effort it took.

As a result, our lives will become easier, our waste smaller and our environments much more reactive and sensitive to our needs.

There is no reason why our exhibition stands right now, can’t do the same thing.


Time, tracking and technology

There are a few factors which will bridge our current brand environments and ones of the future; namely time, tracking and technology.

Time because these are smart spaces that adapt and grow with the exhibition. Prior to show day you may assume that the coffee bar will be your most popular hotpoint, that your meeting rooms will be busy between 9 and 12, and that the footfall will travel in a clockwise direction.

By midday of your first show day, all of these assumptions could have changed because they’ll never be another chance to test everything in such a pulsating, real world environment. You cannot predict what else will be going on around you, what time people’s stomachs will rumble or what they’re order at the bar. Instead, you have to plan to be able to adapt to it.

Which leads us onto tracking. It’s a point of pride that we build brand environments that are metric-focused and fully trackable. From this, data is available in real time and when it’s available in real time, it can be adapted to.

Lastly, technology is a big player in the enablement of exhibition stands as smart spaces. Think of an exhibition stand bar that uses digital signage to show its most busy time (based on data from the experience so far), or that shows the most popular tipple of the day. Move on to meeting rooms that adapt and can redirect visitors to a space that’s free if they remain occupied after the initial time. Think of the waits this would save and the conversations that could thrive without time constraints or limits.


The future of exhibition stands

If you launched a digital marketing campaign and it didn’t work, you’d pivot quickly. In online environments we’re primed for change with readily adaptable data at our fingertips.

In 3D brand environments you only have one chance to get things right. We understand this pressure, yet we also see what an opportunity it poses to create a space that’s smarter. One that evolves to its audience like a living organism, where a pain point of one day could be a selling point of another. Where digital signage, product demonstrations and face-to-face spaces can all mirror the wishes and desires of those using them.

The data and the technology to tell us what our audience wants is already there; all we have to do is listen to it.