It’s been a tough couple of years for the events industry, the Covid pandemic hit hard with no live events able to take place for nearly 2 years.  But they quickly adapted to the situation and virtual events sprung up in their place.  In fact, the way the industry adapted to the situation makes it stand out from others quite dramatically.  Virtual events, concerts and trade shows became part of life during successive lockdowns and now they are part of the Exhibition trends in 2022.

But now that restrictions have been lifted, events are able to go back to ‘normal’, though the threat of coronavirus still lingers in the background requiring certain safety measures.  So with in-person events able to resume, what does the future of the events industry look like?  Here we cover the latest exhibition trends in 2022:

1. Virtual events will continue

The success of virtual events means that they are likely to continue in some form.  International travel can still be troublesome, so in order to attract a global audience event organisers will probably continue to offer a virtual element.  This will generally run alongside a live event, creating hybrid events.  Regardless of the pandemic, offering a digital option for an event makes it much more accessible, and opens it up on a global scale.

CES, for example – the world’s largest entertainment trade show – took place as both a virtual event and an in-person event in 2022, and the organisers have stated that it’s unlikely to ever return to solely being an in-person event.

The introduction of the metaverse is likely to encourage more online events.  Metaverse is a combination of online worlds where users appear as avatars and view the world through virtual reality, allowing for a much more immersive experience than is generally found online.  Artists like Ariana Grande have already hosted virtual concerts on the Fortnite platform, attracting millions of viewers. These are likely to become more widespread, especially when aimed at younger generations.

Virtual Events - Exhibition trends in 2022

2. Health and safety remain a priority

Covid isn’t going away so organisers of in-person events will have to continue to make health and safety arrangements.  Mandatory vaccination or negative test proof is likely to still feature in large events.  Organisers will also have to be mindful of cleanliness and provide hand sanitisers.  Attendees will still be worried about the threat of the virus, so organisers need to take as many safety precautions as possible.

The Vendry’s Rain and Shine: Events in 2022 report found that to 62% of event organisers were most concerned about attendee health and safety.  American Express Meetings & Events’ 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast found a similar 58% of respondents were concerned about safety at in-person events.

3. Sustainability is increasingly important

Sustainability is also part of the exhibition trends in 2022. Large scale trade shows and exhibitions have not done well in sustainability in the past, they tend to generate huge amounts of waste.  But times are changing, and many more people focus on sustainability now.  83 percent of event professionals in the American Express survey said that their organisations were taking sustainability into account when planning events, mostly by reducing paper and including energy-saving and waste reduction measures.

Exhibitors can become more sustainable by sourcing a reusable modular stand rather than having a custom built stand which is often discarded after the exhibition.  Custom modular stands, like those produced by Quadrant2Design are 100% reconfigurable and reusable for future events, the company will even help you reconfigure them for free.  They are easy to assemble and fold down small for ease of transport.

White and blue exhibition stand design. Four open sides Island stand 7m x 6m size.

White and blue 7m x 6m size exhibition stand design. Four Open Sides Island Stand for Weightron Industrial weight specialists.

4. Increasing use of technology

Exhibitors and organisers are increasingly using new technology to attract attendees to events.  Many exhibitors are experimenting with robots and artificial intelligence to bring new experiences to their stands.  From chatbots to speech and image recognition there are many new developments out there.  Some are also using virtual reality to give visitors a more immersive experience.

Event organisers are also bringing in new technologies.  In the summer audiences will be able to see Abba perform on stage as they did in the 1970s through the use of hologram technology.  Other artists, including K-Pop stars BTS, have also experimented with on-stage holograms recently, enabling more fans to see their idols perform in front of their eyes. Similar technology is bound to find its way into business events – such as Microsoft’s HoloLens-powered keynote speaker that’s able to address audiences in different languages.

Other exhibition trends in 200 are innovations designed to create in-person experiences that match the entertainment of virtual experiences include 3D cubes that project images to a person from every direction to create an immersive new booth experience.

5. NFTs

Non-fungible tokens are blockchain tokens primarily used for ownership of digital assets.  However there are possibilities for them in other industries.  Their security means that they could be used for event tickets and creating digital souvenirs.  For example, the organisers of the Coachella festival which takes place every year in California, USA, have said they will issue exclusive NFTs, which will work as lifetime passes to the event.

NFTs are easily transferable so they can be sold on if someone decides they no-longer want it.  Their security is likely to be appealing to ticket sellers to help discourage the sale of counterfeit tickets which have become an increasing problem.

Summary

The event industry is slowly recovering from the Covid pandemic with live events returning and restrictions easing.  But virtual or hybrid events are likely to remain popular in 2022 and beyond due to international travel restrictions and their popularity.  Health and safety will continue to be important and exhibitors and event organisers will continue to embrace new technology innovations.