Anticipating the future, with surprises

Vincent Polito (pictured below), Society of Independent Show Organisers (SISO) CEO, offers some predictions for the industry in 2024.

Vincent PolitoAs we approach 2024, the trade show industry will see technology adoption enhancing and improving our efforts across the board. Rather than a revolutionary upheaval, a key trend is the increasing acceptance and adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In 2024, AI is set to gain significantly greater traction, seamlessly integrating into trade show experiences. Organisers and exhibitors will use AI-driven solutions to gain insights into attendee behaviours, streamlining operations and elevating the overall experience.

Simultaneously, the adoption of a data-driven decision-making culture is poised to gain significantly greater traction. The abundance of data, from social media interactions to booth analytics, will be actively leveraged. In 2024, the industry will witness a shift towards data-informed strategies. Organisers and exhibitors will use robust data analytics tools to optimise event planning and enhance the overall experience. This transition underscores a commitment to strategic, informed decision-making.

Personally, as the owner of Data 4 Decisions, a brand that struggled earlier, I celebrate the prospect that data-driven strategies will gain significantly greater traction in 2024. I have always believed that we would only reach the ‘data informed’ or ‘data influenced’ stage, but now I think we will surpass that threshold.

Sustainability goes beyond a trend; it will gain prominence as organisers and exhibitors prioritise eco-friendly practices. From innovative booth designs to renewable energy sources, trade shows will exemplify responsible event management. This shift aligns with global goals, positioning the trade show industry as a conscientious contributor to environmental conservation. Major players have made strides, but 2024 will be the year of more widespread adoption and progress.

The mergers and acquisitions (M&A) landscape is expected to maintain its robust trajectory in 2024. The industry will witness a continued surge in strategic partnerships and acquisitions as companies seek to expand their reach and stay ahead of emerging trends. Anticipate this activity in all areas of the ecosystem, not just on the organiser side.

The result will be the emergence of stronger, more adaptable players equipped to navigate the evolving demands of the trade show ecosystem. Equally significant perhaps is the trend that acquisitions usually also result in the rise of newer business start-ups. So perhaps 2025 will be the rise of the smaller start-up businesses. But we have some time before the 2025 predictions. 

In summary, the trade show industry in 2024 is poised for a transformative journey. The increasing traction of AI, coupled with a more widespread embrace of data-driven decision-making, sustainable practices, and continued M&A activity, paints a picture of an industry evolving strategically to meet the demands of the future. Expect some surprises along the way!