Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. Then 2017. Yes, it might be a little early for predictions, but we just completed our 2017 budget so the future has been on our minds for several months.
Here’s what our Magic 8 Ball tells us. Industry predictions from Kevin and Mel.
Elections Always Bring Doubt. This year more than most. However, there’s a difference between uncertain uncertainty and certain uncertainty. Just in the past two weeks, we’ve seen a significant increase in design requests, whether trade show, corporate environments, or events. We expect that to continue through Q1 and Q2.
We believe that 2017 will mimic 2015. More new builds with a focus on “I want what I want.” Less of “I’ll get what I need.” If that holds true, we will all benefit.
Generalist vs. Specialist. In our collective little world, you better be an anal-retentive, opportunistic generalist. We can no longer pretend to just do trade shows or events or museum or retail design. We must embrace all 3D opportunities available. I’m amazed at the projects leaving our dock which will never be on a trade show floor. They’ll be at a sales meeting, in a mall, in a corporate conference room, or a bracket for a wireless product.
Change is inevitable. What you don’t know, you learn or partner with someone with “a particular set of skills.” Two years ago, we didn’t know squat about charging stations. Now, we can’t build them fast enough.
Charging Stations, Lightboxes, Rental Furniture. I won’t belabor this. You’ve heard us say it before. It’s basically free money on nearly every trade show order if you include charging stations, lightboxes, and rental furniture. Ignoring these hot trends will negatively impact your income.
Rental Exhibits and Accessories. It’s hard to ignore a 25% sales increase year-over-year for seven straight years. We expect rentals to continue at this pace. Just this year, Jim Shelman and his team added a significant inventory of Gravitee Modular Solutions which has proven to reduce I&D and drayage costs for clients while expanding his already impressive design portfolio.
Branded Environments. Customers want their corporate environments, show floor spaces, and events to be consistent. Meaning, branding in all spaces will only continue to grow. This includes re-purposing graphic messaging or, better yet, using parts of their exhibit in their corporate environments during off-show times.
Data Analytics on Steroids. Data analytics appears to be poised for a massive leap. This includes the ability to track movement, “hang time” in a space, and influence an event in real-time. All driven by the desire to track engagement and make adjustments on the fly to meet attendee needs during an event or a show.
Sustainability. It’s not a new topic, but it got shelved by many exhibitors during the recession. 2017 will see a renewed push for sustainable materials and practices in corporate exhibit and event programs.
Less is More. Exhibitors continue to rely on “system” structures like aluminum extrusions to build their properties. But less and less of it is seen via creative graphic applications or integrated custom wood fabrication, cladding, powder-coating, etc. Aluminum extrusion sales are increasing… we’re just seeing less of it visually.
Company-Managed Trade Shows. 2016 saw a big increase in companies managing their own shows. These were often branded as events but in reality were in-house mini-shows with their preferred partners and customers. It allows companies to define the attendee list and manage what attendees see (and don’t see). That’s not to say that companies are abandoning their exhibit programs at national shows. Not at all. But adding these events gives them a higher ROI for specific product launches, training sessions, or sales events.
Assembly, Shipping, and Drayage. These concerns never go away, whether it’s 2008 or 2017. If you’re not designing and engineering to minimize these issues, then you are an ostrich with your head in the sand. We believe that Gravitee represents the first comprehensive solution. No tools. No loose parts. Curves. Flat panels. Wire management. Fabric and direct print graphics. And seamless connectivity to the MODUL Aluminum Extrusion System. Yes, this is a blatant plug for Gravitee, but it’s also a prediction. Gravitee will be front and forward in 2017.
Please share your thoughts and predictions in the comments. What did we miss or get wrong?