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Applying International Trends to Local Exhibitions

Justin Hawes, managing director of Scan Display Solutions, a leader in the Southern African exhibition and display industry, gives a perspective on current industry trends.

One thing we all know for certain is that ‘the only thing constant in life is change.’

Today, in the 21st century, this seems like an understatement, as we are experiencing what feels like an avalanche of change – with the incredibly rapid development of technology having a profound impact on our lives.

The world is smaller and we know so much more.

And of course the commercial world, especially the marketing field, is at the forefront of it all.

This is where exhibitions, integral to the marketing mix, enter the equation.

Things are changing rapidly in the exhibition industry too and we constantly see new trends emerging at shows and in stand design.

The latest trends

Earlier this year, Scan Display sent a team of nine staff members to Euroshop 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

This is the largest retail trade fair in the world, showcasing the latest international exhibition and display trends.

This year’s show included 2 226 exhibitors from 57 countries, attracting more than 109 000 trade visitors from 110 countries. Of course the Scan team came back invigorated with new ideas!

Our first opportunity to apply some of the Euroshop trends was at Markex Jhb, where we made a great effort to bring exhibition design closer to nature.

The majority of our stand had a natural wooden finish, in line with the trend of using natural, untreated and uncoated finishes.

We are seeing the introduction of ‘earthy’ elements with driftwood, concrete and construction pallets being used on stands. 

At Markex we displayed iPads on wooden logs, with the juxtaposition between natural material and sophisticated technology creating an impact.

We had limited printed marketing collateral on our stand.

Instead, we adopted the international trend of using audio visual marketing material, using iPads, 32 inch touch screens and 40 inch LCD screens to display our product range.

Our stand had no traditional printed panels with graphics and text, as the audio visual tools presented more comprehensive product information.

Show visitors are also a lot more ‘techno-savvy’ these days and are not afraid to use new ways to access the information they need.

Our commitment to greening

For some time now, Scan Display has been committed to using greening practices both within the company and externally, for the stands we design and build for clients.

We have appointed four ‘green teams’ – two in Johannesburg and one each in Cape Town and Durban – to promote eco-friendly practices throughout the company.

We have also led the way in producing eco-friendly exhibition stands and displays in Southern Africa.

We were instrumental in the formation of the Event Greening Forum, an association formed to promote sustainable and ethical business practices within the events industry in South Africa.

Last year we won a sustainable development award from UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, for the South African Climate Change Response Expo hosted at COP17 in Durban in 2011.

UFI, which has more than 600 members in 85 countries, selected Scan as the winner of the ‘Best Innovative Environmental Initiative’ award based on “Scan Display’s full approach to sustainability in this challenging project, which started from a parking lot and ended up as a comprehensive concept.”

Other UFI environmental award winners were the Cape Town International Convention Centre and Amsterdam RAI. We are proud to be up there with the best!

We apply sound environmental principles to every project we undertake.

For example, in the open meeting areas at Meetings Africa this year we concentrated on recycling, including untreated wooden floors and benches, and even recycled car tyres with a fresh coat of paint for seating.

We have recently launched our latest portfolio publication, which was printed on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper.

It is important to remember with greening that there is no single winning formula. 

According to the latest UFI report on the Status of Sustainability in the Exhibition Industry, one of the challenges of sustainability is that there cannot be a standard ‘check-list’ of actions, as it is up to each company to assess its priorities, given its own environment.

Flexibility is required and it is important to involve the entire supply chain.

Experiential stands

Although so-called ‘green’ exhibitions continue to be the biggest industry trend, we also applied other trends at Markex Jhb.

This included incorporating social media on our stand.

We ran a competition where visitors could take a photo with a Scan Display team member and post it to Facebook or tweet it.

The person with the most shares and re-tweets won a two-night stay for two at the Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Spa resort, courtesy of Gooderson Leisure.

Every entrant also qualified for the lucky draw for an iPad Mini.

People who take the trouble to attend an exhibition – remembering that there are so many ways of purchasing products or services these days – expect to be entertained and educated.

There is far more movement and interactivity on stands, with the more formal layouts a thing of the past.

Many of the most popular stands at Euroshop used their spaces socially.

Visitors could sit down and relax, drink coffee and speak to the exhibitors.

In line with this trend, Scan Display teamed up with Grind Mobile Coffee at Markex Jhb, serving complimentary coffee and SA’s latest craze, Bubble Tea, to visitors.

I believe South Africans are generally innovative, creative and smart and that our exhibition and display industry often compares with the best in the world. The challenge is not to get complacent, but to reinvent constantly.

At Scan Display we are always striving for better, more efficient and sustainable ways of doing things, and we plan to continue making our mark on the exhibition industry and helping to introduce new trends.

Source : www.scandisplay.co.za

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