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Exhibition trends for 2021 you need to know about

19th September 2016
Interior of Senate House Exhibition Space

Exhibition trends always seem to develop and evolve constantly as events organisers and companies strive to offer new and exciting ways to enhance the customer experience. Whether this is a trade show, a convention, product showcase or other, your method of presentation is everything as it reflects your grasp on innovation, presentability and attention to detail. 

Companies who are constantly at the forefront of new exhibition trends, technological or visual, tend to gain a reputation as forward thinking with ears to the ground. This is a great reputation to have as an exhibiting company but being on the cutting edge of exhibition trends can give your products more dimension and allow users a greater experience.

What will exhibitions in 2021 look like?

There will be a massive shakeup for all trade shows and exhibitions in 2021 due to the legacy of COVID-19. Although the end of 2020 saw a glimmer of hope in the form of small-scale vaccination roll-outs, the events and conference industry is not expected to snap back to old ways any time soon. 

The rise of hybrid exhibitions 

Hybrid exhibitions are going to be widely used in 2021 thanks to the general rise in popularity of hybrid events. The concept combines both virtual and physical ways to view and interact with an exhibition whether this is in the arts or corporate world. Hybrid exhibitions are all about the half virtual and half physical. This could mean a normal exhibition taking place with exhibitors present and distanced but without physical attendees. This would be where a blend of digital elements would be woven in to make remote viewing possible eg. multi-angle cameras and interactive chats.

Online trade shows will increase in popularity 

Online trade shows and virtual expos have exploded in little under nine months with the relative success of these digital alternatives being very promising. As the need grows for industries to remain connected and engaged with prospects, companies have opted to embrace digital. Vfairs for instance is a perfect example of just how sophisticated online trade show set-ups can be. Virtual spaces, interactive showcases and even brand customisable virtual booths are all just a sliver of what the next generation of digital events platforms are offering right now. 

Exhibition trends in 2021: Getting ready  

COVID-19 has propelled the events industry towards virtual and digital platforms quicker than imagined. It now means that in order to be successful you need to pay attention to making your exhibitions and shows as realistic, interactive and forward thinking as possible. The reality is that we are facing a big shift in the way trade shows, conferences and exhibitions will be run, consumers will expect a high standard of experience and those exhibitors that don’t reach this will likely not last long. For those that adapt and thrive the rewards will be significant. So what is going to be the way forward in 2021?

Gamification at virtual exhibitions

To really make an impact in 2021, find out how to gamify your exhibition stands. In the naturally competitive environment of a trade show or exhibition, grabbing and keeping the attention of visitors is key. Gamification will help give you that edge! From a virtual point of view gamification is an untapped goldmine that can assist in making your event more profitable and enjoyable for your online attendees. In a recent article we talked about the rise of hybrid events and how one of the benefits is the opportunity to collect attendee behavioural data whilst also capitalising on sponsorship opportunities. Gamification can be used to supercharge these benefits. For instance you could design gamification strategies to entice user interaction with a certain exhibit for a prize. You could then sell these special “gamified” slots as part of a premium package to exhibitors willing to pay. 


To further encourage user/brand contact, you could employ a touch screen game, such as a puzzle that reveals the company’s newest product or a quiz about the company. This way you build awareness, impart useful information and let people have fun at the same time. Any way to engage a visitor and leave them with a sense of enjoyment will prove successful in brand awareness and word of mouth recommendations too.


Gamification can also be employed as a networking catalyst. For instance you could design a reward for interacting with a certain number of attendees for a set time. Many online hybrid platforms like Whova allow for attendee-to-attendee networking where requests can be sent to anyone on the attending list. In terms of your exhibition, more networking outcomes for attendees means more added value and likely chance of a return.   

Augmented reality at hybrid exhibitions

Add an additional fun tech element to your exhibition by using augmented reality. A relatively new technology to enter the mainstream (hello Pokemon Go!), this is a great way to inspire your audience and set you apart from competitors. If you’re displaying or launching products at your exhibition, augmented reality could be a particularly powerful tool to keep people at your stand. See how Tesco have harnessed the power of augmented reality through their ‘Home Book’ app for inspiration. Augmented reality is the overlay of a computer-generated graphic on a real world environment. It’s an innovative way to spark engagement with your brand. For example, you could turn your company logo into a trigger, which is activated when those using an app point at the correct spot. This gives you the ability to showcase products or promotions, with the feeling of exclusivity.

As a technology it encourages creativity and outside the box thinking. 

Apps – periscope

The Periscope app is a fantastic way to add even more exposure to your exhibitions. You can allow people unable to attend to experience highlights of the exhibition.

A live video streaming platform, bought by Twitter, Periscope is a great way to transmit a live recording to non-attendees. It’s interactive too, meaning that whilst you’re broadcasting, they can comment and you can respond.

You can create unique video content wherever you are, extending engagement far beyond the exhibition hall.

Trends in exhibition stall design for 2021

Classic design trends will continue to be very important in 2021 as not all exhibitions will be completely virtual. In the case of hybrid exhibitions, stands and their occupiers will likely still be physically present even if the audience is not. This means projecting a well refined visual aesthetic remains essential. 


Styles, shapes and layouts of exhibition stands are constantly changing. Keep ahead of the crowd by utilising lighting for new and dramatic effects.  Use LED Lighting to save electricity and create amazing effects for a lot less money. You can use these to wow your visitors with different tones and timed light displays. Why not use some spotlights and coloured wash lights to create a captivating stand?

Curves and colours

Curved stands will add a unique and sophisticated feel to your exhibition stand in 2017. Softening the look of your stand, a curved aspect will automatically be more inviting, standing out from the other straight lines and angular stands. 

You could also use the curved effect to create a series of smaller pods, instead of one large stand. This will look more welcoming to potential customers. It also creates an intimate feeling, making interactions with potential customers feel more personal.

The best colour for your exhibition stand 2017 will be blue, a popular tone for this year. Blue is more alluring than black, but still retains a sophisticated and smart feel. Alternatively, play it safe and opt for black, great as an understated but decisive tone.

Sustainable Stand Design

Exhibitions and trade shows will be moving more and more towards complete sustainability in 2017. Sustainable exhibition stands are a key part of this trend.

Carefully consider how you can use your stand again in the future. The more customised the stand, the less likely it can be used again.  Also, opt for stands made from re-usable and recyclable material. Making modular stands is a great choice, because these can be repurposed for other events.

University of London Venues -  Exhibition space in central London

University of London Venues comprises three of the most stylish exhibition venues in west London. From the grand theatre setting of Beverage hall to the Macmillan Hall, Chancellor’s Hall and Foyer and Crush Hall, the options are endless. Centrally located in the leafy district of Bloomsbury, it’s easy to access, with great transport links. We have a dedicated in house events team to help your exhibition run smoothly. With a selection of elegant rooms and breakout spaces, Senate House is a unique and practical exhibition space. 

Combining period style with 21st century technology, our venues provide additional exhibition services too, such as furniture hire, photography and insurance to ensure your exhibition is a success.  Find out more about using University of London Venues as an exhibition space.

Contact us for help with all your venue enquiries on: 020 7862 8127 or fill out our enquiry form.




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