Want Your Trade Show to Stay Relevant? Better Learn to Appeal to GenY!

Ever since I wrote my book, Build a Better Trade Show Image — ten years ago — I’ve been trying to convince both show managers and exhibitors that doing shows the same way won’t cut it anymore. If you look at the statistics for many expos (especially association shows), you’ll see the primary demographic is age 40-plus, with many averaging even age 50-plus. But if you want your show to stay alive, you better figure out how to reach the 20- and 30-somethings, and you better do it quick!

Technology is an obvious starting point. GenYs are never far from their handheld gadgets, and are using them in every aspect of their life. Here are just a few of the statistics listed in an article on The Next Web, which compiled data from several different studies on the tech habits of 13-24 year olds (the next generation of trade show exhibitors and attendees):

  • 62.7% of US undergraduates surveyed had an internet-capable handheld device
  • 76% spend over an hour on Facebook every day
  • 38% of students surveyed said they could not go more than 10 minutes without checking their digital device
  • 75% send over 20 text messages per day (15% send 200+ per day)
How are you using technology to reach out and connect to this younger market?
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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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