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Trade Show Trends: Top Tips for the 2024 Season

A Guide for Print Resellers

As we gear up for the 2024 trade show season, it's critical that savvy print resellers stay ahead of the trend curve. Your customers are counting on you to help make their trade show experiences memorable, effective, and relevant. Let's dive into some of the top trends and tips to ensure you're providing the best service and outcomes possible.

2024 Trade Show Exhibition Trends: A Print Reseller’s Perspective

Here are the emerging trends we’re seeing that are most relevant to your role as a print reseller:

  1. Rising Costs: A Reality Check
    First, let's talk about the unwelcome elephant in the room: rising production costs for both materials and labor. According to Tradefest, graphic design, production, and promotion should account for at least 10% of your budget, with exhibit design and construction taking another 11%. It's no secret that expenses around trade show participation are expected to keep climbing in 2024. However, this doesn't mean your customers have to compromise on quality. As a savvy print reseller, your role is to find trade printer partnerships that help keep costs down while still delivering top-notch products. It's all about smart materials sourcing and efficient, budget-stretching design.
  1. Customization Is Key
    Next, customization is more important than ever. Your clients want to stand out, and their visual brand identity (think colors, fonts, and design) is a proprietary toolbox. Encourage them to use concise, compelling messaging that directly addresses their customers’ pain points or aspirations. A well-branded booth and sharp collateral can make a significant impact on booth visitors.
  1. AI: The Printer’s Newest Secret Weapon
    Speaking of compelling messaging and design, let's talk for a minute about AI, because it ranks in the top 5 for several trade show trend-spotters. AI tools can help your clients get creative while keeping costs in check. A print reseller offering use of AI tools during a planning meeting can be a great selling point for those customers looking to make a big impact with a smaller investment. There are better options than ever when it comes to brainstorming quick design ideas and copy — especially for those on a tight budget or schedule. 

4 Budget-friendly AI Tools for Print Resellers:

  1. A monthly subscription to the powerful ChatGPT4 is less than $25 (ChatGPT 3.5, while not quite as robust, is free). Not only is ChatGPT4  helpful for generating clever headlines and solid copy, that subscription also includes access to an AI image generator, DALL-E.

  2. Step up in AI image generation quality with DALL-E2; access starts at just $15 per month.

  3. Another solid AI image-generating tool is Midjourney. Its specialty is creating realistic AI imagery, and usage starts at just $10.

  4. In addition to its solid general design tools, Canva also offers a little AI image editing magic. Plan prices are by level: free/$15/$30.

Sustainability: The New Standard

Sustainability isn't just a trend; it's becoming an imperative. More and more companies have set green KPIs or taken very public stances around sustainability. They have to walk the walk, so they need eco-friendly options for both booth and collateral materials. As a print reseller, offering sustainable, recycled choices will not only appeal to your environmentally conscious customers, but also show that you're a forward-thinking partner — bonus!

4 Ways to Help Print Customers With Trade Shows

As a print reseller, your goal is to create satisfied, loyal customers. Whether your print clients are new at creating a trade show presence or have done it for years, here are some tips to help them succeed:

  1. Encourage Early Planning
    Time is of the essence! Encourage your clients to start planning early. This allows for more flexibility in design, production, and shipping, and can also help in managing costs more effectively.

  2. Help Maximize Budgets
    Your expertise can be a game-changer in helping clients maximize their budgets. Offer cost-effective solutions that don't skimp on quality and product bundles that are a win-win for you and your customers. Suggesting materials that are both durable and affordable or advising on design choices that have a big impact without a big price tag are both excellent options as well.

  3. Offer Eco-Friendly Choices
    Given the growing demand for sustainability, make sure you have eco-friendly options in your portfolio. This includes stock made from recycled materials, and partnering with a trade printer who is using sustainable printing processes such as reducing waste.

  4. Bridge Print and Digital Strategies
    At today’s trade shows, a synergy between print and digital is vital. Help your clients understand how they can integrate their print materials with digital platforms for a cohesive brand experience. A great way to bridge this gap effectively is to incorporate creatively designed, colorful QR codes into booth graphics and collateral materials.


Ready to Tackle Print Projects for the 2024 Trade Show Season?

As the post-COVID trade show rebound continues, this year promises to be an exciting time. By staying informed about these trends and tips, you can position yourself as a valuable partner to your print customers. Remember, your success is tied to their success, so partner with 4over’s trade show expertise to craft plenty of win-win experiences.

Here's to a successful trade show season!

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