The world of live events continues to evolve at a healthy pace, with brands keen to adopt the latest trends in materials, design and build in their campaigns. So much can change in twelve months, so what’s on the cards for 2018?

Something that’s been very much on the mind of event professionals in 2017 is return on investment. The ROI of a live event remains a hot topic and we very much expect that to be at the forefront of live event campaigns in 2018. In this article the Identity live events team shares its thoughts on what to expect next year, including exhibitions, conferences and experiential marketing.


Augmented Reality With “Smart Windows”

Augmented reality has been a buzz phrase in the exhibition industry for some time but has often been problematic for brands to tie into their installations in an effective way. We expect AR solutions to be more on-point in the coming year, and one excellent implementation is the use of a smart box. This clever bit of kit works by placing a product into a styled cabinet, and an LCD transparent colour display lets people see right through the glass “window” and see the item, which is illuminated by bright LED lighting at the back. Bespoke digital content is then displayed on the LCD screen, which can have touch functionality, to enhance the experience. It’s a dynamic, innovative option for exhibitors looking to promote their products in a live environment.

Eco Friendly Materials And Practices

We are all increasingly conscious of the potential for waste at exhibitions and it is very important to offer environmentally friendly solutions. In 2018 (and beyond) we will see reusable and recyclable materials featuring more and more as companies look to further reduce their carbon footprint.

Flexible LCD Touch Screens

Royole’s patented flexible display technology should quickly find its way to user engagement zones making organically shaped areas interactive. Flexible displays offer many advantages over conventional display technology. It’s ultra-thin, lightweight, bendable, portable, shatter-proof, unbreakable and low energy, and we expect this to have profound implications for exhibitors in the months to come.

Visitor Experience

Technology has played a key role in exhibition stand design for many years, but it’s only recently that event professionals are really thinking about how to make the best use of tech within their stands. In 2018 we would look for a deeper integration of the journey of self-discovery for visitors being built directly into stand designs. The technology will (and should) be used to aid this journey, rather than simply being used to make a statement, or add a bit of razzamatazz.


Keep it Simple

In 2018 we believe you will see a greater focus on the core objectives of delivering a conference, placing a greater emphasis on achieving the outcomes and always assessing ways to improve engagement, rather than just focusing on the ‘wow’ factor.

Border Control And Policy Changes

Border control and travel restrictions may heighten again in 2018 and the knock-on effect will impact attendees ease of movement, but also on staffing for hospitality and hotels.


Be prepared to see increases of five percent or more in airfares to North and South America. Although group bookings and agencies can go a long way in securing great prices, ensure you have factored in an increase within your budgets for 2018.


It is an obvious one, but trends are showing that there will be an increased use of technology at meetings this year to improve communication with delegates, keeping contacts up-to-date and making the process of interaction simpler.

Experiential Marketing


Don’t underestimate the power of passion! If there’s one thing left that we all hold dear to our hearts, it’s our individual taste in music and the way that it makes us feel. Brand association with bands and artists is far from a new concept, but this area of consumer engagement will rapidly develop in 2018 with a focus on festival sponsorship by use of crowd metric analysis tech. Will this be the next big thing or just another flash in the festival frying pan? Only trial will tell and we’re looking forward to seeing the results.

Experience At Home

With the shift continuing to move from shopping centre retail sales to online from the comfort of a couch, brands will look to engage with individuals within this space, offering an experience that is personal and targeted to consumers by use of big data. A risky move it may be, but this is the natural next milestone for brand engagement.

Engagement Analysis

Experiential activity hinges on creativity to achieve an unforgettable experience. And with any new creative concept comes risk. While it has always been extremely difficult to measure the effect of primary and secondary engagements, these important metrics must be quantified accurately in order to assure the success of an individual activation. Will 2018 be the year that technology generates a reliable method of evaluating brand engagement? Let’s keep our eyes peeled but not hold our breath just yet.

Story Telling > Social Media

For over a decade now, creative concepts have been penned with the measurement for success being shares, likes and retweets due to its undeniable reach. But, with the value, longevity and overall strength of the concept of “viral” being diluted with time, what is the future value of social networking within the live event space? Peer to peer marketing remains one of the strongest ways to build relationships and even brand awareness, and the best brands will be utilising the power of telling stories to engage their audiences and create a unique, memorable experience.

For more information on how we can help with your live events strategy in 2018, contact Identity today at 01323 469111 or email