As most designers know, we hit the ground running when the new year starts. No time to dwell on the engaging projects of the past, but only time to study what’s hot for the upcoming year. Design trends for 2012 continue to focus on lightweight structures balanced with A/V, lighting and green materials. But don’t be fooled, some of the fastest moving design trends are those that incorporate traffic builders as part of the pull-through strategy.

I’ve gathered four helpful tips exclusively for Defying Convention followers that can be incorporated into your exhibit as early as spring:

1. Power charging stations: This is a low-cost, effective strategy that almost guarantees attendee-representative engagement. The idea is simple. Attendees need to charge their smartphones and smartbooks, and you have a new inviting “relax and recharge” area in your exhibit.

**Note: Be sure to carry all the latest adapters such as Android, iPhone and iPad. The last thing you want is a disgruntled attendee who can’t charge because you don’t have the right adapter.

2. Apps: Smart exhibitors are using “smart apps” to extend the show. Whether the app revolves around a product or the company itself, it needs to include tangible benefits that the attendee can use long after the show. Successful apps incorporate navigational tools to help find products in the field, contact information for quick access to information or hardcore details of a particular product or service that attendees will use and better yet pass onto others.

**Note: Having a viral app that gets into the hands of one attendee and then grows exponentially is invaluable.

3. Digital tablets: Are you sitting on lots of content like PDFs or videos that help describe your company’s products and services?  Digital tablets are the perfect medium to relay information to attendees.  By using the tablet’s camera and incorporating quick reference codes (QR codes), attendees can reveal engaging videos or other information that can be entertaining and informative.

**Note: Tablets are an easy-to-use device for reviewing things like training videos or searching detailed content.

4. E-literature: Are you trying to cut back or are flat-out tired of bringing tons of literature to the show? Creating a digital resource center in your exhibit can make a huge difference. Incorporating multiple mini kiosks allows you maximum flexibility from your biggest to smallest shows.

** Note: E-literature allows attendees to forward this information to themselves and others giving you added impact and data beyond the show floor.

These interactive trends support your existing exhibit and have the ability to “scale” technology to enhance your smallest and largest events. Will you use any of these 2012 design trends for your next exhibit? Let’s chat about design and creativity on our Facebook wall or email me at EAhearn@ges.com.

Are you attending EXHIBITOR 2012? If so, I'll be presenting on International design and it's influence on our future design trends. Feel free to learn more about this and my other sessions here!