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The first modern trade show, as we know it, took place on May 1, 1851. On this date, The Great Exhibition was held at Hyde Park in Central London with the idea to display the best products in the world under one roof. This exhibition paved the way for many of the exhibitions, events, trade shows and conventions that we see today.

While many elements of trade shows may have changed since their beginning in 1851, the need for signage still remains. Without signage, event attendees would likely be lost, confused and frustrated.

These days, the introduction of digital signage has transformed the way signage is used as exhibitions. Offering practical solutions like room navigation and event schedules and interactive features such as real-time social media feeds and event photo opportunities, digital signage can be an important tool for improving attendee experience.

Here are 7 creative ways you can use digital signage to gain maximum impact at your next event.

Room navigation

Featuring 27 halls, 35 function rooms and standing at an impressive 5.3 million sq.ft, the Hanover Fairground in Germany is the largest exhibition venue in the world. Due to their huge size, exhibition venues can be overwhelming for attendees.

While paper signage and exhibition maps may help your attendees navigate rooms, they don’t display live updates of what is happening at each hour, minute or second of the event. With digital signage you can help improve event navigation for attendees by displaying real-time room information.

To help attendees find their way around your event and make sure they get to attend the sessions they want to, you can use digital signage to dynamically pull information from your event management software. You can then map your event schedule to digital display boards outside each room or hall to automatically let attendees know what session is currently active.

Dynamic event schedule

Alongside dynamic room display boards, you can also use digital signage as a dynamic event schedule board. Having digital signage displaying the full event schedule throughout your exhibition will further help attendees navigate your event with ease.

Unexpected schedule changes can occur at any event. From speaker cancellations to room changes, digital signage will make sure you are always displaying the most up-to-date event schedule. Opting for a dynamic event schedule over a printed schedule will be beneficial if you have to make any changes to the event schedule as any changes made will automatically be shown on the dynamic event schedule display.

Real-time social media feeds

Digital signage doesn’t just have to be used to display useful, navigational information about your event. You can use digital signage to encourage attendee engagement and interaction.

Most event organizers already understand the value of social media. With approximately 63% of Instagram users and 42% of Twitter users using these platforms on a daily basis, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get people talking about your exhibition online. So, how can you encourage people to share updates about your event on social media? The answer: use digital signage to display real-time social media feeds.

When organizing your event make sure you create a unique event social media hashtag. You can then use digital signage to showcase a real-time live feed of tweets, Instagram posts, photos, and comments curated from your event’s social media hashtag. Your digital social media feed will then act as a visual reminder to encourage attendees to post on social media about the event. As a result, this will provide you with advertising and positive social proof for free. To encourage users to share online, you could also offer incentives such as prizes for the best tweet or you could ask speakers to ask attendees to submit questions through social media.

Competitive leaderboards

Event gamification is a great way to generate a buzz at your trade show. If you are looking to engage attendees or generate leads for event sponsors and brands, event gamification may be the marketing solution you’re looking for.

To increase the success of your event gamification, you can use digital signage to display a competitive leaderboard feed. You can use exhibition games like scavenger hunts to generate leads for your business by having attendees complete a form to gain access to the game. Event apps such as EventMobi can be used to create event games and display live leaderboards on a large screen.  When publicly displayed on a digital signage screen, competition leaderboards can drive healthy competition amongst event attendees encouraging them to participate in the game.

Live audience response results

If you are planning an event, it’s likely that talks and panels will form part of your event schedule. To keep your attendees interested during talks and panels, you can use an audience response system (ARS). Using an ARS, event speakers can engage their audience in real-time to bring event speakers and attendees closer together. Audience participation apps such as EngageNow allow the audience to ask questions, complete quizzes and answer polls during the speaker presentation. The speaker or panellists can then display these audience responses in real-time using digital signage.

By using digital signage to display live audience response results, you can facilitate audience participation, get the room talking and create a buzz at your event.

Brand sponsorship messaging and advertisements

76% of exhibitors will integrate their event attendance with their other marketing campaigns, Therefore, if you are hosting an exhibition, your event sponsors and exhibitors will likely want to maximise their visual impact through advertising.

Switching from static advertiser banners and posters to digital signage can skyrocket the impact of advertising messaging. By switching to digital signage your advertisers can submit interactive ad formats such as videos and animations. With digital signage you can also display multiple exhibitor advertisements throughout the day by using a carousel format to scroll through different exhibitor images and videos.

Event photo opportunities

Everyone loves having the opportunity to snap a selfie! You can set up digital signage displays to be used as photo backdrops for attendees. These event photo opportunities can then be delivered as a two-fold marketing strategy with your live social media feeds by encouraging attendees to share their event photo online using your social media hashtag.

As well as using digital signage as a backdrop for photo opportunities, you can then automatically display captured photos on display screens around your exhibition to show attendee participation. Your photo backdrop could be branded with your exhibition branding or you could use it as an advertising opportunity for exhibitors to display their branding.