Helping you think - The Future of Convention Center Design
Associate Principal, Robert Svedberg discusses the future of Convention + Exhibition design
Information overload and social networking are two megatrends that are converging to make meetings and conventions more important and to change convention centers as we know them.
As the dizzying volume of information grows exponentially online, conventions, trade shows, and meetings will become essential for filtering, sorting, and making sense of the vast quantities of information available. Meetings will become a primary way to personalize the avalanche of information and generate meaningful experiences and relationships.
Venues that offer authentic experiences unique to their location will continue to have a competitive advantage. This gives smaller markets a way to compete, if they can let attendees
experience something new and authentic. Facilities located in activity clusters will excel. Venues and events that contribute to a broader purpose through sustainability, community involvement, and doing good will attract Gen Y-ers and Millennials, who judge each personal act by how it makes the world a better place.
Technology will allow attendees to filter information not just by time (scheduled seminars) and location (meeting rooms/booth locations), but also by solutions, topics, problems, concerns, and opportunities. Instead of just walking the grid of booths, people will use handheld technology to create their own pathways and link up with others with similar interests for informal exchanges. Exhibitors who can monitor and plug into this solutions network will be able to focus their efforts and messages on these informal networks on and off the exhibit floor.
To respond to these trends, impersonal and generic spaces will be replaced by multiple casual and intimate spaces with distinctive personalities and experiences. Grand architectural gestures will become important, not only as destinations, but to link together more intimate gathering spots and help orient visitors by visual connection back to vibrant urban surroundings.
Exhibit spaces will feel less like isolated black boxes and more like continuations of the public spaces that draw attendees and exhibitors together. Attendees will flow more casually between exhibits, intimate social spaces, learning, networking, and events, while venue spaces will be distinctive yet flexible to accommodate a wide variety of user-programmed activities.