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Bear Analytics (@BearAnalytics) asked me to write a blog post for them from the perspective of a “Millennial”. To be honest, up until recently I was pretty positive that I was a Gen Y kid, but it sounds like I missed the renaming ceremony.

I was lucky enough to grow up in the age of emerging technology. I still remember the first time I used the internet for a school report.  I used to go months without dialing in to my email service, and now I can’t imagine how business could survive without it. I scoffed at things like Twitter, and now I am the self appointed social media coordinator at my company. I like to think that this gives us “millennials”  a really unique view on technology and trends.

I’ve been attending trade shows since college, and through my company I attended an average of 5 tradeshows a year, either as vendor support, or as an exhibitor.  I’ve seen a lot of trends rise, and some fall really flat. Here are some of my favorites from over the years, and what I hope to see in the future.

First and foremost, I think the award for most helpful tech innovation in the past 5 years has been the mobile app. It’s a tool that benefits attendees, exhibitors, and show management. I remember my first year working at our trade show. One of my tasks was to run booth appointments across a show floor with 500+ booths. I remember carrying my show guide, cell phone, all the papers, and a water bottle. I ended up with 5 sheets for exhibitors that I just could not locate.

Since there were no chairs, I ended up sitting on the floor trying to find the map in the show guide, or access the online floor plan (without cell service). In short- I was a hot mess. The next year we got an app and I was able to minimize my load, and anytime I missed an exhibitor I just stepped to the side, looked it up and headed on my way. It’s the first time I remember actually appreciating the phrase “there’s an app for that”.

Whenever I attend a show that has a “tech stop”, I’m always intrigued. PCMA’s 2014 show had the best set up that I have seen so far—they did 10-15 presentations on a variety of subjects, and they also had industry experts to help you learn Evernote, create an Instagram account, set up Twitter, or ask any questions that have been burning in your mind.

These are amazing resources for anyone that needs a boost, or to start from scratch. Show organizers need to at least know the basics of these applications so they can keep up with the ways their show and their marketing is growing. The more they know, the more control they feel.

PCMA’s tech stop also featured a very interesting little robot. It was an iPad with facetime on, attached to a mini Segway-esque scooter, reminiscent of Sheldon’s invention on the Big Bang Theory. It was from a tech company, and I’m assuming it allows people to speak with an expert who may not be able to attend. It was definitely cool looking, though its usefulness is undetermined. It had to have an escort, and I didn’t love crouching down to look it in the face. I have high hopes for it in the future though.

Instant polling is another great innovation that I wish more shows would look in to. I find that so many speakers talk at the audience, instead of really engaging them. Don’t get me wrong—it’s hard to interact with 100+ audience members, but by asking our opinions during the session, the audience can help direct the conversation.

Bonus points if I can ask my question through the polling piece as well. That way the speaker can tailor the conversation to what we really need to know.

Heat mapping and geo-locating are fairly new technologies that have the potential to really impact the show industry. Having the floor traffic at your show recorded each day, down to the booth level, gives you some of the best metrics out there. You can actually see what was most popular at any given time, and hopefully you can infer why. This kind of data, when used correctly, could revamp shows in their entirety.

I could go on forever about existing technology, and technology that I wish existed, but for now I will leave you with this: Technology isn’t going anywhere.

Remember: Not everyone will be at the same level, but you should be embracing it all the same. If we can do that, before too long we’ll all have hovercrafts.

Kiki Janssens

You can reach me at kiki@core-apps.com (@Core-Apps) or on twitter @janssk