The use of technology can make a real difference to both exhibitors and attendees at trade shows, it has been claimed. Writing for Business 2 Community, Denise Graziano, chief executive at Graziano Associates, said IT can be used to improve lead generation, sales and the customer experience.

"Technology has elevated the capabilities and levelled the playing field for event planners, exhibitors and attendees," she claimed. However, Ms Graziano said it is not just about lead capturing - it is about the attendee experience before, during and post-show.

"Efficient, targeted technology, that was previously limited to only large shows and big budget exhibitors, is now available for most exhibitors," she noted. Ms Graziano said this can be used to drive prequalified booth traffic and set appointments before the show, support conversations during the show at the booth and via social media, and reach out to attendees following the event in order to turn leads into sales.

She explained that there are now "affordable" technology options available for most exhibitors, including sophisticated, customisable lead tracking apps. "Many show organisers are moving away from lead retrieval devices and toward mobile apps," Ms Graziano stated. "Another trend catching on is the ability to sync leads collected to the exhibiting company’s customer relationship management system via the internet."

In her view, the use of touchscreen devices such as tablets, which can support interactive presentations, is helping exhibitors reach out to trade show attendees. Ms Graziano added that, in many cases, projectors are being replaced with video walls and 3D/holography. And this can make the content more engaging for customers.

She noted that social media provides a great platform for promoting trade shows and informing people that businesses are going to be in attendance. Ms Graziano said companies can use networking sites to send targeted messages, which can help generate excitement and increase attendance on the day.