Before we proceed with the tips for designing common areas of fairs and congresses, let’s define what the common areas actually are. They are spaces destined to satisfy the collective needs of the attendees. For example, networking and meeting places, lounge and chill areas, seating stands and bleachers, the so-called gardens or exterior areas, charging points for mobile devices, and magazine stands among others. They can be organised separately, although sometimes they can be mixed up in one single space creating different combinations. In any case, it’s quite important to spend time and resources designing these areas and giving them a fresh creative solution, as they are a fundamental part of the customer experience.
And here we must make an important point. Every tradeshow or congress has its own peculiarities, and it’s fairly impossible to categorize all the configurations you may encounter. However, there’s one thing we know for sure. The common areas are either managed by the event organisers themselves (hence, designed in accordance with the event’s graphic identity). Or they are subject to sponsorship (hence, graphically customized with the sponsors’ identity).
“It’s important to adapt our design and creative solutions to each event.“
Besides, the number of attendees may vary in different event editions depending on the budgets, goals, and marketing strategies of the participating brands. This directly influences the surface available for common areas. It means that we should adapt and scale our design and creative solutions to each particular case.
Again, it may seem obvious, but in order to deliver the best design, it’s crucial to bear in mind the space’s main function.
For example, the networking areas are highly functional. And although they can have multiple configurations, we must give priority to the elements that would make the attendees’ experience more comfortable. A good solution would be using high tables and stools, or long tables with a lot of separate seats. Besides, we have to definitely offer charging points for smartphones and laptops. By the way, these points have become an absolute must. So, the rule today is to put a USB port or a socket in any inch of spare space. It will certainly have success.
Lounge areas, seating stands and gardens, on the contrary, are more comfortable spaces created for chill and relax. So, what better works there are low tables and puffs. Besides, a newspaper display, food stand or truck will create a more relaxed atmosphere.
By the way, the same tips apply not only to fairs and congresses, as the common areas are very important for any event.
Modular and reusable design from the constructive point of view definitely beats the ad hoc solutions. On one hand, it can save us time and money, but what’s even more attractive is that it’s far more sustainable. And besides, far from limiting our creativity, this sustainable mindset will push us to explore new materials and integrate new and more natural elements more common for landscape design (as opposite to the hi tech trends that are becoming increasingly obsolete), like plants, wood and, why not, water.
The boom of social media and constant exposure to all types of information has created in in us, the Homo Conexus, the deceptive feeling of being always aware of everything and present everywhere. The consequence of this feeling is so-called FOMO, the fear of missing out, or our reluctance to miss anything of what happens around.
“Installing screens or other elements in common areas can promote the interconnectivity.“
So, in order to satisfy people’s cravings to take the maximum advantage of the visit, it’s highly recommendable to promote the interconnectivity of the space. How? By installing in common areas screens and other elements that will inform the attendees, either with ads or live, of what is happening or is scheduled in other parts of the venue.
It’s been long since we are used to bidirectional communication with the brands we consume and the companies we interact with. So, the last but not least of the tips for designing common areas of fairs and congresses is collecting the attendees’ feedback. It’s vital for introducing improvements to provide a more professional and rewarding experience.
Take advantage of more relaxed common areas, like lounges and gardens, to conduct satisfaction surveys and collect improvement input, both proactively with the help of staff, and by means of touch screens or other devices.
All in all, although every tradeshow or congress has its own peculiarities, there is one common element, and it’s the need to be creative and innovative when it comes to the design of the common areas.
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