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CES 24: How AI Will Revolutionize Trade Shows & Experiential Marketing

It’s the start of a new year! The time when we return from holiday break, after relaxing and disconnecting for at least a few days. January also brings CES, the largest consumer electronics show on the planet. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been preparing the stage for CES over the last few weeks, including the activation of thousands of digital experiences to wow attendees and make a memorable brand experience.  

In 2023, we started to see the introduction of AI (Artificial Intelligence) at CES, with brands like BMW, LG, and Samsung expanding the capabilities of their personal assistants to help us at work, at home, while we drive and more. Alexa and Google Home devices have been around for a few years now, but the next generation of these devices has a larger promise - to integrate with other devices and solutions to help predict our needs and to not only react to our commands but learn from our habits and daily routines to anticipate our needs and present us with solutions before we even ask.  

In 2024, we expect to see an AI renaissance with solutions beyond our imagination. Most technology companies are making significant investments into AI development, including Google, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Any brand that wants to stay relevant in any industry will have to integrate AI solutions, sharing data and solving problems for everyone.  

I’m really excited about the evolution of experiential marketing and AI. As we attract attendees to trade shows, events, conferences, and curated experiences, we need to stay on top of experiential technology that provides a meaningful experience. Trade shows are an important channel to prototype and activate new technology because of the exposure to thousands of attendees that go to a variety of shows, from mining to banking and finance, technology, healthcare, pharma, and many others. At trade shows, attendees can experience innovative technology firsthand and brands can learn about their experiences and gather information, data and feedback that helps them streamline products for their target audience. Think of innovative products in the past like Google Glass, VR, AR, and Touchscreens - all these were first launched at trade shows like CES. New technologies receive attention not only from attendees but also from investors, incubators, press, advocates, and others that influence the decision-making process on what’s next for a product and/or company.  

This is why CES is so important for experiential marketing and digital solutions. We’ll see many new technologies, as we do every year, and with that comes innovation, integration, investment, and new solutions for our clients, and ideally, a cost reduction by implementing digital within a booth.  

When a client comes to us at Skyline, we always start with asking “why”. We first understand their brand, their products and solutions, and overall strategy in the market. Then we develop a digital strategy on how technology will support their goal, whether it’s revenue generation, brand awareness, product launches, or others.  

Skyline adopts emerging technologies so we can craft solutions for our customers, and CES provides the perfect opportunity to experience them firsthand. Our digital team then integrates them into our repertoire of digital solutions to support our customers and their brands. Last year, Skyline launched eight digital solutions and our clients have had proven success with these technologies, all influenced by trends that we saw at CES 2023.  

Why Unique and Curated Experiences are Important 
With the introduction of AI, our world demands customization now more than ever. We need to really understand brands and how they can captivate attendees’ attention and create thought-provoking experiences that make a lasting impression on people’s minds. Do you know how many experiences it takes for a person to remember your brand? At least six impressions, six experiences where they interact with your brand in one way or another.  

Content is king and queen. Influencers are continually creating customized content because we all need something unique that makes us feel good. That’s the key - making your audience feel good. I’ll remember a feeling - when I drive a BMW, I can select my own seat position, my temperature preference to heat up my seat, and my favorite music to play depending on the time of the day. This is one example of how brands are creating custom experiences.  

Now, migrate that unique experience to trade shows, conferences, and events. We need to anticipate what our attendees expect from us because we’re not all the same and we have different preferences and want to experience things in different ways - visual, tactile, aroma, taste. We curate unique experiences by understanding our audience’s demographics, locations, interests, needs, and problems to solve. We strive to match that demand by curating in-person, hands-on experiences and layering digital solutions on top of that. Attendees want to experience in person and digital environments because we are all different, which means we cater to different generations and demographics.  

Last month I was in London for the holidays and saw experiential activations all over town. Especially during the holiday season, brands tap into people’s emotions and nostalgia by creating experiences that make them feel good, remember their childhood and the holidays, the Christmas trees, the smell of peppermint cocoa, fresh baked cookies, pastries and culinary specialties for the season. And you get to experience this everywhere - from the stores on Old Bond Street with lighting and music activations from Chanel, Cartier, Christian Dior, and more. People come from all around the globe to hotels, like Claridge’s, just to see their Christmas display with dozens of trees decorated with blinking lights and larger-than-life Louis Vuitton trunks branded with Claridge’s London logo. These activations capture people’s attention by transporting them to a happy time in childhood and evoking those feelings to make them want to come back for more. That’s how they will remember a brand.  


Gucci Cosmos Experience
Gucci did an especially curated exhibition during the holidays in London called Gucci Cosmos. It is the story of Guccio Gucci who worked in the early 1900s at the Savoy Hotel, operating the first elevator in human history. Observing elegant guests with their luggage, suitcases, and hat boxes, he understood the importance of an experience for them - the experience of craftsmanship, quality, and beautiful design. Not to simplify Guccio’s story, but that’s basically how he came up with the idea to go back to Italy, where he was originally from in Florence, and create curated leather goods for a high-end clientele, the type of clientele that stays at the Savoy. And that’s how the Gucci brand was born. An experience of quality and design.  

At Gucci Cosmos, the attendee travels through an immersive experience that includes physical and digital experiences. From curating leather goods representing each decade since Gucci’s inception, to the implementation of large LED screens where digital artwork, animated projection mapping and touchscreens allow the user to navigate more content. It was a well-crafted execution and it catered to different personalities, some gravitating more towards the leather goods and the history of Gucci, others to immersing in a dark room with projection mapping of running horses going through exquisite designs of clothing. Talk about a full immersive experience!  


Where Gucci excelled was catering to different personas, offering a variety of experiences, and giving the attendee the freedom to explore at their own pace, like opening drawers in a teal-blue closet with archives from all the years that Gucci has been in business to better understand its history and the evolution of their designs. Also catering in an artistic way, with a rotating hutch-closet painted in red lacquer with drawers and doors self-opening randomly, showing jewelry, clothing, and luggage inside of these compartments. Combined with immersive music and playful lights, it made you feel like you were in a surreal dream, a kind of Salvador Dali interpretation, of what a closet should be.

How Will Experiential Marketing Evolve in 2024? 
This is always a great question to ask right before CES. And the answers can vary in many ways. Personally, I don’t want to get ahead of myself with any predictions for this new year. However, it’s obvious that AI will take center stage as the emerging technology, including integration with marketing, experiential, and trade shows. I’m excited and curious to start working with AI more and find custom solutions for our clients. At Skyline, we already started planning a few integrations internally with our HubSpot marketing systems and client-facing experiences, enhancing our current solutions to elevate their impact by integrating data, information and automation. To learn more about our digital solutions, visit skyline.com/digital.