Convention centers pushing for outdoor space

Your custom trade show displays may look good in a crowded convention hall, but are they as effective in a different light? The New York Times recently reported on the way that convention centers are interested in expanding to include open outdoor areas.

Examples of this push can be seen in cities as diverse as Detroit and San Antonio, both of which are home to centers that have partnered with architecture firm Populous to create more dynamic outdoor spaces. These include terraces and parks that offer visitors the chance to escape the confines of hotel walls.

The source cites a number of benefits to more open convention layouts: They can connect closed-off buildings to their surroundings, spark new exhibitor interest and leave space for other outside businesses, like food vendors, to easily set up shop.

In addition, certain trade shows that center around outdoor industries benefit from having a more liberated space to set up in. One such case, the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show, was held earlier this month in Salt Lake City.

Populous senior principal Todd Voth told the Times that this approach to convention centers reflects the changing desires of attendees and hosts.

"Over the last few years, we've been hearing more and more from these people that conventioneers don't want to be locked in," he said. "I really think people that go to conventions are sick and tired of being stuck in a building all day."

Although it takes a serious investment to restructure buildings like this, the most recent Populous projects may set the trend for further similar endeavors. Small businesses should anticipate this by creating displays for trade shows that are appropriate for expanded, outdoor space.