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The Magic of Events is Back

“It's a Kind of Magic”. Enigma checked out The Retail Technology show at the Olympia Exhibition Hall in central London in April.

As expected, there were more self service checkouts, product inventory systems, e-commerce platforms and AI powered digital signage screens that you could shake a payment terminal at.

However, one of the first things we noticed was that everything looked and worked a little bit better - it was like that organisers, exhibitors and delegates had all learned from the pandemic times and had made small improvements and tweaks that, when put together, had improved the whole event experience.

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One of the most striking sights was the juxtaposition of Olympia’s ornate Victorian-era metal architecture (built in 1886) and a huge banner hanging from it emblazoned with “The Magic Of Retail is Here” with the thoroughly modern trade show floor spread out below.

It was a contrast of striking opposites - and certainly, the whole event did seem quite magical. Why? Simply put, that first morning at the 2024 Retail Technology Show was absolutely packed.

The badge pick up may have been slick and simple, but just getting around the show was like trying to negotiate the M25 during peak rush hour. And it wasn't just the delegates stopping to catch up with old colleagues and friends in the main thoroughfare - it was the sheer volume of people present, who were also stopping in the middle of every thoroughfare!


The 400+ exhibiting companies were represented by global powerhouses, such as Mastercard, Toshiba and Fujitsu, with their impressive exhibition stands, right down to compact 2x2m booths - but everywhere there was a buzz regardless of the size of the stands.

There were lots of smiles, lots of handshakes, lots of laughs and even in this post-pandemic world, quite a few hugs going on. It was great to see, and it’s good to remember why there will always be a place for in person events. They create real magical moments such as:

Stronger connections: Face-to-face interaction allows for better relationship building, establishing trust and creating a more memorable and dynamic experience.

Enhanced networking: In-person events provide a natural environment for exchanging ideas and making connections. It's easier to strike up conversations, and leave a lasting impression than through any online platform.

A more interactive experience: The ability to move around, participate in live demonstrations and interact with speakers in real-time fosters a more dynamic learning environment.

Building a community: In-person events can create a stronger sense of community among delegates and colleagues. Shared experiences, group activities and the chance to connect with like-minded people is so valuable.

 But we picked up on one other insight too: at about 2PM the show went noticeably quieter and all the pubs, restaurants and bars within a mile radius became packed to the rafters.

A lot of people seemed to be enjoying themselves and refreshing old friendships and making new contacts. It seemed to be an efficient mindset of, “I’ve done what I came to do at the show” so there was no need to hang about!

Perhaps they need to change the wording of the banner: “The Magic of Live Events is Here”.

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Enigma creates award-winning custom builds for events, trade shows, 3D exhibitions, museums, interiors and more, bringing effective design solutions to physical and digital spaces. If you'd like to find out more about our work and how we can help with your exhibition needs, book a free consultation here.