Dear Exhibitors – Attendees Would Like to See You at Shows

October 31, 2021

Rachel Wimberly

Rachel Wimberly is Executive Vice President of Business Development at Tarsus Group, US. Follow her on Twitter @TSNN_Rachel.

As the trade show industry started coming back to life over the summer and everyone collectively held their breaths hoping beyond hope that the attendees would show up – something very unexpected happened.

The attendees arrived in force – ready to buy and in good numbers – but what actually was missing in a lot of cases were the exhibitors.

We all know marketing budgets were slashed and the uncertainty around whether attendees would be at a show or not, along with some corporate travel bans, all are reasons exhibitors may not have been on the floor.

But – we need to help them understand what they are really missing out on, so they don’t continue to make the mistake of waiting on the sidelines.

For example, I was speaking with a venue manager recently who told me an interesting story about a show that’s in his building.

It’s a show that brings in a big group of product manufacturers in a specific retail sector and the attendees are owners of stores from the entire region who place annual orders.

The average exhibitor can book several million dollars in orders at the show, especially since many of the stores did not have the opportunity to check out products firsthand and buy them in the past 18 months.

The venue manager told me there were some exhibitors who didn’t come this year and others who were on hand had a great show and  told him:  ‘There is no way to replace that kind of money just making sales calls one by one.’

I completely agree and heard the same sentiment from an exhibitor at Tarsus Group’s Offprice show that ran in early August in Las Vegas.

The team that runs that show were nervous about how many attendees were going to be there. The doors opened, and the attendees showed up – in fact, more than 85% from the prior show in a non-pandemic time.

However, about half the exhibitors decided not to take a chance on the show.

As a result, though, the exhibitors who were there had a GREAT show since the attendees onsite were very motivated buyers and placed good orders.

In fact, one of the exhibitors told me it was ‘the best show he’s ever had’ and called a friend of his who usually exhibits at the show in front of me and told him – ‘You are really missing out!’

According to a recent survey conducted by Explori for UFI’s “Global Recovery Insights 2021” report, businesses queried have been unable to replicate the value of trade shows.

Sixty-six percent said they had ‘reduced networking opportunities’; 51% said their brand exposure still was being impacted; and 44% said they still had overall fewer leads being generated.

In the same survey, 72% of existing visitors said they plan to attend trade shows with the same or increased frequency in the future; 16% say they plan to attend much more frequently in the future; while only 4% of respondents fell into this category back in 2018.

In other words, the attendees may be signing up later than usual, so shows may not be able to tell exhibitors how many people exactly are going to be there several months out, but the attendees ARE coming, and they ARE buying - so don’t miss out!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact