Trade Shows Will Be Back – Here’s Why

August 24, 2020

Briquelle Neyens

Briquelle Neyens is a digital marketer at Skyline Exhibits’ corporate office in St. Paul, Minn. Besides immersing herself in trade show research and the ins and outs of exhibit sales, she also engages with Skyline’s wide-array of products and services from an insider’s perspective. She enjoys generating information to help trade show marketers be successful on the show floor.

As many activities and businesses have come to a screeching halt during the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve started to see some businesses allowed to slowly reopen, and eventually, many will be back up and running as usual. Restaurants will get back to full capacity for guests to dine-in, clothing stores will allow customers to come and go as they please, and fitness centers will give their members full access to all of their exercise equipment. However, what do these types of businesses have in common that trade shows don’t? They don’t require a vast amount of people to be gathered in an enclosed area to be successful.

The trade show industry will re-start slower than other industries.

We can assume that the event industry will be one of the hardest hit in the long run of this pandemic because they will be impacted for the longest period of time. While small stores and businesses reopen, events will not be able to function at the same rate because of the limits set on group gatherings. Many states are allowing different amounts of people to be present at group gatherings, but as time goes on, some are allowing 10 people maximum indoors, some 50, and some 250. However, none of these allowances are enough for a trade show to be executed successfully.

People may question if trade shows will ever return to having the traction they did before all of this began. They may ask, “Can’t businesses just continue with their virtual trade shows and online exhibiting efforts?” Although they could, they won’t. Trade shows and events may take some time to be back where they once were, but venues are doing everything in their power to make sure that they will get back to that place. Why?

Buyers will only feel comfortable making big purchase decisions when they can see and experience new products for themselves.

Yes, businesses can share all the qualities of their products on their website, social media pages, through email or even over the phone to a prospective buyer. But what they can’t do through any of those platforms is influence customers on an emotional level while providing an experience around their product that parallels their brand.

As marketing and advertising efforts continuously grow and improve, more and more products emerge, making differentiation difficult. For buyers who want to feel extremely confident in their buying decisions, experiential marketing will be a key factor in their decision-making.

Buyers expect to be able to see products in person to weigh their options and find the best fit, and if some businesses choose not to continue exhibiting, they may be left in the dust behind their competition. With nearly 50% of trade show attendees in executive or upper management, the value of these attendees makes it clear why continuing to exhibit at trade shows will be important for businesses who want to grow and continue building on current relationships.

The high level of brand engagement and relationship-building at trade shows is unmatched.

Engaging with a brand one-on-one, feeling heard, feeling immersed in the brand or feeling an emotional connection are all things that can only be felt through an in-person experience.

According to research from CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 99 percent of marketers said they found unique value from trade shows that they did not get from other marketing mediums. Sixty percent of exhibitors said they value the ability to see many prospects and customers at the same time; 51 percent said they value face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers, and 47 percent said they value the ability to meet with a variety of players face-to-face, such as customers, suppliers, resellers, etc.

No marketer wants to be left in the dust.

As virtual trade show platforms eventually wind down and event venues find their feet again, you can bet that businesses will be back in-action at these in-person events just as before the pandemic. Virtual trade shows are an acceptable substitute for the time being and are proving to be effective for many in getting their marketing message out right now. However, continuing to attend shows virtually while other companies get back out and make real-life connections would be comparable to throwing in the towel.

It’s unlikely for a business to be able to compete virtually with businesses that are willing to meet with prospective buyers in-person. So even though we have a way to go before health-safety guidelines are put in place at all venues and the world regains confidence in the safety of being in public, trade shows will eventually go on.

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust,  adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters,  it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing tradeshows and expositions.   At Mohegan Sun we have built an industry-leading COVID-19 Resource Center,  with a combination of pictures from recent successful events held since our reopening on June 1st,  along with several easy to share,  downloadable documents such as our Operati