Although many trade shows have been able to return in 2021, there is still an apparent road ahead to get back to normal in-person attendance. However, it’s important for exhibitors and trade show hosts to emphasize the unmatched experience that attendees will have when they attend in person to help get those numbers back up. Why?
Exhibitors and trade show hosts are able to create the best possible experience when they can control that experience.Trade shows, while for the time being given the current challenges with face-to-face marketing, have been able to get by with virtual and hybrid options, generally see their most success through the face-to-face interactions that physically occur inside their walls.
When an attendee comes to an event, they’re guided through an experience the entire time they are present; including what they see, how they’re treated, how they feel, and ultimately what they take away from their visit. As trade show hosts are obviously aiming for these to all be positive things, these feelings and experiences just cannot be equally as powerful or impactful when done through a screen.
As another example, successful exhibiting businesses often think through every touchpoint as well, from the first thing attendees see when they walk up to their booth to the friendly conversation that an attendee has with their trade show staff once they’re welcomed inside to the experiences that are provided to the way that they feel when they leave that booth.
When done well, these in depth, in-person experiences can take months to plan out. And while exhibitors and trade show hosts have been trying their best to put in the same effort with online options, the real-life event is where the expansive thought and effort is generally put. In the scenario of a hybrid event, it would be nearly impossible to have a successful online event if there isn’t first a successful in-person event taking place to build from. Therefore, for the attendees who truly want to get as much as possible out of a trade show, live and in-person is the place to do it.
Communication is more impactful when face-to-face.You probably saw this one coming, but it couldn’t be more true. This is especially important for B2B trade shows, as clients and buyers feel more comfortable and gain trust faster, making it much easier to do business. A Forbes article states, “[Many] clients express eagerness to return to face-to-face B2B events. They feel that they can generate more impactful business opportunities and better reach potential customers to market their products when they’re not communicating from behind a screen.” This high level of relationship-building is an in-person factor that can’t be replaced.
Just think about how easy it is to start building trust in someone when you are able to see them in person rather than speaking over the phone or through a screen. You can get a better feel for who they are, pick up on non-verbal cues, and create personal connections when speaking in person. Creating these organic connections is crucial for businesses to make sales as a majority of people prefer familiarity over unfamiliarity. Put simply, they would rather work again with someone they have met and created a relationship with already. That’s why getting attendees to trade shows is such a huge factor that is going to help all parties do business better.
The impact that travel and tourism have on in-person events helps businesses and communities thrive.Convincing trade show attendees to travel to the show in-person (safely, of course) is not only good for them, the exhibitors, the trade show hosts and venues, it’s also good for the communities that hold them. Trade shows bring tens of thousands of people to different cities, and this flow of traffic helps the tourism industries in these communities thrive.
Hotels fill up with out-of-state attendees, Uber and taxi drivers see a spike in the need for rides, and restaurants fill up and welcome new patrons to their facilities. There will still be professionals who will feel the need to cut back on travel, but it’s important to eventually make them gravitate toward live, in-person trade shows with a way that appeals to them. This can be done not only by sharing with them the benefits of attending trade shows in-person as we mentioned above, but also the potential for leisure.
While traveling for business can seem stressful in itself, it doesn’t have to feel that way. If an upcoming trade show is in an area with lots to offer, put an emphasis on those exciting experiences that are available. If there are unique sightseeing experiences, amazing culinary options or other fun activities, these ‘tourism’ aspects may be helpful in persuading those on-the-fence attendees. Perhaps highlighting a few options that have clearly outlined their health and safety protocols will help put those who have safety concerns at ease.
It’s not against the rules for attendees to have fun once the show has ended for the day. While their travel will be focused on business, putting the idea of more than that in their head may get them excited to begin traveling again.
Trade show hosts, venues, and exhibitors should be prepared to encourage in-person attendance to keep attendance levels as high as possible into late 2021 and 2022. While we’re not out of the woods yet, trade shows are keeping safety at the forefront and ready to welcome guests from all over. Let’s be sure to show them why it matters that we see them at the show!