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Trade Shows Will Be Back. Here’s Why.


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 re-open. We can assume that eventually many businesses 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 have full access to all  of their exercise equipment. However, what do these types of businesses have in common that trade shows don’t? The answer: they don’t require a vast amount of people to be gathered in an enclosed area to be successful.

The trade show industry can expect a slower start than other industry reopenings.We can assume that the event industry may 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. 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 successfully execute an event.

People may question if trade shows will ever regain traction to be back where they were 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. Here’s why:

Buyers will only ever feel the most comfortable making a big purchase decision when they are able to see and experience new products for themselves.There are many reasons for people to attend trade shows. The leading reason is to experience new products. Businesses can share all about the qualities of their products on their website, social media, through email, or even over the phone to a prospective buyer. What they cannot do through any of those platforms is influence customers on an emotional level while giving them an experience around their product that parallels their brand.

As marketing and advertising efforts continuously grow and improve, more and more products emerge and differentiation becomes 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 being 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 their current relationships.

The high level of brand engagement and relationship building at trade shows is unmatched.Engaging with a brand one-on-one; to feel heard, to feel immersed in the brand, or to feel an emotional connection are all things that truly can only be felt through an in-person experience.

According to research from CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 99% of marketers said they found unique value from trade shows that they did not get from other marketing mediums. 60% of exhibitors said they value the ability to see many prospects and customers at the same time. 51% of exhibitors said they value face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers. 47% said they value the ability to meet with a variety of players face-to-face, such as customers, suppliers, resellers, etc.

Lastly, a primary reason why there will be a demand for trade shows to go on is that 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 they were before. 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. Therefore, it’s important to remember that 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. Skyline Exhibits can’t wait to get back to doing what they do best when that happens, and that’s Helping the World Trade.


About the Author

In her experience at Skyline's corporate office in St. Paul, Minnesota, Briquelle Neyens immersed herself in trade show research and the ins and outs of exhibit sales firsthand. She also engaged with Skyline's wide-array of products and services from an insider's perspective. Her blogs portray her expertise on what it takes to be a successful trade show marketer. She enjoys generating information that will help all trade show marketers in their decisions to become successful on the trade show floor.

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