What’s so great about trade shows? They’re magic. A plain slab of concrete in an empty exhibit hall is transformed into beautiful exhibits, built by talented, creative people, that provide abundant business opportunities.
It is no surprise that marketers had to drastically change their tactics during the height of the COVID pandemic. However, after two years of pivoting to digital channels – from virtual events and exhibitions, educational webinars, email campaigns and digital advertising – lo and behold, it appears that humans need connection and contact. Digital attendees and companies felt they were suffering from zoom burnout. It’s true that virtual events provided marketing value during the height of the pandemic. But exhibitors have indicated that live events offer a more robust experience for not only the attendees, but also the brands. So, here we are. Trade shows are a thing again! Convention centers and companies have worked diligently to create safe and hygienic environments so that we can conduct business in person again. After all, where else can you see the latest and greatest products, from name brands to startup companies, under one roof in just three or four days?
TPG has been attending many of these events since trade shows resumed. We can testify to packed aisles and busy booths. For example, after a two-year absence the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the most influential healthcare technology expo, was again held in Orlando. Our staff reported crowded aisles, and exuberant attendees and exhibitors. Our research bears it out. We implemented booth traffic technology for one of our clients to track booth visitors, dwell time and in which part of the booth they spent the most time. The results were positive and encouraging. Another show, the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration expo boasted 70,000 attendees. The recently concluded Work Truck Week was an undeniable success. At that show, nearly the entire floor was full of Electric Vehicles and new innovation, much of which attendees were seeing for the first time. Trade shows are powerful for launching new products and technology.
Our many years producing and managing a major automotive manufacturing and technology company’s trade show program, showed that when events returned after the height of COVID, even if attendance was slightly down, lead numbers were not that far off and the lead quality equaled or surpassed those from prior years.
The reasons that companies attend trade shows have remained nearly the same throughout history. In fact, recent results from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Omnichannel Marketing Insight Series, indicated that among exhibitors’ top marketing objectives were:
- To build and reinforce brand awareness
- New product promotions and launches
- To target specific business sectors
But one statistic from the CEIR research says it all: 94% of survey respondents plan to return to exhibiting live in 2022!
Interestingly, experiencing a pandemic has led us to add another reason to attend or exhibit at trade shows:
- Fostering community and building relationships
CEIR CEO, Cathy Breden, notes that people’s motivations for attending trade shows and exhibitions have changed. In 2022, fostering community and building relationships are among the top priorities for a lot of event attendees.
Take a look at the above statistics. It’s not surprising that exhibitions mean business. Before the pandemic, in 2019, exhibitions contributed 101 billion to the U.S. GDP. Hopefully, we are well on our way to achieving that kind of impact again. Trade shows provide attendees and exhibitors with a unique environment to make high-level connections and new business partnerships. There is nothing like a trade show for participants to find the latest state-of-the-art products and services and find a sense of community and relationships. Simply put, there is no other venue where you can connect in person with that number of quality people in a targeted sector. And the opportunity for a longer brand interaction is far greater than other channels offer. What’s so great about trade shows? Everything.
TPG is a leading women-owned, boutique experiential agency specializing in integrated virtual and live trade show event marketing experiences. Let’s work together on a memorable event that drives action!
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