The return of the trade show….what can we expect this year?

the return of the trade show

With the Covid-19 pandemic finally coming to an end, many businesses are looking at the 2021 trade show season, wondering what it will look like.

The past year was unprecedented, but things are finally getting back to normal, and trade shows are regaining importance. 

Trade shows are a key part of the business model that drives sales to existing customers, to new buyers who are unhappy with their current vendor, and to buyers who are attracted by new products presented at the show.

While trade shows have returned, they will look different this year. Here is what you can expect to see:

In-Person Trade Shows

Live trade shows are back! But, they look different than we remember. This year’s events will be smaller, with capped audience capacities. To accommodate, some of the larger shows may be broken into regional shows to allow more businesspeople to attend.

Inside the showroom, you can expect to see fewer booths, and the aisles will be spaced wider to allow for more social distancing. There may be specific times for groups of people to be on the show floor, and appointments may be needed to attend certain presentations. 

Thankfully, there will be no shortage of hand sanitizing stations, and mask mandates may be lifted for fully-vaccinated attendees (depending on the venue).

While it may feel a bit different this year, nothing can replace the dynamic of an in-person event. Seeing someone face-to-face and showing that product right before their eyes can help make a sale. In fact, a recent study by Event Marketer showed that 91 percent of consumers say they have more positive feelings about a brand after a live event. In addition, the vast networking opportunities that are available during a live event are irreplaceable! 

Virtual Trade Shows

The past year has made us no strangers to Zoom and some conferences are keeping a full virtual presence this year. While they cannot replace in-person events, virtual trade shows offer many benefits including lower cost, and more accessibility and flexibility.

From flights and gas to hotel fare and business dinners, it adds up! Without the cost of travel, virtual shows are much more budget-friendly. This allows more companies, even smaller ones, to participate.  

Virtual participation is much easier for those attending and presenting, especially for those with families and young children. Without the need to travel, there is less stress involved. The ability to tune in wherever you are is priceless! 

Representatives who are showcasing at the show should still set up a booth, complete with full branding. The good news is – you won’t have to lug it all! Booths should include a nicely-dressed table, banners, and products on display so that guests can experience what the company offers. Some businesses may choose to send attendees a promo item in advance, to encourage them to visit their virtual booth. (Express Business Center can help with all your booth needs!)

At the end of the day, remember that virtual meetings are not a replacement for face-to-face, so it’s a good idea to set up regular face-to-face meetings to compliment the virtual aspect.

Hybrid Trade Shows

While many trade shows are returning to in-person events, attendees will see a lot more hybrid events this year, which combine in-person and virtual experiences. The Event Outlook Report from Bizzabo reports that 97% of event marketers expect to see a growth in hybrid events.

Hybrid trade shows offer two experiences for attendees – one in-person and one virtual. This model allows more attendees to participate by choosing the way that fits their lifestyle best. 

Whether the show you are attending is virtual, in-person, or hybrid, the changes in the trade show environment makes it a great time for vendors to up their game with the use of larger and more interactive booths and with engaged sales people who know their pitch. Good luck and happy selling!

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