We are all anxiously awaiting the return of trade shows and events to make us feel like we are back to business as usual. And continue to wait we will. Events keep getting postponed, trade shows are being pushed later and later, and hosts and attendees alike are wondering what the future of exhibiting is going to look like.
Many event hosts like The Inspired Home Show and The Las Vegas Convention Center are demonstrating their preparation for a safe return for event guests and advertising their many innovative cleaning strategies being implemented in countless facilities.
However, when it comes to exhibitors, returning to the show floor is a complex proposition. It’s been a rough year for exhibitors, who are still dealing with the impact of forced shutdowns and closed businesses.
Exhibitor Magazine recently surveyed corporate exhibit managers and suppliers to get a feel for how this industry will move forward once it’s time. From the survey, they compiled a report with some interesting findings. With over 1,000 respondents giving feedback to the survey, the report was comprehensive as well as informative. Here are the most notable findings:
- The value of in-person marketing is higher than ever. According to the report, 70% of businesses have lost business leads and sales because their in-person marketing efforts were curtailed by the pandemic. The sudden decline in exposure and interaction had an enormous impact on sales. Because of these findings, exhibitors are more anxious than ever to return to trade shows, eager to earn back those sales and customers.
- Maintaining relationships is still a primary focus. The survey showed that 48% of exhibit executives had more difficulty establishing and nurturing client relationships via virtual events. Virtual events are drastically less effective at building trust and establishing brand connection, according to those surveyed. Managers have been taxed with trying to establish personal (and in-person) connection with prospects and clients when travel and in-person events have been canceled.
- Brand awareness is difficult to increase without face-to-face marketing. 55% of exhibitors shared that they haven’t had success in increasing brand awareness since their trade shows have been canceled or postponed. Despite the enormous impact and availability of digital marketing and social media, it is an enhancement and an accessory to in-person marketing, not a replacement. The world might be at our fingertips, but it’s the handshake that makes the biggest difference.
- Senior execs are now aware of the importance of trade shows. Whereas before the global pandemic, upper management might have been a hard sell when it came to investing in trade shows and events, now they see (in dollars and cents!) the importance. Exhibitor Magazine’s report says, “The silver lining if there is one, is that the absence of trade shows has made the hearts of upper management fonder of face-to-face marketing. One-fourth of respondents say the cancellation and postponement of events have helped make the value of exhibiting at trade shows more obvious to members of the C-suite.” This pans out because most high-quality leads are “closed” at an in-person meeting; they make decisions largely based on the personal connection and level of trust built in real life. And since over 81% of high-quality leads have purchasing power, it makes since to get back to meeting them.
The future of trade shows is bright. They will never go out of style because people will always yearn for the personal connection, both in personal relationships and in business relationships. This past year has given us actual data to be able to measure how effective trade shows are in our marketing efforts. If you’re one of those exhibitors who is ready to dive back in to trade shows, reach out to Skyline Exhibitor Source for any of your exhibiting needs!
This article was inspired by "Shedding Some Light on the Future of Trade Shows" by Briquelle Neyens and first appeared at skyline.com
Photo by Paul Hanaoka