Trade shows or business exhibitions were once the gold standard in marketing for lots of companies. They represented a chance to showcase your business to thousands of people across a few days. Many attendees would cross the threshold and walk around these large exhibition stores, taking all the stands in.
Unfortunately, the pandemic stopped the exhibition industry in its tracks. Trade shows were put on hold as everyone went indoors, and they were replaced by virtual events. Now, as restrictions have lifted, we ask the question: have trade shows lost importance after the pandemic?
As with almost any event, attendances for trade shows and exhibitions were down considerably during the pandemic. Some research suggests they fell by as much as 63.8% – which isn’t surprising given that most events got cancelled for at least a year, maybe more.
Having said that, the figures are rising yet again. We’re seeing something that’s being seen across society following the pandemic; a bounce-back effect. Imagine exhibition attendances are a bouncy ball that you’ve dropped from the sky. During the pandemic, attendances fall to the ground. But, as restrictions have lifted, they are bouncing back up as more and more people are keen to get out and enjoy their freedom once more.
While attendances aren’t expected to reach their pre-pandemic figures for another couple of years, it’s clear that trade shows are still going to play a key role in marketing strategies for many types of businesses.
The answer to the lack of trade shows was to host virtual events where people could basically get an exhibition experience, only online via video conferences. They served a purpose at the time, but it’s fair to say virtual events come with restrictions and drawbacks.
Mainly, they don’t allow attendees to physically see products, feel them in their hands, witness them being tested or demonstrated first-hand, etc. Nothing will be able to replace this until virtual reality technology is good enough to give a real-life replication!
The bottom line is that you should still look to attend trade shows if you have a small business. Invest in bespoke custom exhibition stands to stick out from the crowd and create a strategy that encourages people to visit your booth.
A massive 95% of people prefer in-person trade shows to virtual events, so you need to start attending them again. It’s also believed that the perception of your brand can fall by as much as 5% if you don’t attend key events within your industry. In short, if you’re not at the big trade shows or exhibitions, your brand is going to suffer because you lose some authority and respect within your industry.
The overall conclusion is that trade shows have definitely not lost importance since the pandemic began. They suffered a hit during the height of the pandemic, but like most things, there is this bounce-back effect. It is detrimental to your business if you are avoiding in-person trade shows in 2022 and beyond.