The Show Must Go On: How Trade Shows are Evolving and Businesses are Responding

abstract representation of the show must go on: how trade shows are evolving and businesses are responding

Historically, trade shows have been a cornerstone of Sales – a place for networking, showcasing products, spreading brand awareness and keeping up-to-date with industry trends. When in-person events were put on hold in 2020, trade shows across the globe were forced to rethink their strategies and find new ways to evolve. Many trade shows decided to go virtual—but what did going virtual mean for businesses looking to attend? How will trade shows continue to evolve as we enter a new year? And what alternatives are there for businesses who miss that in-person connection?

Hybrid Events Will Take Over

While virtual events can be considered better than none, attendees lose out on the charm and energy of an in-person trade show. In an attempt to bring back the allure of an in-person show while still maintaining the safety of social distancing, trade shows may consider evolving into a hybrid show

Hybrid events combine the live, in-person aspects of a trade show with digital and online components. This will give businesses the opportunity to showcase their work in a traditional setting while still reaching both in-person and online audiences. Why are trade shows considering adopting a hybrid model? 

  • In-person event restrictions, as well as travel restrictions may change throughout the year
  • Venue capacity limits may reduce party sizes as well as how many businesses can attend
  • In-person events are costly, and the financial hardships of 2020 may make it difficult for businesses and consumers to attend
  • Guests may be cautious of attending events in person and may feel more comfortable online

Flexibility is important in these times, and consumers will appreciate the different options for attendance. And while international travel and capacity restrictions are still currently in place around the world, having a virtual back-up plan is a good idea. 

When In-Person Is Not an Option, Virtual Shows Will Prevail 

Virtual events have become a new normal. While there are elements of in-person trade shows that are lost, moving to an online platform has been the easiest way to try and keep the sentiment alive. Virtual trade shows offer businesses and attendees several benefits over traditional events, including:

  • Greater accessibility
  • No travel or accommodation costs
  • A flexible on-demand experience
  • Easy customizations with interactive and downloadable content

So far though, virtual events have been hit or miss for businesses who seek leads and connections. According to a study from TradeShow Logic, 43% of exhibitors who have participated in a virtual trade show say they won’t do so again citing challenges with the technology and a lack of engagement once inside the exhibit hall. 

With a lack of In-Person Shows, Investing in Marketing is More Important than Ever

Given these mixed results, businesses are shifting their focus back to marketing and lead generation tactics. Content creation is a way to show you are up-to-date on industry trends and relay information to your audience. Other ways to pivot your marketing strategies include: 

  • Host virtual webinars to continue to share product or industry insights
  • Engage with followers across social media platforms to grow your online audience and presence
  • Produce video content that showcases products, company information and other educational topics
  • Invest in digital marketing programs such as trade, pay-per-click and SEO to drive brand awareness and lead generation 

Want to learn more about shifting your marketing strategies through unprecedented times? Contact us today.