Are Trade Shows Phasing Out?

Trade shows are used by companies to showcase their latest products and network with other companies, clients, and potential partners in the industry. The objective of most companies is to increase/create brand awareness and drive sales revenue through leads. In addition to delivering product knowledge, creating customer involvement, and using trade shows as a live opportunity to launch new product offerings.

With the opportunity a trade show environment provides, they have become second nature to many conference activities and consumer events.

Year over year trade show sizes have been steadily decreasing across the board. Less and less exhibitors are participating in Tradeshows, along with a reducing number of decision makers participating in conference Tradeshows.

Here is what the trade show landscape looks like today.

Virtual Tradeshows

Arising technologies have made it possible to connect and present virtual trade show events to clients and customers that make it more convenient for participants and removes the travel cost of live attendance.

Concurrent Trade show Activities

Many trade shows have learning lounges, activities, workshops, and presentations happening on the Tradeshow floor to attract and drive people there.

Buying Habits

Many clients and consumers have several touchpoints when making decisions that often includes online prospecting, referrals, and engaging with strong relationship experiences through sales.

Open Attendance Tradeshows

Many trade shows are open to all attendee levels which drives traffic and opens opportunities for student learning and public audiences.

This new landscape brings forward many challenges to the trade show world.

Trade shows hold so much value when positioned tactfully. Many people are still very tangible and value the face-to-face atmosphere a trade show event offers.

If you plan events for a consumer audience, trade shows pose immense opportunities to showcase new product launches and allow your customers to see, touch, and even test out your products.

What are some ways you can tactfully approach your tradeshows?

Tradeshows with Digital

Based on your audience demographic, adding a virtual component to your tradeshow will support those who like the experience of walking booth to booth, as well as those who don’t have the budget or availability to attend in person, and even perhaps, reach new audiences.

To those who are unable to participate in either, you can record video footage of the tradeshow experience, host your exhibitor information online, and build in an engagement tool that will allow visitors to view, interact, and connect with your exhibitors even after the tradeshow has concluded. Doing this can be time intensive and cost more, however will offer a higher and more measureable value to your exhibitors and sponsors, extending the longevity of the window in which they connect with their target audience.

Simply having information available online can allow your exhibitors to have more meaningful conversations at the event vs. handing out paper pamphlets.

Activities that are trade show specific

Activities drive attendees to the tradeshow floor, but often, attendees end up spending most of that time participating in those activities, instead of interacting with the various booths. To support the interaction with exhibitors, build initiatives that encourage participation. This can include passport raffles or secret booth reveals.

Make sure your agenda allows enough breathing time for attendees to participate in those activities and explore the tradeshow floor thoroughly.

Understand your audience

Understand the different personas of your attendees; what are their decision-making preferences? What are the trends that impact them the most? Understanding market data can support the way you structure your tradeshow in a way that speaks the same language of your attendees.

Having a pre-trade show and post-trade show survey is great. You can know who your audience is, and what they prefer so you can select exhibitors that are more relevant to the interests of your clients; elevating the impact for both exhibitors and attendees alike.

Segmented Attendance Opportunities

To drive the specific attendee levels you are targeting, consider having specific windows for separate registration levels to participate in the trade show. For example, allotting full access for member-only attendees, and specific windows where public or student registrants are able to attend. The goal is not to limit access to the tradeshow, but to provide a targeted environment while dedicating the appropriate amount of attention to each attendee level.

Not every tradeshow has seen challenges of declining sizes, many planners and organizers have become very creative in the ways they approach and deliver tradeshow experiences.

What is your opinion on the topic? Do you believe tradeshows phasing out? Have you experienced changes in your Tradeshow traffic? We would love to hear your feedback at connect@fmav.ca.

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