Trade shows have been on track to become one of the key annual moments in industries of all kinds across the globe, kicking off in popularity throughout the 2010s thanks to the ability of the internet to spread the news of them far and wide. However, over the past two years, the physical trade show has all but disappeared, for obvious reasons.
COVID-19 has made it impossible to attend physical events in person but, now, as restrictions continue to ease back and the world seems destined to return to some sense of normalcy, trade shows might be making a comeback, but not always in the form that you might expect.
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The stats say that business travel is returning to a normal level
There are statistics that have shown that business travel is already rising, and is set to reach almost pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. The growth needs of businesses have seen them pushing for a relative return to the operations of face-to-face interaction for quite some time, now, while others have instead looked to adopt tech platforms that can effectively help them “bridge the gap.” However, while some types of communication have been more easily hybridized by digital tech, the trade show, and conference space is one that many have been clamoring to return to.
The impact on the trade show industry
Of course, aside from the industries and businesses that have been looking to once again rely on trade shows and conferences to help them spread their marketing message, there is also the fate and health of the trade show industry itself to consider. The industry had understandably experienced levels of stagnation not previously seen as a result of the pandemic, but many within the industry are now predicting the return of the trade show, whilst doing, even more, to adopt new processes to keep health and safety at the forefront of their mind.
This benefits not just the trade show industry but fills a gap that has been opening in business marketing over the past couple of years. Many marketers have noted a specific loss of brand recognition and positive association due to the loss of face-to-face meetings. Being able to set up in a physical space again and using teams like Dynamic Gift to bring back aspects of event marketing such as promotional items can help businesses forge the kind of connections that have been missing over the past two years. In the meantime, it’s helping the trade show industry get back to full strength.
Moving to the digital space
There are trade shows that had not entirely “closed their doors” over the past two years, at least, metaphorically speaking. While they may have, indeed, shut their doors to physical visitors, we have seen a rise of trade shows that have undergone a digital transformation, hosting their events online, with direct presentations, talks, and announcements from the trade show partners in the form of video content, rather than an on-floor experience. While this has obvious drawbacks, such as the inability of the consumer and writers within the industry to get hands-on with the products or to interact directly with the vendors and trade show partners, there are likely to be some who still follow this model as live-streamed video content is becoming a bigger part of marketing in general.
The future of trade shows
Whether or not trade shows will return to their full strength for next year’s conference season is up in the air, but 2022 is already seeing a lot more open their doors after a one or two-year break. Many leading event industry individuals, as quoted by Superhuman Prospecting highlight potential trends that could see trade shows adapting to the new landscape, such as planning them with more intention with an emphasis on connected technologies and smart storytelling, using many of the lessons learned from the digital hybridization seen over the past years. Given that many attendees have fallen out of the habit of attending the trade show, as well, we may see more incentivization for attendants to come back and to connect with the companies attending trade shows, as well.
It’s still too soon to say whether or not trade shows are back in full form, with the evolutions and adjustments that have had to be made, not to mention the potential that things might always have to close up next year again. However, for 2022, it certainly seems like they are getting their time in the sun again.