Where Are Trade Shows Going?
In our first article on What’s Happening with Trade Shows, we covered the SAAC Show, a strong regional association event, in Long Beach, Calif. There were a couple of anonymous comments bemoaning that the article featured links to product videos from some interesting items we found at the show.
Strange as it may seem to these posters, one of the primary goals of a trade show is to see new products. I personally heard from a few people who loved this piece. They appreciated seeing some of these items that they weren’t aware of. Last I checked we are in the promotional products business.
Continuing on with this topic, I talked with a few show planners, suppliers and distributors about trade shows to get their perspective. Here are some thoughts they shared on the challenges these events face.
There is a need to think outside the box with these events to make them culturally relevant and sales generating for both suppliers and distributors.
Statistics show that trade show attendance is dropping and the expectations for exhibitors is changing. Is small the new normal? Are shows losing people because their current structure isn’t fulfilling the current needs anymore?
Attendee behavior is changing. People are less motivated to stay to the end of a show day for a closing celebration. Standing in a line for fried finger foods and a drink is less is attractive than it once was. Travel costs are rising. Hotels average $200 a night. If a company can save a day by not staying late or coming in early, that makes good business sense.
The trade show format hasn’t changed in years. It’s typically based on preshow education and straight aisles. Many exhibitors still ask if they can scan your badge as their primary connection strategy. How effective is that? Does the show format need to change? If so, how should the needs of attendees and exhibitors be reflected in a modified trade show format?