A Sampling of Some Recent Shows
by Bob McGlincy
Tradeshows are happening. Convention centers are opening. Capacities are increasing.
People want to attend face-to-face events. A recent LCVA study reported that “91 percent of business travelers miss F2F interaction” and 58 percent of those surveyed described themselves as “burnt out” from doing business virtually. A new survey of industry professionals by APCO Insight stated, 81 percent miss in-person events, and would attend future, live shows.
Some hotels and convention centers have been hosting meetings and tradeshows since last summer. MGM has hosted “more than 200 meetings and conventions” since their reopening in June of 2020. Caesar’s has hosted meetings “almost daily since June.” The OCCC in Orlando hosted a tradeshow and other events last July. While some states and some venues remain closed, the encouraging news is the number of places opening to business. A partial listing, as of February 28: St Louis and D.C. are open at 25 percent capacity. Reno, New Orleans, Dallas, Louisville, Miami Beach and Tampa are open at 50 percent capacity. Austin and San Antonio are open at 75 percent capacity. Las Vegas is scheduled to open to 50 percent capacity March 15, and tentatively to 75 percent capacity in April.
Recent Orlando shows include: Mr. Olympia, Surf Expo, MAGIC, FBTA Construction and Everything Under the Sun. And speaking of MAGIC, Atlanta and Dallas have been hosting fashion events this year at their Market Centers. A partial list of cities hosting shows this year includes Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Charlotte, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Atlanta and St. Louis.
Atlanta presented Cheersport at the GWCC in February. While the event was not a tradeshow, it is important to remember that the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships in July was the first, large post-lockdown event at the OCCC. It attracted more than 12,000 attendees and proved a precursor of events to come.
The Atlanta Shoe Market at the Cobb Galleria attracted more than 500 exhibitors. Attendees called it “unbelievably positive” and “exceeded expectations.”
Not all tradeshows are occurring at convention centers. Hotels are also hosting safe shows. Two February examples are: ABHE at the Rosen Plaza in Orlando; and HMSAI at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. At the latter show, in addition to masks, social distancing and thermal screenings, attendees were divided into three groups, and allowed onto the show floor only during specific times.
Of course, the largest tradeshows at this time are still international.
The 40-year-old Brisbane Home Show exceeded expectations. The Australian February show attracted more than 17,000 paid attendees. The hall was limited to 5,000 people per session; and many retailers reported record sales.
The shows pictured here are only a sampling of shows this first quarter—but it illustrates a point: Safe shows are possible, and they are happening with real people and real exhibits. They are increasing in size and number, and this trend will continue to intensify into the second quarter and beyond, as more cities open, and venue capacity is increased.
Tradeshows are an engine that drives business, and that engine is sparking back to life.
Bob McGlincy is director, business management at Willwork Global Event Services. Willwork creates engaging, energized, and exceptional event experiences. He can be contacted at Bob.McGlincy@willwork.com