July 14, 2024 12:44 PM
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Bob.McGlincy Tradeshow Times
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The Tradeshow Times: Tradeshows Work

by Bob McGlincy

Despite rising costs and recession concerns, tradeshows are steadily rebounding from the pandemic lockdown. Last year, shows achieved good numbers: several posted their best statistics in history, some exceeded 100,000 attendees, and many others showed significant gains over 2021. Even better, shows are off to a great start this year: CES, Concrete, SHOT and NRF were all impressive (CES had more than double the number of people from the 2022 show). Design & Construction Week in Vegas attracted 200,000 people and produced their best metrics in the past 10 years. EuroShop 2023, attracted great crowds and rave reviews. CONEXPO/CON-AGG 2023 will likely establish a new record for total square feet of exhibit space.

Business is Booming, Tradeshows Work

Business is booming, and the reason is simple: Tradeshows work. They generate sales, promote brand awareness, retain customers, foster prospects and satisfy curiosity seekers, and they allow for networking, friendship, fun, education and an exchange of ideas. Tradeshows create jobs and craft communities.

Positive Post-Pandemic Trends

Several recent studies have publicized positive post-pandemic trends. A recent Freeman report stated fourth quarter attendance in 2022 was 87 percent of the same period in 2019. (It is more important to remember that it isnt the quantity of attendees that matters, it is the quality that is important). An Event Marketer survey proclaimed that event budgets are increasing, and that a majority in 2023 will surpass their budgets of 2019. CEIR has predicted a full recovery in all metrics in 2024. This is encouraging news.

Understand that Tradeshows are multi-faceted and multi-dimensional: business malls displaying and selling products, convention centers connecting people, mini-universities offering relevant education, financial engines powering local economies. Nothing beats the power of face-to-face. In August 2001, I was speaking at TS2, and was asked about virtual reality and the future of tradeshows. I answered with a question: If you were married today, would you want a virtual honeymoon or a real one?” A lot of advances have been made in the virtual world in the past 20-plus years, but I think my answer/question is still a valid one: What would you choose—virtual or real?

Tradeshows are Amazing

Consequently, Tradeshows stimulate the senses in a live 3D environment. Think about what you experience as you walk onto a major show floor—its almost a sensory overload with the sounds, the crowds, the colors, the excitement, the products, the brands, the solutions, the designs, the architecture. You can feel the energy of the show floor. You can see and talk with people, look them in the eye, shake their hands, look for micro expressions. You can touch and compare products. On some shows you can relish the smells, taste and texture of food and beverage samples. Facts, Tradeshows are amazing: They transform an empty building into a magical, marketing extravaganza.

Make Dollars & Sense

Ultimately, trade shows make dollars and sense. They create value, and are arguably still the most cost-effective marketing medium that exists today. They provide the opportunity for business. But moving forward, the industry needs to also focus on creating memorable experiences. We need to know, understand and engage audiences. We need to give exhibitors and attendees reasons to travel and spend money because trade shows make magic.

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