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Worried About The Economy Impacting Events? Here’s Why 2022 Is Drastically Different Than 2008

by Guy Zwick

Do you keep reading news of economic uncertainty and wondering if we’re going to have a repeat of 2008, with events significantly impacted? If so, you’re not alone. But hear this: The current landscape is much different than it was back then, especially in the context of events. If you’re worried about the ghosts of recessions past coming back to haunt you, keep reading.

Face-To-Face Is Fresh Again

One way to breathe easier is to stop looking at headlines and start looking at the facts. For example, research shows that tradeshow and conference planning is up by 11.8 percent in 2022, up several points from the annualized growth average of 8.2 percent. Furthermore, 50 percent of companies in a recent study reported that they plan to host more in-person events this year. The takeaway? The industry’s resurgence as a whole is promising.

Even more promising is the general feeling toward tradeshows and events right now. This, above anything else, is the main difference between 2008 and now. Today, people have become sick and tired of quarantines, mask-restricted conversations, virtual gatherings and having normal activities paused, all of which we’ve dealt with in the past couple years. Folks are craving face-to-face meetings, hungry for human connection, real conversation and fun. Events check all these boxes — and much more.

Beyond Tradeshows

For many marketers, the first type of event that comes to mind is a tradeshow. And while tradeshows are goldmines for meeting new customers and making sales, they’re not the only type of event worth considering. Many organizations are now getting into the game of hosting their own events and/or tagging onto others.

For example, a business might create an exclusive wine-tasting for their clients that takes place adjacent to another industry event. Or they could sponsor a VIP box at a sporting event, delivering excellent entertainment and a meet-and-greet all at once. When you turn to events like these in times of economic instability, you get the best bang for your buck.

Just like with tradeshows, you can make the most of having a key group of people concentrated in one area, rather than sending your sales staff out to various events or, even more costly, all over the country. So, remember that taking advantage of all events is not only a great strategy for forming relationships and showing clients a good time, but it’s also financially sound and likely to produce strong ROI.

Survival of the Fittest Means Better Results

If you’re worried about spending money on events (or just spending money, period), here’s a little secret: Everyone is. The pandemic made us all rethink our approach to spending, and whether we can do more with less. Then, the increasingly bleak economic news caused widespread expense cutting, with many organizations reviewing their marketing and trade show costs. As such, companies today are largely operating in a smart, lean fashion.

While this might seem like a “con” for events, it’s actually a “pro.” Because of companies’ reduced spending on tradeshows, many of the smaller, more extraneous shows naturally died away. This left the biggest, most important shows still standing, with attendance concentrated and their impact amplified. There might be fewer shows, but the ones that remain are the highest quality.

Along the same lines, organizations are being more conservative about who they send to shows. More often than not, they’re sending a business leader or two, rather than an entire sales team. This saves costs for them, but it also means that the people attending the show are the cream of the crop; the real decision-makers. So there might be fewer attendees, but the ones you need to talk to will be the ones who are there.

So, will 2022 or even 2023 pan out to be like 2008? Maybe in some ways, but all indicators are pointing to the events industry weathering the storm much better today than it has in the past. The fact is that people want to be around other people, and events facilitate that. If you’re intentional about attending only the best shows for your business, exploring other events and meeting with the right people, you can still come out on top.

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