A Greater Appreciation for Trade Shows
Trade shows are back after a year of cancellations. Exhibitors and attendees are ready for their return.
While organizations shifted to virtual meetings out of necessity, the experience was generally inferior compared to the live events. In many cases, even our personal relationships were forced into the virtual realm.
2020 shined the spotlight on the human need for face-to-face connections that were previously taken for granted. Trade Shows, Conferences and live Events are coming back to renew those in-person connections. Event planners and venues are adjusting their focus to attract the lanyard-wearing crowds.
The 2021 Trade Show Industry Projections
Experts in the $100+ billion US trade show and exhibition industry report that the in-person events are slowly coming back after the lost year. The uncertainty of 2020 rolled over into the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2021 leaving planners to look ahead to the 2nd half of the year for dates. Unfortunately, large Conferences and Trade Shows are booked years in advance so their window of opportunity has passed for 2021. Especially for the shows that are normally booked from January thru June.
Although 2022 will be a big comeback year for in-person events, some predict that a full recovery will not happen until 2023. For the rest of 2021, planners will have difficulty in forecasting attendance reluctant to crowd into expo halls with strangers.
Early social signals are positive for the industry as people crowd into restaurants and book Summer vacations with their families. Facebook is loaded with posts of families gathering after a year apart. Grocery stores are filled with unmasked shoppers happy to see smiles once again.
Industry Obstacles for Trade Shows to Come Back
While attendee concerns about safety and health are relaxing a bit, venues and planners are taking extra precautions to ease the concerns of some who may be on the fence. As a result, many venues have upgraded their ventilation systems to improve air cleanliness. Sanitation stations will be a mainstay in large expo halls. Even exhibitors will be a part of the solution as they hand out branded hand sanitizers at their booth.
There are still some obstacles for the rest of 2021 –
- How quickly can trade shows get back on the venue calendar?
- Are attendees ready to return?
- After a year of virtual networking, do attendees feel a need to attend?
- Do Exhibitors have budgets for in-person events for 2021?
- Are attendees an international audience with travel restrictions?
- Will organizations be willing to pay for in-person attendance when a less expensive virtual experience may be available?
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
Even though less than 50% of our exhibiting customers we reached out to plan to attend in-person events this year, the good news is that 100% are already planning for 2022 events.
We made it through 2020 selling PPEs, Virtual Conference Kits and Commercial Printing to our customers deemed as essential businesses. Our excitement about the return of trade shows began when our first exhibiting customer, MedAmour, reached out to us to help them with their exhibit at the IECSC, International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference in Las Vegas this month. MedAmour needed Tablecloths, Signage and Tote Bags for their booth. We were happy to oblige!
Since then, the orders have been increasing from our returning exhibitor customers. Our conference planning customers are reaching out to us as they budget for their large 2022 events as well.
As a supplier of Promotional Products to trade show exhibitors and meeting planners, we’re bullish about the future of in-person events. They’re slowly coming back and we expect a strong resurgence of trade shows and conferences in 2022.
We’re happy to get back to our core business that we love.