Why you shouldn’t give up on trade shows just yet

Wondering if it’s still worth investing in trade shows once they FINALLY re-open after lockdown? Find out why they’re as important as ever.

Everywhere we turn we’re confronted by ‘the new normal’. Entire industries are reopening with new rules, regulations and guidelines to follow. Staff have been working from home for the first time in their lives. And now employers are working around the clock to make workplaces a safe place to return. 

Hospitality has been hit hard with this crisis. Back in March pubs, restaurants and hotels were closed down to avoid the spread of the disease. It is only now that they are starting to reopen, but there is still a lot of debate around whether or not this is the right thing to do. Furthermore, business owners in this industry don’t think that their business can operate with strict regulations in place.

The government have been working with these industries throughout the crisis. Schemes have been put in place to assist workers and businesses affected by forced closure. It is thanks to their continued support that businesses can reopen their doors, without such many would have closed forever.

But the world has forgotten about one industry.

Events have been cancelled since mass gatherings were banned

The events industry is worth over £42.3 billion and supports 570,000 full-time jobs in the UK. Unlike hospitality and retail, who were able to find alternative distribution methods, events have remained at a complete standstill since the government banned mass gatherings. 

We are seeing parts of this industry come back to life in the form of digital or drive-in events. But that doesn’t cover half of the venues, organisers or suppliers who have been affected by mass gatherings. 

Business events, including trade shows and conferences, were estimated to be worth £19.2 billion. That’s almost half of the entire events industries worth.

One of the perks of exhibiting is that you get to have face-to-face conversations with your customers, building lasting relationships. Trying to make this happen online has proven too challenging, and most exhibitions have been cancelled or postponed as a result.

Europe gives us a clue about what will happen in the UK event industry

Finally, we have a clear indication of how our industry will reopen. We can start putting plans in place for our next events, following Germany, France and Switzerland announcing reopening their exhibition businesses.

Everything seems to be getting back to normal, or ‘the new normal’ at least. However, with travel restrictions and BoJo’s ‘stay alert’ slogan in our heads – will trade shows still be the ultimate marketing strategy for a business operating in a B2B environment?

Leading exhibition stand designers, Quadrant2Design, believe so. In fact, they believe that exhibitors will have more opportunity to talk to relevant people in their industry and have their voice heard. This should come as particularly good news to small business owners.

Like every other industry, the exhibition industry is going to have to create its ‘new normal’. Without government guidelines to follow, all we can do is follow the example set by the rest of Europe. We can predict capped audience numbers, one way systems and disinfecting stations. Fear not, this is good for your business as an exhibitor.

Why capped audiences are GOOD news

In 2017, before there was a global pandemic, 200 CMOs were surveyed on the benefits of small vs. large trade shows. 92% of participants believed that smaller trade shows had more value than large trade shows. 

With fewer people there, your team will have more opportunity to connect with customers and build those relationships. You also have a higher chance of securing a speaking role, which helps you stand out as an industry expert. 

Finally, to make the event worthwhile event organisers will have to go above and beyond to ensure that the limited number of guests are all highly relevant. It is likely that to qualify for a free ticket, an applicant will be vetted for buying power and intention. The audience that you are presenting to will have much more authority than the audiences you would have witnessed at previous events.       

All in all, reduced audience numbers are a good thing for a business looking to exhibit. Take advantage of the capped audience number while you can, they’ll probably still be in place until late 2012.

A one way system can make it easier to reach delegates

You might not think introducing a one-way system would have much effect on an exhibition. Look at how it has worked in supermarkets. We barely bat an eyelid and automatically follow the arrows on the floor.

An exhibition hall is not a supermarket. The aisles are busy, the salesmen are out in full force and more often than not people just try to manoeuvre around the hall without getting stopped.

A one-way system takes away this pandemonium. Visitors are free to go from one stand to the next, without fighting through a traffic jam caused by an overzealous salesman.  

By removing this craziness, delegates can see your stand and your branding and approach you by choice. It’s a far easier way of building relationships than dragging them in off of the aisles.  

Disinfectant stations mean better hygiene

We all know the benefits of washing your hands more regularly. Everywhere you turn is another hand sanitiser as we attempt to beat this virus. But what benefits does increased hygiene have for your business?

Hygiene has a bigger impact than you might think. Consider a restaurant, its hygiene rating is a number one factor when it comes to reviews and interpretation. Poor hygiene will certainly give a negative first impression. 

Although in no way are we implying that your staff have poor hygiene, trade shows are notoriously long days on your feet and meeting a lot of people.

Washing your hands a few extra times definitely can’t hurt – particularly when 70% of people believe that poor hygiene has limited their participation at a B2B event before.   

Be first on the list when events re-open

There is no reason to avoid trade shows when they reopen. If anything businesses should be fighting over the floor spaces for the chance to showcase their product or service in front of a smaller, highly targeted and highly focussed crowd.

Use ‘the new normal’ to your advantage and start planning your live marketing strategy today! 

Photo by Charisse Kenion