The future of trade fairs

The future of trade fairsWho doesn’t love visiting a trade show? Whether it’s a food fair, a car exhibition or a fun local event showcasing local businesses, it’s great to make a whole day of it – and let’s face it, the freebies are great too!

They have always been events and trade fairs where buyers can interact with sellers and try out new products first-hand, proving successful for many companies. But how can this experience be replicated in a contactless future?

As businesses have turned to remote online working and video conferencing, is this also paving the way for trade shows too?

Why trade fairs are important

Trade fairs have evolved rapidly over the years, starting off as a basic, one tent product showcase to creating an entire experience for the visitors across a large space.

Growing to meet the demand, they provide a platform for businesses to increase their brand exposure and strengthen their brand credibility. Getting their brand out there with a custom exhibition stand design and putting a human being behind it can help improve customer loyalty and build that essential trust. In a virtual world, it’s important to point out that we’re not all robots!

Digital has it’s place too, but when meeting with people ‘offline’ you’ll want to leave them with a great impression and one that lasts too. Handing out printed material like leaflets or high quality brochures for them to read over their lunch time coffee will make your brand and offering more credible.

Speaking of customers, trade shows and exhibitions offer the perfect opportunity to connect and re-engage with their audience. They are essentially grounds for networking and are the perfect setting for interaction and making connections. The atmosphere, the decorated space and products on display, they are all ingredients for drawing people in and starting a discussion.

This is completely different to sitting behind a desk with your home furniture as your own decorated exhibition stand, with dogs barking and interrupting you and even bad internet connections. We’re not saying it’s all bad, but it’s definitely different!

Predictions for the future of trade fairs

There are no rights or wrongs in this scenario, no trade fair do’s or don’ts there is just trial and error for the industry to acclimatise and adjust. Change is good, right?

Obviously, the number one prediction would be the move to online trade shows and fairs. A huge number of events have now been taking place virtually and this is certainly an option for the exhibition industry.

Audiences are becoming a lot more comfortable with attending online events, so it makes sense to try it out. Who wouldn’t want to attend a trade fair wearing their loungewear sets in the comfort of their own home? There’s less risk of infection, it’s cheaper due to no travelling – it couldn’t be easier! Just like virtual tours for the housing market, virtual tours around trade shows and interacting with businesses that are showcasing their products with people at home could definitely work.

The option of non-virtual events is another prediction though, still holding trade fairs but with specific rules and restrictions instead, for example, capped capacities and compulsory PPE. Putting a cap on the number of people allowed at one event isn’t as bad as it sounds and could qualify for the quality over quantity mantra. Also, a cap on the number of visitors doesn’t mean a cap on the run time for the event – It can still be an impactful experience!

Personal protective equipment wouldn’t be a setback as this has become the way of life anyway. People are used to wearing a mask wherever they go, so it is second nature and so, no one can complain really. This equipment would keep everyone at the trade fair safe and, by keeping the environment as clean as possible, the risk of infection spreading would be dramatically reduced.

How to prepare for future trade fairs

Virtual trade fairs will never compete with or replace the impact of in-person networking, but it’s not all bad. There are pros and cons to all of this but, no matter what, the tradeshow industry will always strive to bring the experience everyone loves.

It’s not that hard to follow the rules and regulations and you shouldn’t complain about technology taking over, we’re doing the best with what we’ve got here. It’s not all doom and gloom, trade fairs will still carry on – with everyone’s support, ain’t no stopping us now!