The early months of the Coronavirus pandemic saw a majority of the global economy being shut down in attempts to limit the spread of the novel virus. However, as the number of infections and deaths start dwindling, governments have started reopening some sectors of their economies in the run-up to a full return to business. Most sports competitions are back, restaurants and bars are being opened albeit at reduced capacities, and malls and supermarkets have also resumed walk-in operations.
As far as trade shows and exhibitions go, however, things are not as straightforward as they often involve large numbers of people gathering in (mostly) enclosed venues, making them highly risky in the current context. That explains why most countries are not even considering lifting restrictions on public gatherings, despite the return of international travel.
The Events Industry is One of The Most Affected Economic Sectors
Yeah, airlines and hotels may have suffered monumental losses in the recent past, but both industries (as well as many others) are expected to recover in the coming months as travel restrictions expire. Unfortunately, the events industry is likely to be stuck in a rut for the next foreseeable future, barring a miraculous release of a COVID-19 cure and lifting of all restrictions on group gatherings.
As it is now, no country has okayed mass group gatherings, especially in indoor facilities. Things are, nonetheless, not as bad as they were before as some jurisdictions have started allowing small groups, of between 50-300 to gather in enclosed spaces subject to compliance with health laws.
And while these numbers are commendable, they are still quite low for trade shows, most of which used to rake in thousands of visitors pre-pandemic. Virtual shows are also not a sustainable option as they lack the pull of physical events.
Despite the current situation, trade shows won’t be MIA for long, and here’s why:
Many Buyers are Only Comfortable Making Big Purchases After Seeing and Testing The Products
One of the main reasons why people attend trade shows is to view and experience the products on offer. This offers brands the opportunity to connect with prospective customers on a considerably higher emotional level than what they would achieve through normal advertising methods; social media, TV ads, phone calls, etc.
Despite the growth of digital commerce, many people are still not confident enough to buy products without first seeing and touching them. This is even more critical when you consider the fact that almost half of trade shows attendees occupy higher-level management positions.
Trade Shows Allow for Higher Level Brand Engagement and Networking
Trade shows allow attendees to have face-to-face engagements with brands, which in turn makes them feel appreciated and hence, more likely to be loyal to the brand. Case in point: a study involving marketers done by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) shows that 99% of them admitted to getting more value from in-person trade shows than they got from other promotional channels.
No Marketer Will Want To Be Left Behind
When gathering limits are lifted, there will undoubtedly be a surge in the number of in-person trade shows being held, which will typically render virtual events useless in the long term. Very few businesses will maintain online when the majority of their competitors will be hosting sold-out physical shows.