Yes, budgets are ticking back and trade show attendance is up. But we’re hardly where we need to be.
Trade show attendees have smaller T&E budgets than they did three years ago and have to be more selective about which shows they go to. And although marketing budgets are back in black, exhibitors are being faced with smaller turnouts, so they’re looking for more effective ways to connect with fewer, more qualified customers—all the while with more conservative footprints and build budgets. And thanks to the rise of virtual events and microsites, marketers have to be even more savvy about creating value around their live experiences to help justify the time and expense of attending.
Indeed, the days of build it and they will come are long gone. But in its place is an emerging spirit of partnership—a more coordinated effort on the part of exhibitors and show producers to work together to create a live experience that busts out of neatly defined booth spaces and instead creates a cohesive show experience that brings like-minded brands together in new, relevant contexts. The result is a show model that’s heavy on the hands-on and laser focused on providing the right experience at the right time in an effort to energize the entire show base. Because in this new era of trade show marketing, what’s good for one is good for all.