The Future of Trade Shows in a Post COVID 19 World

Trade Shows in a Post COVID 19

Written by Tim Grable

September 8, 2020

Trade shows have long been very valuable for customers, companies, and organizers alike. It was a great place to debut products, make new relationships, find new customers, and network with peers. The B2B trade show market has been growing steadily in recent years and has a value of over $15 billion in the USA alone.

However, the entire industry was flipped upside down when the recent Covid-19 pandemic hit. With lockdowns, quarantining and social distancing taking place all over the world, most exhibitions and other events were canceled, postponed or changed significantly. While many places around the world are now loosening restrictions, it may be a while before the world gets back to normalcy.

So what will the future of trade shows ultimately look like in a post COVID world? Well, that is exactly what this article is going to take a closer look at.

A Much Greater Focus on Safety

Trade Shows in a Post COVID 19

First and foremost, an increased focus on safety will be a big part of exhibitions going forward. In the past, these events were packed full of thousands of people, all shaking hands, sharing stories, and making presentations to packed auditoriums. As you could imagine, this will likely no longer be the case.

Many trade shows will have a much lower capacity, will use bigger spaces, and will encourage people to socially distance. In addition to these safety precautions, others will certainly be taken as well. People will likely be encouraged to wear masks, and organizers will likely have to buy things like sneeze guards and hand sanitizer dispensers from companies like American Image.

These events will have to make sure attendees feel safe and are confident they won’t be put at risk. So while events and trade shows will eventually start up again, they may look and feel quite a bit different from the past.

The Growing Popularity of Virtual Trade Shows Post Covid

While many physical trade shows will still take place, we will see many more decide to go virtual. Virtual trade shows were already growing more popular, but Covid-19 took this to a whole other level. Technology has advanced a ton, and there are platforms and companies out there that can help virtual events be incredibly immersive and effective. There could be places to network, places to watch presentations and more.

These virtual events are much more than a large Skype call and can offer real benefits and opportunities. Not only do virtual trade shows provide safety, but they can also be done from the comfort of your own home, and are easy to attend without travel.

Some shows may even opt for a hybrid system. Some things could be done in person, while others are taken online. It remains to be seen how big the virtual trade show market will get, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it continue to grow in the post Covid world.

Contingency Planning Holds a Lot of Importance

While contingency planning has always been important for large events like trade shows, this is more true now than ever. All organizers of these events will need to have a plan in place to respond to potential disasters. Many companies, organizations, and sports leagues didn’t have an in-depth enough plan and once Covid struck, they didn’t know what to do.

This lack of preparation cost a ton of money, as well as led to a lot of confusion and the need to adapt. Organizers will no longer only be focused on making the event a success, but also on how to minimize damage and loss if it needs to be canceled. Everyone will be looking to protect themselves and their best interests and things like cancellation terms and contracts will likely feature a new language.

While trade shows will continue to exist and provide a lot of value, how they are put on in the post Covid-19 world will need to change. Organizers will have to make sure everyone is safe, will consider holding virtual trade shows, and will put a lot more thought into their contingency planning.

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