Over the years, Spire has created exceptional trade show experiences from Dallas to Dubai, Chi-Town to Sin City. But last year, the events and exhibition industry lost a staggering $30 billion  worldwide. For B2B businesses, event planners, and many more involved, this hit hard.

Thanks, COVID.

But despite being a tough trade show year, Spire is already seeing a substantial bounce-back in the event space. As outlined in our recent blog post, Vegas has quickly opened back up in a big way this month, with highly attended trade shows like World of Concreate and Champs.

As B2B markets and other companies move back into the normalcy of these events, it’s advantageous to look at why these trade shows have historically been an impactful part of the marketing mix in reaching new customers within a high-touch environment. So as we look ahead to the summer and fall trade show seasons, let’s explore why 41% of companies consider event marketing and trade shows to be their top channel for lead generation.

Building Brand Awareness

Over 90% of attendees at trade shows report that they are on the hunt for new products and services, while 88% of companies attend to promote awareness of their brand. Trade shows are opportunities to connect with potential clients you may never meet again; 45% of participants attend only one trade show per year. Here at Spire, we believe these events are a unique opportunity to connect with attendees, make connections that could last a lifetime, and ultimately give your audience a greater understanding of your product/service. In addition, these visitors will tell more than six other people on average about their trade show experience—a profitable word-of-mouth opportunity!

Making Sales & Leads

According to the most recent study, 83% of businesses report that their main goal at a trade show is to increase sales. These exhibitions have consistently proven to help with sales to new buyers, competitors’ dissatisfied buyers, and current customers. Attendees often travel from all over the world and bring grand opportunities to exhibitors.

  • 81% of attendees have purchasing power and are key decision-makers in a company.
  • 77% of these attendees find at least one new supplier at shows, giving your company a fair shot.
  • As many as 49% of attendees plan on buying at least one product or service presented.
  • 67% of attendees are serious prospects.
  • Face-to-face contact results in sales closing quicker (an average of 3.5 sales calls).

These statistics reflect trade shows’ remarkable opportunities for sales, leads, and the overall ability to create new relationships through networking.

Time Well Spent

Trade show attendees spend an average of nine hours on the exhibition floor, not including the time for multi-day events. This means nine hours of your company putting their best foot forward, showing off their best products, and making connections that could last a lifetime.

A Reflection of Your Brand

If you’re thinking that you can get out of attending trade show events, it wouldn’t be without consequences. Not only would your brand miss out on the benefits that trade shows present, but the public’s perception of your company decreases by 5% if your brand doesn’t show up. This applies to various companies, including local, national, and international brands.

In addition, many current clients enjoy seeing their providers at these exhibitions. Face-to-face time is averaged to be worth $142 at a trade show, $117 cheaper than a meeting scheduled in the office. As many as 65% of companies attend to meet with clients to capitalize on these savings.


Trade shows are an incredible investment for your company and reap many benefits. If you’re not sold, here are some numbers, according to the most recent reports:

  • 52% of executives think trade shows drive the most ROI.
  • 73% of B2B marketers believe exhibitions are best for consumer engagement.
  • 22% of marketers reported that multi-day events are the most impactful.

It’s safe to say that trade shows bring opportunities that brands can’t find anywhere else. Yet, as the impact of COVID-19 continues to impact our market, what can we expect next?

Leaving “In-Person” in the Past?

Although trade shows are beginning to take place once again, 55% of event planners still hold safety as their number-one worry. Due to this, many professionals believe that in-person events will be more common toward the end of 2021.

As these event markets continue to recover, these situations bring up a reasonable concern for many.

Some 60% of event planners have changed an in-person event to a virtually held event within the past year. 66% have postponed an event, and 87% have completely scratched an event, canceling it altogether.

Some hosts have become accustomed to this new digital world, holding events online and inviting others to join via videoconferencing platforms like Zoom. Many enjoy the flexibility, the low costs, and the ability to work from home. But these online experiences aren’t as impactful as they may seem. While companies may spend less money and time in virtual events, they tend to pose new challenges and don’t quite measure up to the in-person events of the past.

Virtual events have several drawbacks, especially for marketing events such as trade shows.

  • 35% of virtual event attendees are no-show, higher than at in-person events.
  • 38% of hosts experience technical difficulties.
  • 49% of marketers believe that audience engagement is vital, yet 67.7% of event marketers find it challenging to engage a digital audience.
  • 58% of virtual events are limited to 300 audience members, yielding fewer opportunities for sales.
  • 62% of digital events only last a day, despite the importance of a multi-day trade show.
  • 73.5% of survey participants responded that they prefer in-person events.

Virtual events may have their perks, but people often require face-to-face interactions when making a business decision.

Trends to Expect

With in-person events on the rise, there are many trends expected to take place within the next year. 74% of survey respondents think that Las Vegas is most ready to host trade shows compared to other struggling markets, such as New York, Orlando, and Chicago. While Las Vegas will dominate the trade show market in the second half of 2021, New York plans to begin hosting trade shows again in November 2021.

Once these events are open, it is expected that safety measures will still be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Trade shows will become more specific to different markets to limit the number of attendees.
  • 73% of event marketers plan on enforcing mask-wearing, social distancing, and other safety measures.

Despite the long, tumultuous road that the event industry (and the rest of the world) has journeyed this past year, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In-person events will continue to grow this fall, making it only a matter of time until we return to the new normal.

Rachael Briner is a Client Service Intern attending Southern Methodist University.

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