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Trade Shows: 2021 Edition

If your organization depends on a trade show as an important source of revenue, you already know that you need a major “rethink” for your 2021 show.

Even if there is a vaccine, and even if it can be administered to all of your exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees, and even if the convention centers and hotels are sterilized, and even if companies will allow employees to travel, and even if loved ones will support attending a potential “super-spreader” environment, you still need a new vision for what defines a trade show and exposition.

Here are three things to get you started:

  1. Things will not go back to normal any time soon. The waste, inefficiency, and friction in the trade show business model will be stripped away in favor of digital and virtual solutions now being tested, refined, and perfected. I continue to hear that many of the interactions that sponsors and “exhibitors” are experiencing in virtual meetings are more efficient and focused than what is possible in a live environment, where the competition for a prospective buyer’s time is much higher.
  2. Year-round B2B virtual marketplaces are real; they are working and they allow the host organization and the participating companies to make money while they sleep. 24/7/365 commercial marketplaces are part of your future, and adding them to your virtual and eventually live trade shows is essential.
  3. Expectations for live trade shows and expos will change significantly. Specifically around the overall experience, the investment model, and ROI. Remember, great trade shows are built upon a virtuous circle of win–‍‍win‍–‍win: all parties must benefit, the organizer, the exhibitor, and the audience. The excitement, energy, and wow factor isn’t about bigger booths, better food during cocktail receptions, or “unopposed hours” of non-competing alternatives to walking a show floor. True reimagining is happening just as it has for retail shopping, museums, and live-brand activations.

The future of trade shows is about the omni-channel interaction of live, digital, and virtual – just like brick-and-mortar retail, e-commerce, and online brand building is working in the for-profit sector. Nonprofits must adapt to succeed.

The great news is that trade shows and major industry expositions will come back stronger thanks to the pent-up demand from businesses to get back in front of buyers and the desire of expo audiences to see what’s new and what’s working, and to talk to people face to face again.2021 is the year of the trade show transformation. Are you doing everything you can, NOW, to be ready?

Learn how 360 Live Media can help you reinvent your trade show virtually.

Don Neal

Founder & CEO

360 Live Media

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