The Future of B2B Trade Shows: Do They Still Matter in 2022, or It’s Time for Hybrid Events?

Trade shows can be a great way to get new business.

Trade shows can be a great way to get new business. They are a place where you can find potential customers and fill your sales pipeline with opportunities. However, they can be expensive and take up a lot of time. You also have to travel to them, which can be uncomfortable and dangerous during a pandemic. But if you plan correctly, trade shows can be very beneficial and last for several sales cycles.

There are many questions that are still unanswered about the trade show industry. People are wondering if trade shows are still worth it and if the old shows will come back.

First of all, don't believe the rumors about the trade show industry's demise. Trade shows ARE coming back, but there are some things you need to be aware of as you plan your next couple years of activity.

The trade show recovery has begun

Statistics say that the B2B trade show market in the United States was worth 15.58 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. However, it sharply declined to 5.6 billion dollars in 2020 and is projected to rebound to 14.5 billion dollars by 2024.

This change is due to the fact that people are now expecting less because of the current state of the economy.

People who attended the trade show acknowledged that there were fewer people there. But they thought that the people who did attend were more interested in what the trade show had to offer. This suggests that people who go to trade shows are serious about finding new opportunities.

Although a full recovery may not happen for about two years, industry trade show executives now face a new reality: how quickly can shows, which require months of planning, come back on the calendar with sufficient numbers of attendees? And, after a year of remote networking, virtual trade shows, and finding new ways to get business done, do we feel the need to gather en masse once again?

Will trade shows be back to normal? There is an index that can answer that question

Is there any better evidence that things are slowly getting back to normal than a fancy algorithm that tells us the same thing!?

A joint research tool created by CNN and Moody’s, the Back to Normal Index reached 92% as of July 20. This fascinating analytic scale — which touches on many aspects of life in America — set ‘normal’ at 100, representing how things were going in March 2020. We’re not all the way back, but there’s cause for celebration to be sure.

In order for the nation to return to normal, businesses need to get back to doing business as usual. This includes considering trade shows as a source of new business. The index measures consumer credit, unemployment claims, job postings, domestic air travel and hotel occupancy figures. It is supposed to be a measure of how well the nation is recovering. Although 92% is an excellent score, it is important to remember that the last mile of recovery might be the hardest because of these facts:

  • Working from home is now common and people expect it. 
  • A geographically diverse workforce is normal now. 
  • People are excited about vacation travel, but less excited about business travel. 
  • We're not out of the COVID woods yet.

Some states will take longer to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because their economies are bigger and it will take more time for them to restart. Or some states have been having a hard time with outbreaks or with getting people vaccinated.

What are the latest trade show trends for 2022?

There are many questions to answer about whether or not to stay or go during this time of crisis. Both options have a lot of pros and cons that your organization needs to weigh.

Trade show safety

Event planners are still worried about safety. In fact, 55% of them said that safety is the biggest obstacle to hosting live events. Companies don't want to send their employees by plane because of all the safety concerns. And we hear about different types of viruses every day.

We know that the people who organized the event want to do what is best for their attendees. After all, the future of their industry depends on it. But are the attendees prepared to be crammed into expo halls and breakout rooms with people who have different opinions about vaccines? And who is in charge of making sure that everything runs smoothly?

Cost of B2B exhibitions after COVID

Trade shows can be expensive. You should expect to spend 3 times the amount you budget for your exhibit. Most trade shows charge around $100-$150 per square foot of floor space. So a 10×10 booth space will cost around $14,000, and a 20×20 booth space will cost up to $20,000.

It can be tough to determine whether or not it is worth it to attend an event or have a booth at an event. This is because you need to think about how much money and time you are going to spend on this, and then compare it to how much money and business you could gain from this. You also need to think about what could happen if you don't go, but your competitors do. They might get more business than you, and that could hurt your business for years.

B2B trade show ROI tips

The Exhibitor Advocacy Group is a professional organization that wants to make sure that trade shows and other business events are successful in the future. They are trying to fix the problems that people have been talking about. These events can be expensive, so it is important that these issues are addressed.

The Exhibitor Advocacy Group notes that before COVID-19, the experience of exhibitors on the show floor was getting worse. Every year, it cost more to exhibit, and there were more problems with transparency, metrics, and cost savings. Leads and data from attendees became the property of show management, and this data was rarely shared so that exhibitors could calculate a meaningful ROI.

Some years trade show participation is good, and some years it is not. However, we have not been able to figure out why this is. We believe that trade show participation and ROI should be measurable, and that lead scoring and customer acquisition should be predictable. This way, you can know ahead of time if a particular trade show will be successful or not.

It is important to have a plan and get everyone on board. You also need to track data so you know what is working. You should follow up with people in a modern way. Too often, the success or failure of an upcoming year comes down to meeting the right person at the right time at the right cocktail party. It doesn't have to be like that.

Hybrid trade shows — option for 2022 and forward

Some of the biggest shows are planning to resume in person, with options for tuning in virtually. Mobile World Congress, the annual epicenter of the cellular phone industry that hosted more than 109,000 attendees in Barcelona in 2019, returned with a hybrid option in late June after canceling the event in 2020. People could go to the show or watch it online.

The theme for the event was "Back to Business, Back to Barcelona." The organizers expected between 30,000 and 50,000 people in attendance, with even more watching online. CES, the world's largest tech show (which normally attracts 180,000 people), went digital in 2021 with a webcast via Microsoft Teams (show content was available for up to 30 days following the event) and plans to return with a hybrid option in Las Vegas in January 2022 under the theme "We Are CES Ready."

62% of event planners said that their events will be a hybrid style in the future. 18% said that there will be more demand for virtual-only events.

Budgeting to break through

If you have decided to go to a big show, that is a good choice. You will want to be prepared and have a plan. There are some things you should think about when you make your budget:

  1. Trade show giveaways. You need freebies and giveaways to engage visitors and help people remember your brand at a trade show. Make sure to budget for branded swag.
  2. Staff and entertainment. When budgeting for your event, don't forget to include the costs of your staff's travel. This includes hotel costs, airfare, and meals.
  3. Show services. To run your exhibit, you will need to provide a range of services, including materials/handling, electricity, and WiFi.
  4. Trade show exhibit. The cost of an exhibit at a trade show includes the cost of the exhibit and the fee to rent booth space. The larger your exhibit, the higher your expenses will be.

Here is a checklist of the expenses associated with participating in a trade show:

  • Travel & lodging - 14%. It costs money to send your employees to trade shows. This includes the cost of airfare, hotel stays, meals, and other transportation to and from the event.
  • The cost of shipping your materials will be 10% of the total cost. However, the cost of shipping can change often, so it is important to talk to your exhibitor to see if they can get a better deal for you.
  • Floor space at events - 35%. It costs money to rent this space, and each venue is different. Plan your events early so that you can take advantage of discounted pricing.
  • The cost of exhibit design and construction has decreased by 11% in recent years due to the use of lightweight materials and portable exhibits that can be rented.
  • The cost of show services is 13%. This includes the costs of services such as electricity, internet, and vacuuming.
  • Graphic design - 10%. Creating digital artwork is cheaper and easier than creating physical artwork, but it still takes time and money.
  • Other expenses - 7%. This part of your budget should be for expenses such as branded swag and lead tracking software.

Switch to new hybrid trade show model

There is nothing worse than getting halfway through a show or getting home after a show and feeling like things could have gone better if only we had done something different.

What it takes to make your activation successful?

Many modern companies that focus on the digital world (such as effective targeting, content creation, engagement strategies, education, and tips) can also use these techniques to drive leads and engagement at trade shows. This is a crucial part of your business future.

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Greater sales tomorrow begin with your decision now.