Trade Show Statistics and Facts

While the entire world was affected by the upheaval brought on by the Covid pandemic, no industry was more thoroughly affected than live events. Trade shows were hit particularly hard, shedding around $10B in annual profits year-to-year between 2019 and 2020 in the U.S. alone.

Globally, the numbers were more significant. They showed a contraction of 68% in the global exhibition industry in 2020, leading to a grand total of $330 billion in lost trade amongst attending exhibitors.

Trade Show Statistics

A Virtual Alternative

Pivoting away from live events, trade shows moved online, embracing virtual events to replace in-person meetups. These options, while not ideal, allowed trade show marketers to at least achieve profits during a historically difficult time.


But while digital alternatives were necessary as the world battled the Covid-19 virus, the majority of event marketers still preferred the personal touch of live events. Over the next year, as the availability of vaccines and other safety measures got business moving again, many trade shows made an effort to provide hybrid experiences for their events. 



2021: The Adaptive Year

While attendance at trade shows picked up a bit post-2020, it was slow to recover to pre-Coronavirus levels.

By June of 2021, 30% of trade exhibition professionals agreed that Covid was the greatest issue facing their industry. Across the board, most industries settled on the fact that the fallout from postponing trade shows or moving to a virtual or hybrid model, simply wasn’t working. 54% saw a reduction in new business, while 26% saw a direct hit to their brand recognition. 


2022: Trade Show Trends are Up

While 40% of live events this year may virtual or hybrid, 71% of event decision-makers report that despite their best efforts, it’s tough for virtual events to ever fully replicate the results of the in-person trade show experience (BlueJeans and Forrester, 2021). 




This is why it’s clear that, given the past two years of uncertainty, the majority of trade exhibitors are excited by the possibility of returning to in-person events. In fact, 95% say they prefer them to virtual events


Moving Forward: The Bright Future of Trade Shows

The above numbers shouldn’t be a surprise. Trade shows offer exhibitors exposure to both new customers and their existing customer base at a quantity and quality level that’s simply unavailable any other way. Furthermore, the cost of converting a lead at a trade show can be significantly less than doing so at an office.




This is why it’s no surprise that when asked how Covid has changed their strategy toward trade shows moving forward, nearly 60% of respondents answered that they planned to exhibit at MORE trade shows, not less. 65% agreed that in-person trade shows are an invaluable part of their marketing strategy. And 0% of respondents said that in-person trade shows were no longer relevant.


In 2022 and beyond, it’s obvious that the trade show industry is headed for a rebound. While it may take time to fully recover, two-thirds of event professionals believe events will return to their pre-pandemic levels within the next one to two years.


Trade Shows and Experiential Marketing: A New Frontier

With the world happily returning to live events, what lies ahead for the industry? 


Show Organizers will look to create exhibitions that meet the needs and engage attendees and exhibitors by crafting events with annual meetings, educational training and certification, general sessions, exhibitions, and trade shows. By varying the content, length, location and registration and housing costs, shows will be able to attract the target demographic and focus on quality over quantity.


Providing sponsorship opportunities, engaging graphics, interactive areas on the show floor and exceptional customer service are essential to a successful in-person event. Working with an experienced Official Services Contractor at least 9 months prior to the event, will allow shows to take advantage of services such as strategic show planning, event execution, creative services, and exhibitor services. 


As exhibitors look to distinguish themselves from their competition, it’s essential to explore and deploy new strategies. In a world of live events that blend both digital and physical elements, an eye-catching stand is still the most effective method for attracting attendees according to 48% of exhibitors surveyed. And when it comes to “eye-catching”, many exhibitors are increasingly turning to the innovations provided by experiential marketing, which offers to immerse customers in your brand, enabling them to not just buy a product, but create a memory or connect with each other. In short, it allows them to truly experience a brand.


In Conclusion

With in-person events here to stay, it’s important to seek industry-leading guidance. The choices behind creating a noticeable and effective brand presence at a populated trade show can be overwhelming, which is why turnkey options are so popular. Whether you’re considering a trade show in North America or globally, navigating the exhibition process is made immensely easier and more effective by turning to the pros.