News and Insights

The future of events

January 27, 2022

Is the trade show dead?

In 2020/21, in-person events and trade shows were hit hard by lockdowns and restrictions on gatherings. Many events transitioned online, prompting PR and marketing programmes to adapt accordingly. For some, this will have yielded more successful outcomes than for others. Will 2022 herald a new approach to events?

The role of events and trade shows and how they adapted in the face of a ban on in-person gatherings is the topic explored in our latest white paper. It considers the size of the events market, what impact the coronavirus crisis had on it, and how companies adapted in response. It compares the various merits of face-to-face and virtual events and offers six top tips for maximising return on investment (ROI).

The enduring appeal of events

From Mobile World Congress, boasting over 2,000 exhibiting companies and over 100,000 attendees, to World Travel Market’s six events across four continents and Sibos’ 10,000-strong attending institutions, every industry has its standout events.

They provide the opportunity to assess industry trends, meet existing and potential customers, showcase product portfolios and network with peers. Many companies set product launch dates, and co-ordinate significant announcements, around the priority events in their industry.

Yet, physical events all but ground to a halt in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The impact on the events sector in 2020 was devastating.

Going virtual

In response, events organisers and exhibitors had to embrace the virtual event. 2020 would prove to be a coming of age for virtual conferencing, one in which organisers had to rethink event formats, content and schedules.

A primary consideration was how to support interaction, so keenly valued at face-to-face trade shows.

However, pivoting to a new delivery format did provide some opportunities, not least the scope to be creative. Terri Bloore, Partner, Finn Partners UK, explains: ““One advantage of digital events is the ability to link in other resources – online material such as videos and published papers. There are some hurdles to overcome for a smooth experience of course, but people are now more used to interacting in this way from their increased exposure to technology in 2020.”

Our paper provides eight points of comparison to size up the challenges and benefits of face-to-face versus virtual events. There are considerations of content, presenting techniques, event schedules, cost and environmental factors.

Maximising ROI

The paper goes on to provide six tips for planning events and maximising their PR value, covering:

  1. Content
  2. Speakers
  3. Interactions
  4. Programme of activities
  5. Networking
  6. Measurement

Inevitably, 2020/21 saw a huge change in events and trade shows. The adoption of virtual conferencing tools, that would normally have taken place over a number of years, was packed into a short period of time. Will new skills gained, and new strategies adopted, redefine or merely evolve the trade show? As you implement plans for 2022 and beyond, take a look at our white paper for further insights into the role of events and trade shows.

POSTED BY: Melayna Yeo

Melayna Yeo