Return of UK Exhibitions - the latest news

01 EX blog 7

Exhibitions provide an unparalleled experience, where businesses can simultaneously increase their brand exposure and strengthen their brand credibility. Not only are these the perfect opportunity for networking, but also a great place to get inspiration for future industry trends. They are usually a fun experience too, with out of the box custom exhibition stands, food stalls and loads of promotional giveaway material.

Nothing looked to halt the growth of this ever expanding industry until Covid-19 stopped it in its tracks in early 2020 and whilst many hoped for its return in the summer, it is now looking more likely to be in early 2021. So, how will the trade show industry adapt in the new contactless age and will online exhibitions replace their face-to-face counterpart for the foreseeable future?

One option, that many other industries have taken, is for trade shows to go virtual and replace face-to-face events with online tours. Instead of flying to another city and navigating through a busy conference hall, this would make it possible to attend exhibitions from the comfort of your own living room. Sounds tempting, but how will this work in practise? The experience will be similar to that of a high-tech computer game, allowing visitors to virtually explore the whole exhibition and interact with different booths.

Indeed, users will be able to visit everything they could see at a live event, including a lobby, resource centre and exhibit hall. Virtual exhibitions can also include virtual seminar rooms, VR rooms, virtual browsing and navigation methods to make it as realistic a visitor experience as possible. Some people believe that this may even be more productive than the live events of the past as it will be more personalised and customer focused.

Ben Chodor, president of Intrado Digital Media believes that, “one of the benefits of virtual tradeshows is that it allows attendees to control the conversation and ask questions, increasing their ability to get the information they want.”

Furthermore, virtual events can be made more enticing with prize features that reward customers for social media posts or time spent in the exhibition. This can drive traffic to sponsor booths and create conversations around the exhibition. Contests and prizes provide great motivation for visitors to engage with companies and add an element of fun to the online events. Product demonstrations can also be more dramatic with increased technological support such as: 3D simulations, interactive screens, and content delivered to visitors’ mobile phones.

Another option is non-virtual events, holding smaller, business only events with specific rules and restrictions instead, for example, capped capacities, strict distancing and compulsory PPE. However, this might take some of the magic out of trade shows, which thrived off of the bustling crowds and a contact heavy environment.

Whilst virtual events won’t ever be able to rival the physical experience of exhibitions, they make a great alternative until they can open again safely. They encourage much needed communication between businesses and clients and help to elevate exposure in these tougher times for trade.

If you'd like to talk to us further about the future of trade shows and exhibitions then please don't hesitate to get in contact.