COVID-19 disrupts Trade Shows, but highlight value of in-person connections.
Empty halls. No handshakes. No follow-ups. What happens when coronavirus (COVID-19) cancels trade shows and conferences? Will trade shows ever truly recover again?
The coronavirus has fueled a halt in a vast majority of trade shows, corporate meetings and social outings, forcing businesses to turn to video conferencing and other virtual interactions. The developments have led some businesses to reflect on the value of large conferences and exhibitions given the costs to exhibit at such events, particularly for startups. When the crisis is over, will companies that have managed just fine with video conferencing decide to carry on, given how much cheaper it is?
Here’s our take on the importance of trade shows and why we think they will come out of this stronger than ever!
1. FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTION STILL TRUMPS VIDEO CONFERENCING
The best way to build relationships is in person where you can look someone in the eye and really get to understand them and build that trust. It’s hard to establish a business relationship with someone over a phone call or video chat that you have never met in person.
When you meet in real life there is more ease, a better sense of who the other person is — jokes might be shared — and in the end a greater chance of winning more business.
In-person face-to-face contact is irreplaceable. Trade shows aside, getting together with a colleague or group of friends over a glass of beer, wine or meal is an entirely different experience than a conference call or webinar.
2. TRADE SHOWS WILL CONTINUE TO DRAW CROWDS
While companies him and haw about the expenses incurred when exhibiting at trade shows, they are still an effective way of meeting crowds of potential customers. For smaller companies in particular, trade shows save time and money having to make separate trips to potential clients.
3. TRADE SHOWS BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
Trade shows, which can bring in sales long after the event, are time to establish a point of contact and form a stable relationship with existing customers, and also future clients or organizations that might become customers.
That means exhibitors who are eager to show off samples to potential buyers, ready to network, and drum up opportunity will be doing so through the face-to-face connections that lead to business deals. The more you can get in front of people, the better relationships you’ll form for the future.
Some companies are taking their trade shows online with virtual events they stream from their headquarters to reach customers anyway.
4. TRADE SHOWS ESTABLISH CONNECTIONS
The Coronavirus pandemic may be keeping trade show professionals away from one another for now, but the desire to connect, discuss and learn has only accelerated. The core of every event is human connection. And it’s even harder to achieve human connection in a virtual setting.
Providing attendees with a feeling of comfort while communicating in a on-on-one setting will allow you to give specific answers to their questions or concerns further reassuring your company is ready to assist them long after the trade show.
The reality is a majority of show organizers are either cancelling or postponing their events. Some portion of those cancelled events are being re-imagined in creative ways with the use of online or virtual shows. While a virtual trade show is seldom a desirable substitute for the real, in-person experience, it may offer several other worthwhile benefits including streaming and archived keynotes, panel discussions and one-on-one sessions.
The true impact of show closures and postponements may not be known for many months. But let it be known: marketing experts warn that there is no substitute for trade shows when it comes to face-to-face contact with potential clients.