Tradeshow Marketing

Are Live Trade shows Worth It in 2023

Thinking about whether you should participate in physical trade shows in 2023? Check out this post to decide. Also know the latest trends in trade shows.

Physical trade shows are dead!

But are they?

If 2022 was any indication of what we have in store for 2023, physical or live trade shows are only expected to grow in popularity.

While the COVID-19 pandemic deepened our relationship with digital technologies and many quickly moved on to virtual events, its physical exhibitions all the way in 2023 and beyond. And don't just take my word for it. Multiple reports agree with this observation.

For instance, Consumer Electric Show (CES) 2023 organized from 5-8 January in Las Vegas, attracted over 115,000 pre-audited attendees. At 3,500, the event also had 1,000 more exhibitors compared to 2022.

Many other recent trade shows, like KBIS 2023, Equip Exposition, Surf Expo, and 45th SHOT, witnessed a record number of visitors and exhibitors.

So, while we may surely love our technologies and devices, trade shows are best experienced offline in physical reality. And this is not just for the visitors but exhibitors too. Here's why-

Why Physical Trade Shows in 2023?

1. Meeting and Connecting with Prospective Customers

While digital technologies have advanced by leaps and bounds, and it is now possible to build personalized marketing strategies, it's not the same as the physical world.

Trade shows have retained their popularity as they provide brands with that unique opportunity to come face-to-face with prospective customers.

The opportunity to meet and connect at a physical event cannot be mimicked in a virtual environment, at least not yet.  

While you sure can and must use digital strategies to promote your trade show booth, taking the entire thing in a digital setup might not work out as expected.

[READ: 5 Digital Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Booth]

2. Strengthening Relationships with Existing Customers

A study by Oxford Economics confirmed face-to-face interactions are considerably more effective in strengthening relationships with existing and prospective customers than virtual meetings.

While much of our communications with customers are now conducted through phone calls and emails, the face time with customers in a physical environment continues to be highly effective.

Moreover, you'll seldom find customers committing to larger deals via phone or email. They'd like to meet you to discuss their larger orders and future plans, and onsite trade shows are the perfect place for such meetings.

Even if you can only afford a smaller 10x10 booth, it is still an excellent way to meet your existing and prospective customers than doing the same online or not participating in trade shows at all.

[READ: 10x10 Trade Show Booth Ideas]

3. Build or Improve Your Brand Presence

The extensive and established presence of bigger brands is often considered an undue advantage by smaller companies. But things change dramatically on a trade show floor.

Businesses of every size, including start-ups, can exhibit at physical events. So, the environment offers every business the same opportunity to access and engage prospective customers.

Besides marketing and sales, exhibitors can use this opportunity to strengthen their brand and position themselves as industry leaders.

From customized displays and product presentations to unique trade show giveaways, there are several ways to build and boost your brand presence at a physical event.

How Have Trade Shows Changed After the COVID-19 Pandemic?

While physical exhibitions are very much alive and rocking, it'd be wrong to say that it is business as usual. Trade show trends change almost every year, and 2023 is unique as the industry is recovering from the pandemic.

A lot has changed in the last few years, and exhibitors should keep these changes in mind when devising their trade show plan. Take a look-

Trade Show Trends 2023

  1. Experiential Booths

While trade shows work, it is up to you to design your booth in a manner that excites and attracts visitors. Since the pandemic, vistiors have started focusing more on their experience with every brand they deal with.

So, an experiential booth can be a great way to engage the attendees.

It uses key elements that allow people to interact and engage with your brand. Some ideas you can consider are-

  • Trade show games like custom trivia
  • Interactive displays
  • AR/VR demonstrations
  • Photo booth
  • Custom giveaways

[READ: Why Gamification is So Effective at Live Events?]

  1. Making Most of Your Limited Trade Show Budget

Businesses across most industries suffered extensively throughout the pandemic. So, if you’re an event organizer, you’ll mostly have a limited budget to plan a successful event.

But this sure can be challenging if you're not already a trade show pro, as physical events are expensive. The booth space itself sells for thousands of dollars at popular events.

So, it’d be wise to only invest in elements that add value to your booth. For instance, while building a custom booth from scratch sounds great, renting can be a better choice to make the most of your limited budget.

You can read our post “Trade Show Booth on a Budget” for some handy ideas to improve your trade show ROI.

  1. Focus More on Sustainability

Trade shows are going greener in 2023. In fact, the US has already started amending legislation that makes physical exhibitions more environmentally conscious.

And while this is the need of the hour, businesses should think about sustainability, as this is what most consumers expect as well.

As per a recent GreenPrint report, 64% of Americans are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products.

As for the physical event, here are some trade show tips to make the exhibit more eco-friendly-

  • Use bamboo, salvaged wood, or reclaimed wood for building the booth
  • Palmwood, cork, glass, and linoleum can be used for flooring
  • Prefer LED bulbs for lighting
  • Repurpose older trade show booth
  • Consider eco-friendly giveaways
  • Reduce the use of printed materials and send out information digitally

Exhibiting at Trade Shows in 2023

Trade shows are here to stay. By not exhibiting at a physical event, you’d lose an excellent opportunity to meet people, convert them into customers, and boost your brand presence.

While physical events are expensive and require extensive planning, it also provides you with an exceptional opportunity to take your business to the next level.

If you’re planning to exhibit and looking for a fun and effective way to attract and engage the attendees, our custom trade show trivia can help. Get in touch with us for a free demo and see how we can assist you with your event objectives.


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