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It’s looking more and more like annual Industry Trade Shows and Conferences will take years and not months to bounce back.

Trade Shows and Conferences don’t operate in isolation, nothing really does. Everything is interconnected. Trade Shows count on many other unrelated industries and businesses doing their part for the Conference to be a success — hotels, transport (Uber and taxis) and catering. Lots of businesses local to the event have to be there to support it. None more so than the ability to actually get there.

Apart from accommodations on site, airlines may be the more critical external component of a successful show. Unless you live locally, most attendees and exhibitors fly in for the conference. And that could be the biggest challenge to a return to normal:

  • British Airways has said they expect it’ll take several years before the airline industry returns to 2019 levels.
  • Warren Buffet sold $50 Billion worth of stock in 4 U.S. airlines – all of Berkshire Hathaway’s airline holdings… because the flying future looks grim.
  • Around 17,000 aircraft are parked (in storage) at airports around the world.
  • Lufthansa has grounded 92% of its fleet and more than 80,000 staff are on reduced hours. United reported 97 percent fewer passengers flew in the first 2 weeks of April compared to the same period in 2019. No surprise then that airlines worldwide are, or will be, laying off tens of thousands of staff, reducing capacity, and cutting schedules in the weeks and months ahead.
  • Speculation about how airlines can return to business is circulating online with rumors of extending check-in times up to 4hrs, additional health screening before boarding, the requirement to wear a face mask for the duration of the flight. To assist with ‘social distancing’, carriers are blocking out their middle seats (I think the person behind, and in front, is still too close) and potentially higher ticket pricesNone of this sounds like fun… or the makings of a good travel experience.
  • Analysts expect short-haul vacation travel to pick up first, but caution business travel could be a different matter.

While the aviation industry struggles, annual Trade Shows and Conferences will remain challenged.

If flying is going to be a pain and your staff don’t want to deal with new travel requirements, attending Conferences and Trade Shows held in other parts of the country will be a struggle.

Assuming this holds true and few people register to attend, or turn up, why would a brand say yes to spending valuable budget to exhibit at an annual industry event that will attract significantly smaller crowds?

For Trade Shows and Conferences to come back, they’ll most likely start locally with regional events. Events that are drivable may be more appealing. The hassle of flying won’t be a factor and with booth sizes scaled down, the cost to exhibit and meet potential customers should be lower than those at the national event.

While the attendee numbers will be fewer, exhibiting at a series of smaller regional shows may help brands that would normally be on the fringes of a national conference, better connect with their current and future regional customers. After all, the big brands that would have taken a 50×50 or larger space won’t be present in the same way.

Until then, how are you planning to stay in touch with your prospects and customers?

With more of us feeling ‘zoomed out’ (yes, video fatigue is a real thing), and more companies putting ever-more social content out there, brands are seeing a decline in social/digital engagement and a rise in new customer acquisition costs. To combat this, more marketers are focusing their efforts on customer retention, up-sell/cross-sell, and nurturing programs — and they’re doing it through Inbound and Content Marketing along with traditional marketing channels.

Get our guide and learn what you can do now to reduce any losses you may have on upcoming scheduled Conferences. To learn how you can reach your customers and keep sales moving, or if you want to know more about how lead-scoring can help your sales team, contact us — we may have the answer you’re looking for and we’d like to help.

And if you’re looking to reduce your martech spend so that you can do more outreach marketing… well, we may be able to help you with that as well.

To learn more about how we help brands grow and get more out of their budget, be sure to check out our blog post on Why the brands we’ve lost speaks to our success.

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