Trade shows are finally returning, and they are an important part to any business. They require extensive planning and resources, yet they also provide new leads and the chance to close deals. The traditional trade show calendar was upended last year due to the pandemic and we reported when the Natural Products Expo West became the first event to make the difficult call to cancel. Most trade shows occur indoors with large gatherings and involve a significant amount of face to face interaction. Unfortunately, these factors became red flags and events like these needed to be halted at least temporarily. Some shows had to act on incredibly short notice and cancelled the events altogether while others were able to set up virtual shows in their place. These virtual shows were appropriate for the time; however, they were met with mixed results. With the advent of vaccines and the reduction in virus cases many shows pegged the second half of 2021 for the resumption of in-person events. This has left a log jam of trade shows for the second half of the year and the quickly changing nature of the virus has complicated the matter. The delta variant and the return of masks have left these trade shows in a similar predicament to last year. Even if these shows manage to stay in person, will they operate the same way?

Virtual shows were innovating, although they lacked the personal touch of more traditional venues. Even with the return to physical locations, masks and physical distancing will be required causing each show to feel significantly different than its 2019 counterpart. For many, travel is still not an option and large gatherings present an obstacle. The taste testing of food and the handing out of samples or trinkets could all be affected by the pandemic and would limit some companies from showcasing their products. However, if you are exhibiting this year at a live event, be sure to use CSG Data to send booth invites before it’s too late.

The delay of most trade shows has left a highly compressed schedule for the rest of the year. This month alone there could be at least 11 shows with many sharing the same industry focus. In a normal year it could be difficult to attend multiple shows with overlap; however, the pandemic makes it almost impossible. Unless vendors have credits from previously cancelled shows, the prices for these venues are typically at a pre-2020 level. For the show organizers, there could also be staffing issues for the event that echoes labor shortages we have seen in other areas. Lastly, the chance that these could be canceled at the last minute makes attending them less enticing. However, trade shows still play an important role in every industry and millions in profit can be won or lost there. Thankfully, that profit can still be acquired by going digital with CSG.

CSG has many retail & foodservice attendees from every trade show in our databases and we also have the contact information for key decision makers. Our databases provide a safety net in the case of some shows being cancelled or the sheer volume of overlapping shows prove too difficult to attend. Our complete contact lists take away the concern of who will attend each show due to pandemic concerns. Trade shows will eventually return to full schedule in person events; however, that timeline could be pushed back. It is better to invest in gaining connections and leads now than waiting to see if the next show gets cancelled or delayed. Last year was difficult for everyone and now is not the time to leave deals on the table.