Germany is THE country for fairs. After the USA, it has the highest number of trade fairs and congresses in the world. Germany's cross-industry trade fair landscape is unique and has attracted thousands of international visitors time and again in recent decades.
But since 2020, the trade show and event industry has come to a virtual standstill. This abrupt halt is due to the global Corona pandemic, which has left massive traces to this day. As a result, more and more employees from the event sector are changing jobs and industries. On the part of the providers and events, a shakeout is to be feared. While a decline in the incidence of corona has been observed since the summer of 2021 and the general situation is improving, trade show operators and the players involved are asking themselves an essential question: Will the trade shows come back?
BRCG, with more than 20 years of experience in digitalized sales processes and in the trade fair business, makes the following trend forecast on this issue: Trade fairs are coming back, but not like in the past. This will be explained by the following 5 theses.
1. Visitors are more cautious? A major cause of the long-term changing trade fair business is the fact that visitors have generally become more cautious. While consumer trade shows will certainly continue to take place under improved hygiene measures, B2B trade shows will be affected more severely and in the long term. Up to now, trade fairs in the B2B sector have been characterized by their high international character and a lively exchange of contacts in the form of intensive discussions and business dialogs. The caution developed by many visitors as a result of Corona and the associated decline in travel and mobility intensity will probably lead to a slump in the number of visitors to B2B trade shows.
2. trade fairs no longer fit the times? Another reason that suggests that the trade fair business will not be the same in the future is the experience that companies in some industries have already been making for years with corresponding events. Trade fairs are often too little success-inducing, at the same time high time and cost. In practice, the focus is often on existing customers. New potential is realized too little. For many exhibitors, this raises the question of whether trade shows are still a suitable channel in the future. In addition, the time without trade shows was used by many companies to test alternatives - another reason why exhibitors will probably stay away from the familiar trade show environment more often in the future.
3. trade fairs lose their main advantage? If exhibitors stay away, as can be clearly observed at the IAA, for example, the question will be asked whether industries are still adequately covered and represented at the trade fairs (main benefit of the trade fairs). If core exhibitors are absent, this is usually the beginning of the death of the trade fair (see CeBIT).
4. trade shows no longer meet future sales requirements? In times of globalization and digitization, new challenges such as "time to market" and "business analytics" must be taken into account. The necessary speed to develop new customers is achieved by trade fairs rather less. The transformation of sales is in full swing. Trade shows come from an analog era. They often no longer do justice to modern, digital business and sales processes. Trade shows have their strengths, but these have been underutilized in the past and are likely to be valued less in the future.
5. digital fairs are not a replacement? The digital fairs that have appeared more and more frequently recently are not simply to be seen as a replacement but rather as a supplement. Previous events leave disappointment in many places. The so important chance and spontaneous contact on site is little made possible in the digital format, the interaction remains far behind the standards used at trade fairs. Participation is also often unattractive in terms of price - especially from the visitor's point of view. You often get less, but have to pay more. Trade show and congress events cannot simply be transferred to the digital world. Their core benefit, namely to get in touch with each other in person and to benefit from spontaneous exchange, is missing, which is why digital trade shows are not a real alternative.
From the point of view of BRCG trends, the following forecast is therefore realistic: The Corona pandemic and the measures on the part of state organizations are accelerating the paradigm shift in digitization and acting as an amplifier of the shift in significance in the instruments of marketing and sales. From BRCG's point of view, therefore, it cannot be assumed at present that the trade fair business will continue in its old form after Corona or simply return. Ultimately, this means that exhibitors will have to reorient themselves and turn to alternatives. On the one hand, this reorientation is a pity, as some sectors are losing important events. On the other hand, however, it releases new forces to switch from a person-centered to a systematic, process-oriented sales approach.
Are you also asking yourself the question about the further alignment of trade fairs or the weights within a modern digital sales process? Are you thinking about alternatives in the area of customer management but also the conquest of new customer target groups?
So what does the distribution of the future actually look like? Do you have any questions? Feel free to contact us!
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Dr. Bergmann – Dr. Rohde & consulting group gmbh
Dr. Holger Bergmann