Trade Shows: Questions about what we really lost in 2020

Trade shows are an $11 billion business. That’s according to a Wall Street Journal article by Dave Sebastian, “Grab Your Lanyard. Trade Shows Are Plotting a Comeback.Like the dollars they generate and the people they attract, there is much about them that is quantifiable. When we determine what we lost in 2020 by not having any shows, we may, however, want to focus on what we can’t quantify. The questions that we can’t answer.

How many business deals never happened?

How many new business relationships were never consummated?

How many friendships never happened?

How many hands were never shaken?

How many toasts were never offered?

How many footsteps, smiles, hellos, and goodbyes never took place?

How many entrepreneurs will spend the rest of their lives wondering what could have happened?

I believe the unquantifiable answers to these questions are our most enduring loss, which raises the big question regarding 2021. Will shows take place and if they do, will people exhibit and attend?

I know I have just asked a lot of question, so I looked to that aforementioned Wall Street Journal article for answers. What did I get? More questions. Here is a quote:

A full recovery isn’t expected for about two years, industry executives say, and many questions now face organizers and the businesses that rely on lanyard-clad masses: How quickly can shows, which require months of planning, come back on the calendar? Are attendees ready to crowd into expo halls and hotel bars with strangers again? And, after a year of remote networking, do they feel they need to?

Yes, people are getting vaccinated, and it appears things are getting better. Yet even those who want to go may find themselves restricted by cautious corporate compliance departments, international travel restrictions, and a natural wariness after a year of avoiding crowds.

I, for one, miss everybody and look forward to getting back into the trade show mosh pit. I do expect that toy industry’s trade shows will take place this year. How many people will attend and what the experience will be like is still, unfortunately, yet another question.

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