July 31, 2020 KahnMedia

The Future of Trade Shows

As the pandemic rolls on and we see event after event get canceled, from major consumer events like Monterey Car Week’s series of car shows, to smaller trade and business events, we have been preparing for the possibility that the auto industry’s biggest trade show, SEMA, may be cancelled. While that show is currently still on the calendar as this is written in late July 2020, The future is uncertain. 

This really came into focus when the Consumer Electronics Shown(CES), the biggest trade show in America held every January, announced it would be going all virtual on July 28th. We decided to study the trade show model – how they can work under the present challenging circumstances and how they might work in the future – to find alternative options for clients and other small businesses that need that critical connection with buyers, media and the trade but may not be able to attend an in-person show. 


This infographic created by NowSourcing for cyber security company Data Connectors, pulls data from a variety of sources including WiredVox, the U.S. Treasury Department and more. What it finds is that the $1.5B global business event industry has experienced massive disruption in 2020, but the most effective solution in the short term is businesses trying to connect is –  no surprise – virtual events. 

via www.nowsourcing.com
via www.nowsourcing.com

While there are certainly challenges and downsides to learning and connecting over a screen versus in person, the graphic notes that beyond the obvious benefit of being compliant with most states’ orders to avoid large crowds, a secondary benefit to these  virtual summits is that they are very inexpensive to both produce and attend – and that cost savings for attendees is helpful to both individuals and companies in this time of economic uncertainty. 

via www.nowsourcing.com

What does the future hold? According to Now Sourcing, future trade shows will be local, rather than national or international. Smaller shows will by their very nature have a lower crowd density, and will also accommodate people’s decreased interest in air travel, while also reducing attendee out of pocket expenses. 

We will see what the future holds for both trade shows in general and SEMA in particular, but this graphic is an interesting representation of the current situation as the story develops. 

via www.nowsourcing.com