Trade Shows Are Back


We are ready to get back to in-person trade show events, as evidenced by the increase in swag orders. The timing couldn’t be better, with more than 35% of Americans having received at least one COVID-19 vaccination. Exhibitor Live predicts an “imminent comeback” of in-person marketing, tradeshows, and events, and while there are considerations for health, safety, and consumer engagement that will need to be factored in, multiple industries are announcing in-person dates.


Surf Expo Kicked Off In-Person Events; Others Have Followed

While much smaller than the typical annual trade show, with less than 50% of its attendance allowed, Surf Expo held a live show in Orlando in January. According to TSNN, the show was a success nonetheless, with buyer-to-exhibitor ratios increasing nearly 25%. Exhibitor net promoter scores were up 63%. Additional trade shows in a variety of industries have been held or scheduled:


  • The Maine Home Show was held in April. Event organizer Travis Dow said in an interview, "It's very important to be able to talk to somebody one on one,” adding that “Everybody's situation is completely different, and have different questions of what a product or service might be."

  • The Las Vegas Market 5-day home furnishings show is going strong.

  • Small Business Expo announced that its live shows will return beginning in Chicago on August 25th with a total of 15 live shows in the second half of 2021.

World of Concrete Returns to Vegas

Largely being considered the true symbol of the return of in-person tradeshows that are doing more than just testing the waters, World of Concrete has announced that it will take place June 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Throughout the year, according to FOX5 KVVU-TV, additional shows have been scheduled at LVCC, including:


  • Vegas Cosmetic Surgery (June 2021)

  • The International Surface Event (June 2021)

  • WasteExpo (June 2021)

  • The Aesthetic Show (July 2021)

  • Inside Self Storage World Expo (July 2021)

  • MAGIC Fall (August 2021)

  • International Roofing Expo (August 2021)

  • Licensing Expo (August 2021)

  • SupplySide West & Food Ingredients North America (October 2021)

  • International Sanitary Supply Association Expo Show North America (November 2021)

Fashion Retail Trade Shows Launch This Summer


Atlanta Apparel is hosting their annual trade show this week in Atlanta. With the announcement that Pitti Immagine will hold their famous trade show in Italy in June, more fashion and specialty retailers have followed suit. Curve will return to New York City this summer, and the LA Textile trade show is scheduled for this fall.


How to Prepare for the Return to In-Person Events

We’ve all spent the last year pivoting to virtual events and trying to ride out the pandemic. Now that it’s finally starting to subside, we’re all a little shell-shocked and trying to find our footing. Here are my recommendations:


  • For 2021, there may still be limits on event capacity. However, this has not proven to be a problem. What it does mean is that you may need to be selective about which events are most impactive and focus your attention and efforts on those.

  • Plan now. Being in person this year will not remove the potential requirement to offer a hybrid component. Having digital marketing solutions or a sponsorship budget to promote engagement with virtual attendees may help you be more prepared to reach all of your audience.

  • The basic rules of trade shows have not changed: The people running your booth should be knowledgeable; engagement is key; capture as much data as you can.

Returning to In-Person Trade Shows Is a Good Sign for the Event Industry

Let’s face it, virtual trade shows have helped bridge the void that existed when the industry was put on hold, keeping us all safe. But there are a lot of industries where touching, feeling, and trying products as well as networking with industry colleagues is inherently necessary. Trade shows will have an important role to play as the pandemic subsides. No matter how much you prepare, so much can go wrong when you are in a virtual realm – and your audience simply disappears. Live, in-person events allow you to pivot and still capture your audience. Let’s get back to that.


The sixth annual Global Exhibitions Day happens June 2, celebrating the significant role that trade shows play in the global economy. This year, their goal is to demonstrate that in-person events can happen safely and successfully. It’s been a long time since I felt this much hope from all over the industry. If you’re ready to start planning your return, get in touch.

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