Meeting Mentor Magazine

July 2024

Exhibitors and Attendees Returning to Live Events in Droves

Now that COVID is finally on the wane and restrictions are easing accordingly, in-person meetings and events are picking up some serious steam. According to two recent reports, the first of six planned installments of the Center for Exhibition Research’s Omnichannel Insight Series, 94% of brand marketers intend to return to live events after two years of having to rely on digital channels to sell their products. And the buyers are just as on board as the sellers: 87% say they plan to attend in-person tradeshows this year.

And they are ready to buy, said 98%.

Because many buyers, 38%, have developed a taste for digital marketing channels and plan to be choosier than they used to be about which shows they’ll attend going forward, no one is ready to turn off the digital marketing spigot any time soon. While only 17% of supplier respondents said digital channels are highly effective in helping them achieve their top sales and marketing objectives — compared to the 40% who said in-person shows are best for achieving these goals, digital should still be in the mix. However, 29% of show organizers said they will likely go hybrid to cater to the needs of the 31% of buyers who said they like having both an online and in-person hybrid option.

However, 95% of buyers CEIR surveyed say the in-person event channel provides touchpoints they just don’t get digitally, including being able to interact with a big group of suppliers in a short time period, interacting with new and existing products, and experiencing the power of face-to-face idea exchanges.

That 98% of attendees who are planning to attend with a shopping list say their top-ranked reasons for attending including seeing and experiencing new technology (89%); seeing, touching and experiencing new products (86%); and experiencing new product introductions first-hand (86%). Other important factors include being on-site to build and maintain relationships with suppliers and having the opportunity to talk with experts, respondents said.

This aligns with exhibitors’ top marketing objectives for returning to in-person events, which include building and reinforcing brand awareness, new production promotions and launches, and reaching specific business sectors. And, just as buyers are primed to buy, the sellers are right there with them, with priorities for returning to face-to-face events that include new sales lead and order generation, as well as relationship management.

Buyers also said they value the learning they get on site, said 97%, including keeping up with industry trends, a key factor for 90% of CEIR respondents to the attendee survey. They also value in-person events for providing the latest on industry trends, as well as being able to network on site.

The complete Omnichannel Marketing Insights series is based on a survey of 1,799 attendees and 316 exhibitors. The series will continue with four additional reports to be released over the next several months. The first and second reports are free to CEIR members and available for $99 for non-members through the CEIR website.


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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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