Chart: Trade Show Revenues, 2015-2024

According to estimates from PwC, the U.S. trade show market alone will see exhibition spending drop by $10 billion this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a 64-percent decline compared to 2019.

There are plenty of statistics to bolster this data.

According to a survey of 6,100 Slate readers, only 37% said they would be willing to return to the office in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If they are not willing to return to the office, why would they attend a trade show?

Trade shows don’t just depend on ticket sales to thrive but a host of revenue streams, including advertising. Publishers have suffered from the restriction of marketing budgets in the wake of the pandemic:

  • Eighty-eight percent of news publishers said that advertising buyers had asked to cancel campaigns.
  • And eighty-eight percent said advertising buys were being adjusted.
  • While eighty-six percent said advertisers had asked to pause their advertising.

Why should trade shows be any exception?

Marketers are not likely to return to return to conferences any time soon.

Nearly half of Americans say they’ve established social “bubbles” of people they can trust to follow the rules for minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Americans are also not keen on returning to the office.

The longer the pandemic last, the more virtual events are taking hold.

A report from The 614 Group outlines what marketers and advertisers think an alternative future, without various facets of in-person business, could look like.

The survey of just less than 350 executives reveals that half (50.7%) think that in the future all live events will have a virtual dimension.

Although some uncertainty remains, with 18% of respondents claiming that it’s too soon to tell and one-fifth (21.5%) who aren’t sure, a clearer picture is beginning to form of how businesses will adapt to the new normal.

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