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September 05, 2018

Until I Can Taste Pizza Online, I’m Sticking with Trade Shows

Heather Bundgaard, Account Executive
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Over the last few years, I’ve heard people say: “trade shows are going to be a thing of the past.” The main argument being, everything is going digital and soon there will be virtual trade shows.

Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball, nor did I see Google replacing the encyclopedia, but in my opinion, trade shows aren’t going anywhere. Even in our digital-driven society, face-to-face (F2F) marketing continues to be in high demand.

There are many strategic advantages to attending and exhibiting at F2F trade shows. Let’s review what a few of them are:

• Showcase and demonstrate new products

• Build relationships and network within your industry

• Discover the latest trends and inspire creativity

• Keep an eye on the competition

• Find new resources

• Attend educational seminars

Those are pretty compelling reasons why trade shows are a valuable marketing tool. Am I right? But, for argument’s sake, let’s look at the scenario below and how it would differ between a F2F trade show and virtual trade show.

Scenario: A super store is looking to roll out a private label pizza line.

F2F Trade Show: A group of decision makers attend the PLMA (Private Label Manufacturers Association show, Rosemont, IL), and NRA (National Restaurant Association show, McCormick Place, IL) trade shows to taste a variety of pizza selections and discuss comparisons on the show floor. The key elements this group would experience include:

• SMELL: The smell of pizza cooking.

• TOUCH: Feel of the crust to determine its consistency.

• SIGHT: See what ingredients are used, how the pizza cooks, and reactions to the taste.

• TASTE: Taste the pizza.

• HEAR: Listen to product details and feedback.

• EXPERIENCE: Connect in-person with reps from each pizza company.

Virtual Trade Show: The group of decision makers would login from anywhere to a virtual trade show to learn more about each pizza company. The key elements this group would experience include:

• HEAR: Listen to product details and feedback.

• SEE: See what ingredients are used and hopefully watch how the pizza is cooked.

• EXPERIENCE: Possibly connect with contacts from each company through a live chat or a follow-up email, but will need to schedule various follow-up in-person meetings.

In this scenario, the lack of appeal to all five senses is detrimental to this group of decision makers and can considerably slow the buying process.

While not every scenario would involve food, an in-person meeting will be required. Virtual trade shows may work for some industries, but I see traditional trade shows sticking around for the inevitable future.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me below.


Heather Bundgaard, Senior Exhibit Consultant
htb@ttskyline.com | 630.376.1538
Heather’s marketing career started more than 22 years ago with a focus on trade show planning and execution. Her current role as a senior exhibit consultant allows Heather to work with various companies and industries on their trade show needs from design to implementation and asset management. Heather strives to provide the best customer experience, relieve her clients of stress, and prevent wasted time and money.


About TradeTec:

Founded in 1999, TradeTec Skyline produces innovative trade show exhibits with unmatched customer service and a promise of NO POST SHOW BILLING for clients. As an endorsed provider of Skyline products, TradeTec offers the highest quality modular exhibits as well as custom and hybrid solutions. Located just west of Chicago, TradeTec has served over 6,000 clients and completed over 35,000 projects worldwide. They currently manage over 3,500 events each year. Learn more at ttchicago.com.