Trade Show Trends of 2011

Here are a few trade show trends that have proven to be noteworthy so far in 2011.

Hard to believe we are already halfway through 2011!  Looking back on the first few months of the year, the predictions many experts made about the most important trends we’d see at the trade shows seem to be coming true.  Here are a few things that have proven to be noteworthy so far this year.

Market Growth

Many of us are still feeling the pinch from the recent recession, but the economy does show signs of improving, which means that businesses are starting to loosen up on their travel budgets once again.  As a result, after a couple of slow years, trade shows are showing a bit of a turnaround.  Remember, businesses benefit from sending their employees to trade shows, keeping them up to date on their industry.  As the economy improves, therefore, trade shows are becoming popular business trip destinations once again.

Outdoor flag banners

Regional Focus

While trade show attendance is growing once again, the price of gas is driving the cost of travel up, so many businesses are focusing on more local trade shows and events.  As a result, attendance of trade shows is becoming much more localized than it used to be, which changes the focus somewhat.  Trade show exhibitors are taking advantage of this more local audience by utilizing regional identity in their marketing message.  People tend to associate strongly with their regional identity, and as a result marketing results.

Social Media Marketing

Another trend that trade shows are demonstrating is the switch to social media and related forms of marketing.  Although social media marketing used to be a little bit scary for many companies and entrepreneurs, the idea has now taken root.  For instance, just like many exhibitors used to have a sign-up sheet where you could enter your email address to receive electronic newsletters — quite the revolutionary idea there, for a while — now exhibitors promote their Twitter and Facebook pages, where attendees can sign up to get regular updates about company offers, industry news, and upcoming events.

Going Green

Environmentally friendly practices are becoming an expectation and an industry standard, not just a nice added touch at a trade show.  Going green at trade shows demonstrates that you are an environmentally responsible company.  For instance, if you hand out coffee or snacks, look for cups, plates, and plastic wear that are recycled or biodegradable.  You can also print signs, business cards, brochures, and other handouts on recycled materials.  Better yet, instead of handing out lots of paper, give attendees business cards with a website URL where they can go for info sheets or free downloadable booklets.  A promise of a free offering will make it more likely that they’ll go to the website later on!  Think about green initiatives when you purchase anything, even pop up displays for trade shows.

This year has been an exciting time for trade shows.  As the economy recovers and people begin to travel for business a little more, more people are attending trade shows than the past couple of years, and we are seeing some exciting trends take root.  While regional identities and social media change the face of marketing as we know it, the green movement is also encouraging greater corporate responsibility.  These exciting trends promise great things for the rest of 2011 and into 2012!


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