Why the exhibitions industry will only grow in a post COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 crisis has left many to speculate on new business norms for different industry verticals. Certainly, there is going to be change post this pandemic. Industry leaders are trying to overhaul strategies that not only help their businesses to survive but also grow in this time of greater uncertainty.

While revival plans are on everywhere, it will really depend how long this crisis will continue as cash in hand remains the king during this phase. Survival seems be the best key concern for most of businesses to stay in the game.

One of the sectors which is much in discussion nowadays due to complete ban on mass gathering is the B2B exhibitions business. I was wondering how covid-19 is going to affect the B2B exhibitions & Conferences. To understand its impact, we must understand why B2B exhibitions are favorites among marketers around the globe. Exhibitions helps marketer for

That too in just two to three days. Imagine the amount of effort, money, and resources one must invest if he wishes to meet industry leaders, distributors, dealers, government people on his own. No other channel can provide such many qualified leads or business in just two or three days. A B2B exhibitions participant gets all of these under one roof; and most importantly all these are accessible via one to one conversations which help in building business relationships for life.

Just think of a situation when you must meet a stranger for a business – Will you like to meet him over a phone/video call or face to face? 99% people wish to meet personally face to face while talking business.

While it’s true that B2B exhibitions has been severely impacted due to Covid-19, the best way to understand the impact on exhibitions will be to analyze it in three buckets

Short Term – Exhibitions has been severely impacted across the globe and they’re most likely not going to be held in physical format as long as the corona virus is active in a few parts of the world. It’s a hard truth but is true and must be accepted. Demands across business verticals is going to decrease and it will surely affect exhibitions. Medium scale organizers are going to be impacted more as there will be struggle for the cash flows. However, one thing that goes in their favor is that they don’t have large offices to maintain so there will be scope for some savings there. As I said earlier, at this stage survival should only be the objective. Few steps companies can take like entering into partnership with large players, offer stake in the company to Key employees & diversify business lines to generate some immediate revenue. Most importantly, stay connected with customers & communities. It will decide how one is going to perform in coming phases.

Medium Term- To understand the impact on exhibitions business in medium term, I feel we need to look at how the customers (particularly marketers) will be inclined to behave during this phase. There will be lot of pressure on marketers to generate genuine leads for business. With limited cash in hand for marketing, Companies will opt for all those mediums which will directly help in generating revenue. I see huge growth in B2B exhibitions business in this phase as it directly generates qualified leads & business in just few days in small investments. But as marketers will have very less money at disposal, they will only go for exhibitions which are #1 or #2 in that industry. Shows which do not enjoy premium positioning among customers are likely to lose out in this phase. Audiences will be attracted to brands which have proven track records.

Long Term- In this phase, most of the economic parameters will stabilize and businesses will be back on track. Marketers will have funds and organizers will have money. This is the phase there is going to be spurt in launch of new B2B exhibitions. I can say, in this phase industry will be back to normal like it was in 2019 or 2018.

With almost half the world’s population under lock down; virtual platforms are helping us in a big way to stay connected and run business as usual. Its surely going to support events business in future, but at the end of the day, all of us prefer face to face meeting, want to shake hands, exchange thoughts, and of course party together. It provides an environment of friendliness which, in turn, boosts the success of our relationships, whether they are personal or professional. Thus, B2B exhibitions will remain key priority for marketers. 

Corporate life is more than it meets the eye