OPINION: Is The Exhibition Industry Dead?

With the rise of everything virtual, and the more unexpected (and frankly not welcome) Covid19 pandemic, we’ve been discussing whether the exhibition industry has a place in the future of business?


Virtual shows have been tried and tested with varying success. They just can’t reflect the experience of shaking someone’s hand, looking them in the eye and telling yourself “I can work with these people”. The technology involved in staging ‘virtual’ events is tremendous and it will have a place in the event calendar but it won’t replace a ‘live show’. Certain products can and do sell well through these channels (Apple for example) but the vast majority of products, and perhaps more importantly the people, need face to face interaction.

The desire for face to face interaction is most likely more pent up than before the pandemic. Enforced Zoom and Teams events have been excellent for businesses, bringing a wide variety of benefits which we are sure many companies will continue to utilise to varying degrees (ourselves included), but the lack of real interaction has enhanced the need for face to face meetings.


Accepting that mega exhibitions covering whole sites in the UK and Europe are not going to return to pre-pandemic levels for another year…. if at all and only when public confidence is fully restored. Already organisers have shown that an exhibition can be safely organised and managed but the attendees and exhibitors need to be convinced.


International travel will be frowned upon for the foreseeable until Covid is totally eradicated and many large shows depend on international visitors, which will shift the focus to smaller more bespoke shows that will rapidly evolve and see a rise in success and use for both exhibitors and customers.


The larger companies who would typically attend the ‘mega exhibitions’ are likely to begin using small to medium sized events and contribute to the rise and success of these, and it will quickly become a case of quality of events as opposed to quantity for many businesses. Highly skilled individuals who have been made redundant from large international event organisers have the skill and most importantly the contacts to run a show on their own, just on a smaller scale initially, which should pave the way for the rise of high quality events.


Don’t forget, many companies have done well over the last 12 months and they will want and need that momentum to continue once the confidence in holding larger gatherings is restored.


Brexit will stimulate more manufacturing to be done in the UK, more manufacturing companies will need to market themselves and exhibitions have a proven track record.


Budgets no doubt will be reduced due to the uncertain mentality that has evolved over the last 12 months, just when we think we’re past the worst of it, we get thrown right back into the thick of it. Because of this we think self-build and modular systems will become more prominent as exhibitors require systems that can be used not only as an exhibition stand but also be capable of breaking down to be used to support smaller marketing events.


We don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but we have seen many companies adapting to the ‘new normal’ and this is why we believe the exhibition industry has a promising future, and while it will take some time to get back to pre-pandemic confidence, the exhibitors and visitors at exhibitions will be of much higher quality.


We don’t know about you, but here at Triga UK we are looking forward to shaking hands and making friends in business, we’ve missed you.