What Challenges Are Waiting for Trade Shows in 2022?

People checking out products in booths at a trade show

Trade shows went through several transitions because of COVID-19. From cancellations to going digital to making tentative plans for face-to-face events in 2021.

This year, they are set to make a comeback. But because of venue restrictions, social distancing, and personal safety concerns, trade shows will certainly look and run differently.

Top 5 Challenges for Trade Shows in 2022

These restrictions and concerns pose several challenges in event planning. Here are the top five challenges returning trade shows will face in 2022.  

1. Staffing Issues Due to Company Layoffs

Roughly 21% of people in the events industry were laid off or furloughed at the height of COVID-19. Some left of their own accord while 52% reported a loss of income.

Now that trade shows are returning, there is a significant gap in the workforce. Most companies are experiencing staff shortages because of the laid-offs that happened in 2020 and 2021.

On top of this, existing staff is experiencing problems as well. Some are immuno-compromised, while others have caregiving responsibilities that restrict them from attending in-person events.

2. Travel Restrictions

Corporate travel is steadily returning, but it is a very slow one. It isn’t expected to snap back to pre-pandemic levels this year or even next year—COVID-19 is still with us after all. 

There is fear of emerging variants—like the Omicron variant which impeded travel plans early this year—along with eradicating it entirely is yet unlikely so some travel restrictions are still in place.

And that’s just for domestic travel. International trips are facing bigger barriers: unpredictable entry and exit regulations, last-minute cancellations, confusing travel requirements, etc. 

All these make travelling a turn-off for most people and companies which could affect trade show attendance and your bottom line.

3. Inflation

Prices of goods and services spiked and will likely remain high in 2022. Various supply shortages due to mobility restrictions, the war in Ukraine, and other factors contributed to the high inflation rate.

In fact, surveys show manufacturers are increasing prices at record rates. This could drive up the cost of trade shows, ticket and product prices, marketing efforts, and more. 

There was also a shift in demand towards durable goods and away from services. Because of how the pandemic reshaped consumers and society as a whole, this shift is likely to persist. 

4. Supply Chain Bottlenecks

In the early stages of the pandemic, there were supply chain bottlenecks caused by lockdowns which prevented or delayed goods from reaching their destination.

Recently, the bottlenecks were caused by strong demand for supplies as the economy begins to recover. The most severe bottlenecks can be seen in intermediate manufactured goods, raw materials, and freight transportation.

This year, large trade shows and exhibitors might find it harder to transport supplies without meticulous planning and a reliable trade show logistics partner.

A large ship carrying hundreds of containers vans is tied up at a dock

5. Concerns on ROI

Considering social distancing is still in effect in some places, a factor that forces organizers to limit attendance, there’s a growing concern if companies can get a return on their investment with trade shows. 

Are Trade Shows Still Worth It?

With changing safety protocols and challenges the events industry is facing, one thing remains unchanged: the desire of people to connect. The value of trade shows lay in this desire and it was manifested in the performance of trade exhibits early this 2022.

CES, a consumer electronics company, welcomed a whopping 45,000 in-person attendees for their trade show early this year. Surprisingly, almost a third of attendees were from outside the U.S.

AHR Expo was attended by over 30,000 people and participated by over 1,500 exhibitors. Although those numbers are down compared to the previous years, it was still considered a success when weighing in the pandemic and a major snowstorm that hit the show’s location.

There are many more trade shows lined up this year and surveys are saying 81% of attendees have major buying power. This reinforces the importance of trade shows and how they continue to remain relevant. 

What Changes to Expect in Trade Shows in 2022

Many exhibitors and attendees have returned to live trade shows since last year, but with significant changes. Some of these changes include:

Implementation of Safety Procedures

Expect wearing of masks, availability of hand sanitizers in trade show venues, social distancing, and confirmation of vaccination among others. Doing this will not just prevent the spread of the virus, but will also assuage the safety concerns of participants.

Authentic and Meaningful Content

The pandemic taught us that staying connected truly matters. Expect trade shows and events to have more focus on hyper-personalization, smarter storytelling, integrated formats, sustainability, and conscious spending.

More Experimentation

There is no “ideal fit” in this new and ever-changing landscape. Continuous experimentation across a range of dimensions is necessary to find what will work and what won’t. For this, creativity and empathy are a must-have in the trade show playing field.

Smaller but Highly-Focused Trade Shows

A lot of trade shows will re-emerge smaller but more focused on delivering relevant experiences and more exclusive offerings. This helps brands establish a community of deeply loyal customers.

Booths with their products on display are installed in a trade show

Why You Need The Concierge Club

Not enough manpower, supply chain bottlenecks, and other challenges—you don’t have to worry about all these if you have an expert team working behind the scenes.

And that’s who we are.

The Concierge Club is an events marketing team with over 10 years of experience in the field. We have the creativity and skills to manage all these challenges and still come up with a winning trade show. 

Contact us or visit our website to learn more.