Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across all industries had started to question the traditional tradeshow, wondering if they still made sense in our digital world. The cost to participate in a show, including sponsorship and exhibition cost, is a big expense. In March of 2020, when all in-person tradeshows came to a crashing halt, we saw a gradual shift to virtual events … some of which were successful, while others left a lot to be desired.
With the first major in-person, US-based tradeshow taking place last week at MD&M West in California, many companies wondered if they would see their return on investment. Despite the uncertainties leading up to the event, and a lower attendance rate, by the end of the week, it was clear to our team—tradeshows continue to bring a lot of value! Here’s why:
In-person networking. Many virtual events try hard to replicate the in-person booth experience, side conversation, and networking … but none of them have been quite able to get there. MD&M West, on the other hand, was bustling with formal and informal conversations—both in and out of the exhibit hall.
Quality over quantity. While the attendee numbers were indeed lower than a typical year for West, our team (and many we spoke with) felt the quality of the conversations was strong. Conversations were focused around important industry themes, big ideas, challenges, and current project needs. The face-to-face connection was irreplaceable.
Industry buzz. When attending a show, it’s easy to walk away and pinpoint exactly what the industry is buzzing about. MD&M West was no different. It was clear that the theme of sustainability was hot this year. MD&M West’s Center Stage was stacked with speakers discussing sustainability in the industry and how it may evolve in the coming years.
After a long stretch of no in-person tradeshows, MD&M West reminded us all of the importance of an in-person handshake, fist bump, or wave. It was a great week, and it was so good to see so many of our friends and colleagues come out.