Trade fairs remain important for business, say exhibitors
Strengthening contacts with existing customers, new business opportunities and physical presentation of a company and its products. These are the three most common reasons why exhibitors take part in trade fairs. This follows from a survey conducted by Trade Fairs Brno in March 2021. 768 exhibiting companies from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other countries took part in the survey. The aim of the survey was to answer the question of what potential will trade fairs have in the post-Covid period
The survey showed that trade fairs continue to have considerable value and meaning for companies. 59% of respondents stated that trade fairs are perceived as a very important business tool for their business. For further 30%, they are comparable to other presentation options. 79% of surveyed companies count on participating in a trade fair in the future.
"Pandemic measures have banned personal contacts, which we all lack. The survey confirms that companies need personal meetings for business development and therefore want to continue to use trade fairs, whose multifunctionality they highly appreciate, "commented Jiří Kuliš, General Manager of Trade Fairs Brno.
Confidence in trade fairs has increased
The importance of trade fairs for business companies was rated by companies with a very high mark. Specifically 3.7 on a five-point scale. Foreign companies value trade fairs even higher, with a 4.14 mark. Compared to pre-pandemic surveys, this is even an increase in confidence. In their verbal comments, the exhibiting companies point out not only the loss of personal contact, but also the financial loss due to the missing possibility of presenting new products or technologies and thus not winning future orders.
"It is the very fact that trade fairs cannot take place that have increased their value in the marketing and business strategy of companies. Simply put, companies are noticeably feeling the loss of contacts and new business opportunities that are being born at the fair, "said Jaroslav Bílek, company spokesman and author of the survey.
We want to meet! Online is not an alternative!
For the trade fair participants the most important thing is maintaining contact with customers and new business opportunities, i.e. generating new business leads as well as presenting their company and products.
"Personal contact is one of the key factors in successful long-term cooperation with our partners. For this reason, the fairs we exhibit at every year are important to us. We meet here with both new and our long-term customers on the one hand, and with existing and new suppliers and manufacturers on the other", added Daniel Charvát, Executive Director, BIBUS s.r.o.
Due to the importance of companies´ meetings with their customers, an alternative in the form of an online trade fair is not suitable for them. This is confirmed by the result of a survey in which 69% of exhibitors declared that virtual events are not interesting for them. Some respondents would only welcome to supplement a trade fair participation with an online option, such as presentation by colleagues or experts from abroad via a videoconference. Only 7% of respondents consider virtual or hybrid fairs to be beneficial. This is also confirmed by the low participation of companies in German world trade fairs, which did not take place in person, but in an online format.
We will return to the fairgrounds after the pandemic, companies say
While the online environment has not proven to be an effective replacement for trade fairs, most exhibitors are already looking forward to the opening of the fairground gates. 79% of respondents intend to return to trade fairs. Further 11% are unable to assess their potential participation now, due to uncertainty about further developments. The interest in trade fairs is underlined by the fact that representatives of companies want to return not only in the role of exhibitors, but also in the role of visitors.
"Most exhibitors have already signed up for the postponed edition of our fair in 2022," confirms the interest of companies in participating in the next AMPER fair Jiří Šviga, CEO of Terinvest.
"Even at the present time of fully developed information technologies, I consider organizing of trade fairs and participation in them as a key commercial tool. We have been using this tool for many years and intend to continue, as soon as circumstances allow us to so again. Personal meetings not only with potential customers, but also with many business partners, exchange of experiences and opinions, gaining new knowledge and contacts on the compact dimension of the fair is always an extraordinary advantage and also a great time saver. The amount of information obtained during a single trade fair week can hardly be replaced by electronic communication", confirmed David Kratochvíl, CEO of TAIMA s.r.o.
"A revival in the field of communication with exhibitors can be clearly felt now. There is a great interest in participating in trade fairs, especially in the B2B segment, which needs to show its products to customers and compare with the competition. This is, among other things, the very substance of a fair, which is not interchangeable with other marketing tools," added Tomáš Kotrč, the president of the Association of the Trade Fair Industry SOVA CR.
"The Association of Exhibition Companies of the Czech Republic (AVF) perceives positive results with the hope that the autumn part of the fair season will take place. We have equally positive signals from our clients, "underlined the positive results Jiiří Carda, the President of AVF.
The survey results were also confirmed by professional associations of the trade fair industry in the Czech Republic and also in neighboring Germany
A similar survey among members of three major industry associations was conducted in neighboring Germany. The conclusions of the survey are similar. German companies are losing the business opportunities offered by trade fairs. The Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) confirms that the cancellation of trade fairs leads to significant economic losses on the exhibitors´ side. German companies lack the marketing effect of trade fairs, which bring them business benefits. 76% of companies complain about the lack of opportunities to gain new customers due to trade fairs cancellations, 84% about the impossibility of meeting visitors and exhibitors in person at trade fairs and 60% lack the opportunity to present new products. More than 40% of companies suffered specific economic losses due to trade fair cancellations.
Despite the currently very uncertain general conditions, three quarters of the surveyed companies expect to participate in the fair in the next twelve months on the scale as before. The companies were also asked about the medium-term perspective. 42% said that from their point of view, the importance of trade fairs will remain the same or even increase over the next five years. For 68% of companies, the lifting of travel restrictions for visitors from important foreign markets is an important prerequisite for their participation.
Everyone is looking forward to the end of the worst period in history
Potential risks of participation in the post-Covid period, which the survey also monitored, include economic developments in Europe and the world, the financial situation of companies, cross-border and global travel. Any remaining hygienic and safety measures are perceived as restrictive. In general, companies want to return to trade fairs under standard conditions without masks and with a handshake.
The global trade fair industry is going through the worst period in history and only those who had sufficient financial reserves and took sufficient austerity measures will survive. Trade fairs organizers, operators of exhibition grounds, exhibition companies have been left with no income for more than a year, and everyone is looking forward to the re-opening of exhibition grounds, trade fairs and congresses.
"We are pleased with the results of the survey. The readiness of companies to participate in the fair is unusually high. This gives us confidence that the renewal of events that could not take place for more than a year will be rapid," concluded Jaroslav Bílek.
"We believe that there will be an increase in collective immunity due to vaccination and testing and a return to normal life in the second half of the year. We expect the introduction of Covid passports and smart applications for proving immunity to enable the business events that industry and commerce need to take place. We see no reason for further closing of trade fairs, when the participants are mostly representatives of companies who are regularly tested. We see no reason not to hold, for example, medical congresses and exhibitions where participants are vaccinated, or the IDET trade fair, where visitors are members of the security forces who are vaccinated. We intend to discuss this with epidemiologists, "said Jiří Kuliš, General Director of Trade Fairs Brno.