What Is a Trade Show? Everything You Need to Know

What Is a Trade Show? Everything You Need to Know Banner

You hear the term often, but exactly what is a trade show? 

When you think of the term, dozens of images probably jump into your mind. You think of exhibits and vendors, thousands of people crowded into a large space. You also likely think about major urban centers like New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. 

But what exactly is a trade show? Where did the idea come from? And what does a good one contain, and how should you benefit from it? 

Trade Shows – A Short Definition

Trade shows evolved as a means for vendors to showcase their goods in a common marketplace with competitors, to try to win over purchasers, and to create sales networks and supply chain partnerships. In short, they are a way to connect face-to-face with potential new clients and partners within an industry.  

Trade shows are themed for specific industries or related industries, such as food trade shows, video game shows, and apparel trade shows. They are usually held in major urban centers that are easy to travel to and from and have ample space for attendees. 

What Happens at a Trade Show?

Trade shows are an opportunity for people within an industry to meet face-to-face and develop new partnerships. Vendors usually purchase an exhibit space ahead of time and set up a booth or mobile exhibit for their product and service. 

The concept that hundreds or thousands of aligned products and services will draw in purchasers. Seeing and experiencing the best products and services in one space helps them innovate new ideas for their businesses and pick the best ideas for their needs from amongst the competition. 

The Key Components of a Trade Show

Trade shows differ between industries, but they will almost always have a few common features. 

  1. Trade Show Exhibits. Companies will compete to showcase their brands in the best way possible with engaging exhibits at shows. This is what people come to experience!
  2. Keynote Speakers and Workshops. Educational events and celebrity or “thought leader” advice help draw in both purchasers and exhibitors alike. 
  3. Mingling Events. Cocktail parties, luncheons, and other opportunities for industry specialists and sales representatives to add to their networks are a common trade show feature. 
  4. Awards. Usually, trade shows will offer awards to the best exhibits or the most innovative products showcased. 

What are the Benefits of Participating in Trade shows?

The benefits run deep, especially considering that trade shows are one of the top means for purchasers to pick new products and services. At a minimum, trade shows will boost brand exposure. 

Depending on the quality of the show, it should result in creating a number of direct partnerships for improving sales. What is more, attending can help you gain a better sense of the competition to be able to improve your overall marketing strategy. 

Educational events and keynote speakers often draw people to attend trade shows.

Some Examples of Great Trade Shows

The United States alone has 10,000 trade shows a year. Other regions are even more prolific. China has the most of any country in the world. 

The largest trade show is Japan’s World Expo, held every 5 years. The next one will be held in Osaka, Japan in 2025. It will run for 6 months, aimed at attracting the best global innovations for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The organizers expect over 28 million visitors. 

In the United States, the largest exhibition is CES, aimed at technology innovation. The 2024 show held in January in Las Vegas boasted:

  • 311 Fortune 500 companies. 
  • An attendee list of which 57% were senior level employees.
  • 41 different tech areas showcased and discussed. 
  • 150 countries represented. 
  • 4,000 exhibitors, of which 1,200 were startups. 
  • 130,000 total attendees. 

How Much Do They Cost?

It depends! A trade show can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars for a ticket. You need to factor travel costs as well. Often, the best events are held in world-class cities at high-end resorts or in partnership with hotels and restaurants that can be expensive. 

You also need to factor the cost of the trade show booth or exhibit that your company will use. If you want a specially-designed exhibit with interactive features that draws more attention from visitors, you probably need to include a line item in your budget. 

Usually, however, you can adjust the cost for your capacity. A growing option for many shows is to offer a virtual trade show exhibit option. If you can’t afford a prime space at the convention center, you might be able to maximize your marketing returns with virtual visits before, during and after the event. 

Trade shows are usually held in major urban centers, often in top-rated convention centers built by cities to draw in tourism and commerce.

How Do I Prepare for My First Trade Show?

First, you want to develop a marketing strategy based on your budget and your show goals. What are you hoping to accomplish towards your marketing and sales plan?

If the aim is to draw in more potential vendors, you might focus on attending networking events and developing partnerships. But if your goal is to get 5,000 new social media followers, you might focus on designing a fun exhibit space with give-aways that draws in sign-ups.

Always, you want to make sure that the right personnel attend the event. If the goal is networking, you want your CEO or key leaders to show up. Otherwise, sending fun sales reps might be more appropriate. 

You Can Maximize Trade Show Success with Blazer Exhibits

In any case, you can probably use some help! Professionals like Blazer Exhibits can help you develop a marketing strategy that fits your budget. 

Blazer are experts at helping you develop the best tools to showcase your product or service at the trade show within your particular constraints. This includes an innovative, attractive booth exhibit that goes along with your overall marketing plan. They can also guide you through best practices to maximize your impact before and after the event, to take the most advantage of each show. 

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