This is the first show I’ve been to since COVID that felt like the “good ole days”
ORLANDO, FL. FEB. 10th, 2022—It’s difficult not to be a little nostalgic walking the show floor. There are a lot of business owners who miss the energy of live events, the surprise of new technologies and the pursuit of new relationships.
Thankfully, this year’s KBIS/IBS brought it all back. Michael Schwitter, director of sales at Alpine, noted before the show that “there’s already some excitement, hearing all the voices–seeing how big it is. The booths are full.”
Attendance was well above the average trade show in the covid-era, attracting 70,000 attendees and 600 vendors. A sense of hope and optimism filled the air. Michael Perchar, national sales manager at Vent-A-Hood, says, “What I’m willing to bet is that people that are coming back to the show are going to be more invigorated and probably make a more valuable show.”
Another aspect that made this year’s KBIS/IBS incredible is what it didn’t do: it did NOT just appeal to trade show veterans. New businesses threw their hat in the mix for the first time. SRS Distribution’s field marketing manager, Keenan Perry, says, “this was our first time at this show… You just don’t get that same level of interaction. And over the last year, we have found that that has really been missing from our space. So, in terms of finding new customers and mining new prospects, trade shows are the perfect places to do that.”
In terms of tracking current trade show marketing trends, I have three takeaways.
Attendance is rising
After last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it was by no means certain that this year would look much different from 2021’s attendance level. However, a contributing factor to CES’s historic lows could have been the emergence of the Omicron variant. General contractors are noting how confidence in health and safety affects attendance levels and, as a result, have been using Epistemix to get information on which cities and states rate high in safety and cleanliness, among other factors.
It really is an exciting time for the industry as confidence rises. My best bet is that attendance will continue to rise as summer approaches. It may well turn out that, for the next year or so, trade shows become seasonal, coinciding with increasing and decreasing cases of Covid.
However, this isn’t bad news, after all, KBIS is making it work.
Increased space for demos and displays
Regarding the exhibits on the show floor, there was definitely more space allotted for demos and displays. You see a lot of vignettes of products in real-life environments, like mock-ups of different style kitchens with components in place.
One reason for attending trade shows in the first place is to test the products and experience them through sight and touch. It’s a very different experience than merely viewing the product on a website. As shows return, it makes sense companies are eager to show off what many clients have been missing during the previous two years.
Emphasis on experiential and interactive elements
There are lots of amazing experiential and interactive components filling booth spaces. The most popular ones at KBIS are DJs, 360 photo booths, and industry celebs and stars making cameos at different booths. This is a development we’ve highlighted on our blog before, and there is every reason to suspect this trend will only go upward as trade shows come back.
And it’s great to be back!
Need help planning for KBIS 2023?
It’s always a privilege to look after our client’s custom exhibits at their most important shows. Give us a call at 972-734-8585 or contact us here to learn more about exhibit design, interactive experiences, and other services The Trade Group offers.
Claire Phillips is a Senior Account Executive for The Trade Group in Dallas, TX. With over 13 years of experience in trade show design, logistics, and event-based marketing, she prides herself on top-notch customer service and ensuring her clients get unprecedented returns from their shows.