This Just In

12 Trade Show Trends for 2022

Frances Ferrante, Senior Editor

CHICAGO — The perspectives of trade show organizers vary widely when it comes to which trends they anticipate will dominate 2022. However, there are some recurring themes, quality over quantity, the ongoing employee shortage and safety issues among them.

Here’s are 12 trends they predict for the year ahead.

  1. Time = Money

Among the many lessons COVID has brought to light is the value of employees. Companies have lost talent at a record pace and one of the main reasons for this Great Resignation is that employees are searching for meaningful work and workplaces that do not treat them like a commodity, but value their contributions — and their time.

  1. Vendor Employee Shortages

2022 will see an ongoing struggle within the many supplier companies that support trade shows.

  1. Safety Concerns

Growing competition among companies providing testing, vaccination proof and safety consulting services for business events is predicted.

  1. Quality Over Quantity

Events need to focus much more on audience quality than on attendance numbers.

  1. Immersive, Engaging Experiences

The trend toward quality also will drive trade show organizers to create high-touch immersive experiences.

  1. Virtual & Hybrid Are Here to Stay

Trade show organizers predict that virtual and hybrid will continue, though all interviewed agree that they pale in comparison to face-to-face shows.

  1. Focus on Sustainability

Coming off November’s U.N. Climate Change Conference and and the Joint Meetings Industry Council’s Net Zero Pledge, sustainability is in the spotlight like never before.

  1. Innovative Tech

Show organizers are faced with a host of technology developments that will deepen their understanding of attendee buying habits and and extend the buying cycle.

  1. Reinvention

Alex DeBarr, President & CEO, Naylor Association Solutions said, “Coming out of the painful 2020-2021 event cycle creates a great opportunity to reinvent your events and better position them competitive for the future. There is a huge pent-up demand for events by attendees, sponsors and exhibitors — but smart producers will re-evaluate their strategy and tactics to create better events. Better for the attendees and better for sponsors in all ways — quality of content, quality of experience, quality of networking opportunities and safe participation. Don’t fall into the trap of simply milking the demand for events — take aggressive steps to improve the event and tell the participants how. That starts with asking them what they need now versus two years ago.”

  1. Networking Reigns Supreme

“Networking has always been at the core of trade shows, but I expect next year attendees will want more planned, more deliberate opportunities to gather together – absent of loud music or other entertainment – so they can really converse. Also, with supply chain issues affecting so many industries, I expect buyers and specifies will feel a more urgent need to attend shows to get first shot at available product or to find new vendors to replace historical resources who may not be in a position to fulfill their needs due to backlogs,” Dan Darby, CEM, Show Director/Senior Vice President, Lightfair, said.

  1. Technology Will Continue to Innovate

“Both an exciting trend and challenge we see as we move into 2022 and beyond will be finding that balance between continuing what has been successful in the past and simultaneously utilizing more innovative technologies to engage show-goers (in person and virtually). If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that creating a mix of physical and digital business opportunities, both of which are equally important,” Kimberly Carcone, Senior Vice President, Global Market Events for The Toy Association, said.

  1. Personalized Service

Another trend is the desire of attendees to feel cared for when gathering at trade shows. A company like Get Informed – a Las Vegas-based concierge event service that has partnered with Informa Markets — does just that. A single point-of-contact for attendees as well as exhibitors, Get Informed helps secure dining reservations, hotel accommodations, entertainment, event venues, staffing transportation and more.

Get Informed also specializes in creating micro-event experiences like their Foodpopper Pop-Ups curated by Heidi Cayn Friedman, Former Head of Production for the television show Chopped. “Micro food pop-up experiences like this are a unique way for guests to interact in various venues throughout the city,” Melanie Bash, Co-Founder, Get Informed, said. “It is all about meeting the needs of our customers in highly-personalized, customer-service driven ways.”

For more trends, be sure to check out the January issue of TSE.

Reach Alex DeBarr at adebarr@naylor.com; Dan Darby at dand@lightfair.com; Kimberly Carcone at kccarcone@toyassociation.org; Melanie Bash at mbash@getinformedlv.com