87% of Attendees Have In-Person Expos on Their 2022 Agendas

Sue Pelletier, Senior Editor

DALLAS — The second of six reports in the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Omnichannel Marketing Insight Series asks the question: Will attendees come back to B2B exhibitions? The answer is a resounding yes, said 87% of the survey respondents who plan to attend in-person expos this year. While not quite back to 2019 levels, attendees are motivated to attend in person in 2022 with two main purposes in mind: 98% are going to shop, and 97% are going to learn.

This doesn’t mean that brand marketers can throw out the online tactics they took to reach customers during the COVID pandemic, however. Some of the new habits formed during the past two years are likely to stick around, the research found. For example, 38% said they have gotten used to interacting online and plan to attend fewer B2B expos, while 31% said they like having both an online and in-person hybrid option.

But the power of in-person B2B expos remains compelling, with 95% of attendees saying there are many unique values of attending in person that they just can’t get from other channels. Among them are the ability to see a large number of prospective and existing suppliers over a short period of time, interact with new and existing products and services, and experience those synergies that only come when people exchange ideas and strategies face to face.

“The CEIR Omnichannel Marketing Insights is showing us what we’ve known to be true all along – people want to meet face-to-face,” CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM, said. “Of those surveyed, 95% identified multiple unique values of attending B2B exhibitions not fulfilled by other channels. The data confirms that attendees value the in-person setting more than any other touchpoint along their journey for building relationships and shopping for products and services.”

The key will be to find ways to stay on the “must-attend” list for those who plan to reduce their in-person event schedule, while also catering to those who have acquired a taste for online shows by providing digital options both during the show dates and year-round, the report finds.

Related. 94% of Exhibitors Plan to Return to Live Events, Says CEIR Omnichannel Marketing Research Study

Among the top-ranked reasons for attending on the shopping side are to see and experience new technology, said 89%. Also high on the list is to see, touch and experience new products (86%), and being on hand for new product introductions (86%). Building and maintaining relationships with suppliers, and having the opportunity to talk with experts, also were key for 84% and 83% of respondents. On the learning side, 90% said they find in-person events enable them to keep up with industry trends, with 79% value the professional networking opportunities of being on site.

Related. Lessons From a Year of Online Events

The complete Omnichannel Marketing Insights series is based on a survey of 1,799 attendees and 316 exhibitors and will include five additional reports released over the next several months. The first and second reports are free to CEIR members and available for $99 for non-members through the CEIR website.

Reach Cathy Breden at (972) 687-9201 or cbredent@iaee.com