GES Survey: 88% of Attendees Open to Attending Shows

Frances Ferrante
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LAS VEGAS — A just-released survey of 1,300 trade show attendees by GES revealed an overall willingness to once again give live events.

The research identified five distinct categories of attendees in terms of their risk perception. Of those categories, only one group — representing 12% of respondents — was vehemently opposed to in-person events and lacked confidence in mitigation requirements such as temperature checks, mandatory face masks and sanitization. A full 88% of respondents said they were open to in-person events, with 65% requiring some form of risk mitigation in order to attend.

The five classifications of attendees that emerged from the study were:

  • Nope! — 12% expressed being highly concerned with health risks and do not believe in mitigation.
  • Convince Me — 24% were concerned about COVID-19 risk, but open to attending if the event provided high value to them.
  • Open Hall — 24% had only moderate concerns about COVID-19. This group was open to personal restrictions but did not want set meetings or limited meeting times.
  • We Can Do This — 17% responded having only mild COVID-19 concerns and faith in mitigation procedures.
  • What Virus? — 23% revealed they had low COVID-19 concerns and would like shows to proceed as they did prior to the pandemic.

The age range of respondents cut across all demographics, with a fairly equal number in the 30-39, 40-49 and 60+ categories, and the largest percentage in the 50-59 range. More than one-third (37%) of the respondents were in sales, purchasing or entrepreneur roles — which depend heavily on trade shows — with other respondents coming from operations, administration, marketing, business development and engineering. Interestingly, men were more likely to have the least safety concerns and fall into the “What Virus?” category.

These findings reveal “how critical it is to understand your attendee base and their risk perceptions,” said GES Global Chief Marketing Officer Wendy Gibson. “It is our duty to proactively take action to understand all measures necessary … to safely and successfully reopen live events.”

By their nature, certain types of shows, such as health care congresses, could have a lower risk perception than large-scale events like retail shows. The survey concluded that the key for show organizers is to design their schedules to accommodate the risk tolerance of their various client segments and to consider physically separating their education activities or delivering them digitally.

Find the complete survey results here.

Reach Wendy Gibson at (972) 538-3053 or wgibson@ges.com.